Baxter City Council: Considers alternatives for Excelsior Road project

BAXTER--Alternative options for a new intersection on Excelsior Road were unveiled during Tuesday night's Baxter City Council meeting. In March, the council heard strong opposition from one business owner and concerns from others regarding a prop...

BAXTER-Alternative options for a new intersection on Excelsior Road were unveiled during Tuesday night's Baxter City Council meeting.

In March, the council heard strong opposition from one business owner and concerns from others regarding a proposal to realign the intersection of Edgewood Drive for a connection with Excelsior Road and a new link to an extended Fairview Road.

The engineer's report looked at intersection options and recommended a realignment of Edgewood Drive to go behind the strip mall near Cub Foods instead of in front of it. Options included extending Fairview, now the service drive along Highway 210, and bringing it in from the south to connect with Excelsior and Edgewood. The new intersection could be a signal light or the recommended single-lane roundabout and on the west side of Frandsen Bank.

After hearing opposition, the council asked staff and consulting engineers to look at additional options, which they began immediately to do in the moments after the March council meeting ended.

Aric Welch, Widseth Smith Nolting consulting engineer, Tuesday said they looked at breaking the project up and doing it in phases.


Development pressure, first from an anticipated building footprint change at Cub Foods, redevelopment of the Gander Mountain building site and potential commercial construction to the south of Frandsen Bank and Trust were all combining to get the city to reconsider how traffic-and increased amounts of it-would flow through along Excelsior Road west of Highway 371.

Welch said one option is to put in a T-intersection with private drive to service the Fruth Beverage property south of Frandsen. Welch said the intersection may work for the Fruth property but not for the entire development, particularly if other retail arrived on the commercially zoned property near the intersection of highways 371 and 210.

Other things Baxter will need to consider with this option would be improvements needed such as turn lanes on Excelsior Road and a potentially wider road to accommodate those needs.

A second task was to look at what could be done if the Fruth property was developed such as a three-legged roundabout. With this option one leg of the roundabout would connect Fairview, which now has a dead-end, and the two other legs would be the east and west lanes of Excelsior Road. There wouldn't be a leg for a realigned Edgewood at this time. Edgewood is the service drive largely parallel to Highway 371. Currently motorists who want to reach one of the restaurants, Cub Foods, or a number of Baxter businesses turn off Highway 371 and are on Excelsior Road briefly before turning north on Edgewood. Original plans were to realign Edgewood as the fourth leg for the roundabout. This new proposal leaves Edgewood out of the roundabout design.

Welch said they'd like to move the roundabout as far south and east as possible. Welch said moving the roundabout to the south should help with concern for getting delivery and refuse trucks in to serve the strip mall tenants.

A trail planned on the north side of the road would be removed.

The last task would be to look at the storm sewer.

The cost to look at these options is expected to be $7,500 bringing the feasibility costs to more than $24,000.


Council member Steve Barrows asked if the trail could be changed to run on the south side of the Frandsen Bank property and then connect with the Highway 371 intersection. Welch said that was possible and may mitigate some negative feelings. There was discussion whether a trail or sidewalk by the Holiday station on the north side of Excelsior Road would benefit or have an issue with a pedestrian/bike option on that side.

Development and redevelopment of commercial property in the area are some of the reasons the city of Baxter is looking at redesigning an intersection at Excelsior Road and Edgewood Drive while creating a connection to Fairview Road.

Mayor Darrel Olson said he was struggling with coming to peace with this whole scenario.

Barrows said he was feeling the pinch of spending a lot of money and not getting anywhere.

"I'm concerned about that," Barrows said.

Another question the council considered was who would help pay for the expense of the study and the roundabout. Developers paid for an earlier traffic study.

Council member Mark Cross said he understood the funding concern and there may be a formula that can go into this to see how much properties are benefiting from it and how much it will cost. Olson said he's being told if they do the first option of the T-intersection it will fail nearly immediately.

Barrows said he was in favor of spending for the feasibility study to see what the research brings.


All three options are part of the study.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

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