Let's start with the obvious: Traffic conditions in Brainerd and Baxter area are terrible. It's road construction season in Minnesota and those two cities are getting a Paul Bunyan-size dose of it this year.
The Highway 210 road construction project has severely tested the patience of area residents and tourists alike. Short trips that once took 10 minutes now take 20 minutes or longer. Cars are backed up on side streets as well as the main traffic arteries. Simple maneuvers such as making a right-hand turn aren't simple anymore.
But before motorists start writing angry letters to Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau consider the enormity of the Highway 210 project.
Roughly 30,000 vehicles use Highway 210 in Brainerd on a typical July day. Many of those drivers want to get from one side of the Mississippi River to the other and there are a limited number of river crossings in Brainerd.
MnDOT has identified alternate routes and done its best to keep the public aware of construction progress but no amount of planning or preparation can alter the fact that a major road construction project is going to create a bottleneck and slow traffic. Thirty thousand vehicles is a lot of traffic to usher through a construction zone during peak summer traffic.
Drivers in Brainerd and Baxter need to take a deep breath and realize that driving anywhere near Highway 210 is going to require more time. Relax. Tune in some classical music on your radio. Let another driver merge in traffic in front of you.
Remember that it's the highway construction workers, not the drivers who have the difficult job. They're working in the summer heat while most of us are driving air-conditioned cars. The safety of workers, pedestrians and drivers is a small price to pay for the extra drive time.
Road construction means traffic will be congested. It's a fact of life. Getting angry about it doesn't serve any purpose. Drivers should allow more time, use alternate routes when possible and stay alert for the actions of impatient drivers who might take improper risks.
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