Work will begin Monday to change the intersection of Highway 210 and Elder Drive in Baxter from a full intersection to what state officails call a three-quarter intersection - no left turns onto 210.
The improvements to the intersection just west of the landmark Highway 371 junction will be made after three serious motor vehicle collisions, including two fatalities, happened in the past year.
"Highway 210 and Elder has been a real safety concern," said Kevin Schmidt, Minnesota Department of Transportation District 3 assistant traffic engineer. "We had to do something at Elder Drive based on the number of comments we received. We moved, in a sense, at lightning speed at MnDOT."
MnDOT, after several meetings with Baxter residents, business owners and city officials, elected to improve safety by reconstructing the intersection to restrict left turns onto Highway 210. Only right turns will be allowed from Elder Drive onto Highway 210. Schmidt said turns on Highway 210 will not change.
The work will include widening the left turn lanes to Elder Drive from Highway 210, installing concrete medians to restrict left turns from Elder Drive to Highway 210, resurfacing of the roadway and installing a storm sewer and lighting. MnDOT has already installed signs directing traffic onto frontage roads.
The intersection will be similar in design to intersections along Highway 371 from Highway 210 to Crow Wing County Road 77, Schmidt said, but there will be more room for vehicles.
"With older three-quarter designs, the frontage road throat is close to the state highway and that made people nervous," Schmidt said. "But with Elder, the city frontage roads are set further back so it's a lot easier to get through."
Another change, he said, is an improved median design that positions turning traffic more into view of oncoming traffic.
Ken Slama, MnDOT construction engineer, said for about a week access to and from Elder Drive at Highway 210 will be closed. Motorists also can expect a single lane of traffic westbound and eastbound on Highway 210 between Golf Course Drive and Knollwood Drive.
Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd is the prime contractor for the $462,000 project. The project is expected to be completed in early November.
For Baxter, the project is part of an overall Highway 210 corridor plan that includes 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. MnDOT has agreed to pay for the road extension.
Also being considered by the city is moving the stoplight at Knollwood Drive to Inglewood Drive.
Neither the Fairview extension or stoplight relocation are part of the current MnDOT project.
Anyone with questions or concerns about the Elder Drive/Highway 210 intersection project can call Schmidt or Slama at MnDOT's Baxter office at 828-5700.
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