How fast should drivers be going on Crow Wing County 48?
A speed study is in the works for Highway 48.
The highway, also known as Highland Scenic Drive, curves south of Perch Lake connecting Highway 210 in west Baxter to Fourth Street Southwest in Brainerd.
Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said a resident contacted her about the need for a speed study, expressing concern for the speed of vehicles in a busy corridor.
Nystrom said no one has called her about the road in a long time.
Crow Wing County Highway Engineer Tim Bray said the last time a speed study was done on Highland Scenic Drive was in 1989.
Bray said the resident did his homework regarding statutes for speed studies and called the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for information from the regional engineer.
Speed limits are set by MnDOT on county roads. Bray said cities and townships have some authority to set speed limits as long as certain criteria are met but the county doesn’t appear to have that option based on interpretation of the state law. Commissioner Paul Thiede said there is logic in that as county highways cross jurisdictional lines.
Bray said it may take up to a year for the study to travel through MnDOT for final approval.
Speeds on the highway vary now from 40 mph between Highway 210 and Mountain Ash on the western leg to 55 mph to 45 mph again and then down to 30 mph as the highway moves into Brainerd at Fourth and Laurel.
Nystrom said the increased residential building has created more driveways off the highway and more people are out on the shoulders jogging and biking. She said people are really probably driving 65 mph on the stretch marked 55 mph.
Slowing down adds 3.5 extra minutes to the drive, Nystrom said. She advocated looking at a 40 mph limit.
Thiede said it’s a bit of a misjudgment to predict what MnDOT will do. Just because there is a study, it doesn’t mean the speed limit will be reduced, Thiede said.
Bray said MnDOT will observe what speed drivers are comfortable with on the road now. If 90 percent are going 60 mph, the speed may be at the 55 mph limit.
Bray said the school zone should also be taken into consideration, which has been an addition since the last speed study.
A lot of stock is given to the environment and the way people are currently comfortable driving the route, Bray said.
Commissioner Paul Koering said with the public discussion, perhaps Nystrom will hear from more people interested in the subject, which is good for the county board.