Baxter and the Minnesota Department of Transportation have agreed in principle to Highway 210 improvements west of Highway 371 designed to make travel more safe.
Now the two government entities will have to work to determine costs and who will pay for what. On Thursday, the Baxter City Council will discuss the issue.
The improvements were spurred by proposed changes to the intersection of Highway 210 and Elder Drive just west of Highway 371, which was brought to the forefront of city and state debate after three serious motor vehicle collisions, including two fatalities, happened in the past nine months.
After meeting with the city and hosting a public informational meeting, MnDOT proposed a three-quarter intersection at Highway 210 and Elder Drive, which means right-in and right-out turns only.
City officials in turn wanted MnDOT to incorporate the city's long-range plans for Highway 210 which include switching the traffic signal at Knollwood Drive to Inglewood Drive and connecting Fairview Road, a frontage road on the north side of Highway 210, to Excelsior Road to the north to allow for better access near the Elder Drive and Highway 210 intersection.
"I think it's been a really positive conversation," City Administrator Gordon Heitke said. "Although this has been in the city's plans in the past, MnDOT has indicated they don't have any real problems with what the city has proposed. Now we have to sit down and work together to implement it."
It comes down to finding money to pay for the projects, Heitke said. While MnDOT will pay for all Highway 210 work and has proposed paying for the construction of extending Fairview Road to Excelsior Road, the city would be required to pay for right-of-way acquisition. The city also would have to pay for any adjustments to city streets connecting to Highway 210, and share in paying for reconstructing the Inglewood railroad crossing and for signal lights.
"We're just trying to get a better understanding of what that might be in terms of cost to the city," Heitke said. "The point is this all sounds wonderful but will we have the ability to come up with a local share."
Heitke said he didn't know if the council would take any action on the Highway 210 improvements Thursday.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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