Driving the Highway 210 detour route is like encountering mosquitoes -- it is annoying, but it is something people can deal with.
The major detour began Tuesday and drivers have been adjusting to the new route. About four blocks of Highway 210 from Seventh Street Northwest to Fourth Street Northwest were closed, leaving motorists unable to cross one of the busiest intersections on Highway 210 in Brainerd at Fourth Street Northwest.
When I first heard of this detour I thought, "How long will it take me to come and go from The Dispatch, located on James Street along the detour route?" Then I was asked to drive the detour route to see what it is like and I thought, "You want me to purposely drive the whole detour route at lunch time, the busiest time of the day, to see what it is like? Are you crazy?!"
But I hopped in my truck at noon Wednesday and was pleasantly surprised, which is a big thing for me to say because I have little patience on the road. A majority of motorists along the detour route seemed to adjust, too.
I tried to take a casual spin on the detour route. But traffic was moving so well that I didn't have time to stop more people for, literally, person in the street interviews.
Once a motorist, traveling westbound, enters the detour from Highway 210 there is no stopping. The driver enters the detour on Second Street Northwest by Brainerd Medical Supply, proceeds down the road and onto James Street without stopping. The driver turns onto Seventh Street Northwest by Tanners without stopping and then returns to Highway 210 to continue to drive to Baxter.
The motorist driving eastbound gets on the detour by taking a right onto Baxter Drive near Pizza Hut. The motorist continues down Charles Street, past all the businesses, until he or she gets to Northwest Third Street by Riverside Elementary School. The driver takes a left onto Third because there is no stop sign. Go another block until reaching the end of the detour at Washington Street (Highway 210), which has one lane of bituminous surface complete to the bridge.
Drivers on the side streets in the detour zone trying to get onto Charles Street or James Street must stop for traffic. Cars on Northwest Fourth Street were backed up for about a block trying to get on both streets.
The most recent Highway 210 detour caused congestion Wednesday on Fourth Street Northwest and James Street. (Dispatch Photo by Mindy Niemela)
A majority of drivers at noon Wednesday seemed to be patient with the detour and just wanted to be on their way. But many are still learning the route to get where they need to go. And the route has changed here and there, while MnDOT crews get their jobs done.
One driver thought she had to stop on Charles Street to allow the traffic on Northwest Fourth Street to go. The driver stopped for a short time and continued on her way after seeing a thumb-waving gesture from the driver on Northwest Fourth Street. Others slowed down on purpose on the detour to be courteous to other drivers waiting to get on the detour route.
Craig MacDonald, Baxter, was waiting in his vehicle, trying to take a left onto James Street from Fifth Street Northwest by Wendy's. He did not seem too upset with the wait.
"You need to be patient," he said. "The improvements to the roads is long overdue. There are no alternative routes and they (workers) are doing the best they can."
Brian Knettel of Merrifield, who was heading back to work at Simonson Lumber, said when the road improvements first began it was terrible to try to get to work. But he said the detour was not as bad as he expected.
"I try not to go out at lunchtime," he said.
Knettel said customers had a hard time getting to Simonson Lumber and staff have been trying to lead them in the right direction.
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