A purely unscientific survey, based on two area drivers' commuting observations, indicates the fears of drivers creeping well above the state's speed limit of 55 mph on Highway 210 in Baxter may have been unfounded.
For the most part, our observers report traffic on that busy stretch of road is moving along at 55 mph, with the exception of the occasional leadfoot driver.
The drivers should be commended for their restraint. They're doing their part to make the busy traffic route safe for everyone. Many Baxter residents liked the former 50 mph speed limit figuring that slower speed limits would result in fewer accidents. The complicating factor is that Highway 210 is part of a major state highway system not just the private preserve of Brainerd and Baxter residents. It is a major east-west route that serves tourists, truckers and business people. Drastically reducing speed on one segment of a highway route can cause problems as vehicles slow down and speed up at different rates. All it takes is for one car to slow down quickly while the car behind it isn't paying attention and you've got a pile-up.
Considerable improvements have been made to Highway 210 in Baxter, most notably the creation of a four-lane highway in place of a two-lane. Upgrading from a two-lane road to a divided, four-lane highway is probably the single biggest safety improvement that can be made to a thoroughfare.
With those improvements though, area residents have to acknowledge that the new improved road has a role to serve as part of the faster-moving state highway system.
The upgrading to a four-lane road makes the tradeoff worthwhile. Too many head-on collisions took place on that stretch of Highway 210 in the past. A divided, four-lane will result in safer travel for everyone who travels that road.
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