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Traffic study confirms wait-and-see plan for Baxter intersection

BAXTER — Smooth traffic flow at the Golf Course and Excelsior Drive intersection in Baxter will be improved by a signal light or a roundabout but the question is which will work better to handle the vehicles 10 years from now.

Baxter City Council members questioned whether a single-lane roundabout would fit on the developed corner’s footprint with commercial businesses nearby.

Tuesday, they were advised looking at a roundabout couldn’t hurt but the four-way stop sign will work for now. It is considered a level C-level and D-level service at present. By 2025, peak traffic hours will put the intersection into a failure category.

The traffic study information using two different computer software models was provided by SEH, Brainerd.

With the expected numbers in 2025, a signal light would provide a B-level service while a roundabout was considered better at an A-level of service, allowing for better flow at non-peak times and better safety. If there are crashes, they tend to be less severe. But putting in a roundabout would mean reconstructing the intersection for a higher cost and may mean buying right-of-way.

Trevor Walter, public works director, wondered how the intersection will work between the light at Highway 371 and the planned roundabout at the future Cypress Drive connection near SuperOne Foods and the Paul Bunyan State Trail Bridge.

Once the signal light is removed from the Golf Course Drive and Highway 210 intersection and placed at the planned Cypress Drive crossing, left-hand turns will be eliminated onto 210 from Golf Course Drive.

Scott Hedlund, SEH, reported if a roundabout is of interest at the Golf Course/Excelsior intersection, further study should be completed now. But Hedlund said it is a reasonable approach to wait until 2018 and see what traffic conditions are like when Cypress Drive is completed.

“I’d be in the camp of waiting to see how traffic patterns develop,” said Council member Rob Moser.

“We might be facing something we don’t know is totally broken yet,” said Mayor Darrel Olson.

In other business, the council looked again at the suggested trail crossing at Excelsior and Conservation Drive by the entrance to the Northland Arboretum and trailhead parking area. Earlier this month, a concrete staircase and ramp from the Lakes 12 movie theater to reach a pedestrian crossing was considered. The cost is estimated to be $98,815. Moser felt the trail should be on the southwest side of the intersection instead, noting the steps would create a maintenance issue during the winter months.

Putting the trail link from the movie theater parking lot driveway off Conservation Drive and then to the southwest side would be a little farther to walk but safer and require less maintenance. Consensus from the council was to extend the trail as part of the project.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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