Drivers tired of congested traffic and accidents on Highway 210 will be happy with the construction scheduled to begin in the spring of 2002, from the Washington Street bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Brainerd to Highway 371 in Baxter.
From 1997-1999, there were 43 crashes reported at Fourth Street Northwest involving 96 vehicles. The second highest number of crashes occurred at Third Street Northwest with 34 crashes involving 71 vehicles.
"Taking away some of the accesses and left turns should lower some of the accidents," said Roger Risser, Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager.
Access limits will be added between Baxter Drive and Fourth Street Northwest, which include right-turn only and prohibits any crossing or left turns.
There will be a complete reconstruction of the roadbed, medians, curbs, gutters and storm sewer, which currently causes flooding during hard rain.
"Some properties will be affected," said Risser, "but only small pieces of property."
Risser said the project will cause no additional costs to the property owners. The project is completely government funded.
The total project cost for the 1.4-mile reconstruction will be $3.5 million.
There will be a removal of the existing railroad overpass bridges and replacement with a recreational trail underpass, which includes an extension of the Paul Bunyan Trail. The trail will be routed under the highway through a beebo, which is a smaller, half-circle tunnel. The trail is projected to extend down County Road 48 to College Drive.
Other reconstruction features include right-turn lanes at Seventh Street Northwest (westbound only) and at Fourth Street Northwest; the extension of Charles Street to Baxter Drive; and the reconstruction of Fourth Street Northwest from Charles Street to Jackson Street to improve traffic flow at the signalized intersection.
There was talk about adding a stoplight on Seventh Street Northwest to try to eliminate some of the traffic congesting Fourth Street Northwest.
"At this time we're kind of still guessing what we'll need," said Brainerd City Engineer Jeff Hulsether. "It's difficult to say what will happen to traffic with the other changes being made."
The project is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2002, and the prediction is it will take four months to complete.
"We should only be out there for one construction season," said Risser, "and we're not planning on detouring at all."
Risser said MnDOT crews will take the highway down to two lanes at times and work on one side at a time.
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