Business leaders, chamber meet to discuss Crosby-Ironton 210 overhaul
Portions of Highway 210 could be closed and narrowed to a single-lane in key parts of Crosby and Ironton come next summer.
The abutting communities of Crosby and Ironton are gearing up for a construction project involving Highway 210 that looks to overhaul their main traffic artery through the course of spring and summer 2021.
On Tuesday, Aug. 25, the Cuyuna Lakes Chamber's Downtown Committee met in a hybrid virtual conference at the Crosby-Ironton High School forum room. The purpose of the committee was to provide a platform for business members and community leaders to discuss the upcoming project and promote a healthy local economy during these times.
Starting in spring and running through late summer, the project entails an extensive overhaul — in some places repaving the existing roads, in others a full reconstruction — of the main road through both Crosby and Ironton. Cuyuna Lakes Chamber Director Brielle Bredsten led the discussion where much of the focus centered around how Main Street businesses can navigate street closures and detours that may push customers away during key summer months.
In this vein, Bredsten said she directed the city of Crosby to apply for Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board grants businesses could use to renovate their back doors and rear entrances to be accommodating to customers. Businesses must also look to keep customers informed on how and when to reach their businesses during construction time, she added, which may entail a visualized map or pamphlet for people to be able to orient themselves with as much ease and convenience as possible. These pamphlets would illustrate the roads that are being closed, what parking is open, and which businesses can be accessed at what points during the course of the project.
“I know people are gonna be parking,” said Linda Peeples, owner of Gifts Galore. “That's what they're thinking, they're gonna be parking and I'm thinking they're gonna be parking on the avenues just to be able to walk to the back doors of businesses.”
Bredsten and participants in the meeting also speculated if the city could utilize busses to alleviate congestion and shuttle pedestrians to businesses they’d like to patronize.
The need to keep guides visual was a common observation by Bredsten who — as a self-described hyper visual person — advocated for larger, more vibrant signs, access to illustrated maps and other ways for visitors to keep themselves apprised of the situation. These signs, which need to be large enough, visible enough, and mobile, she noted, would likely cost in the ballpark of $30, or the alternative would be makeshift signs that may violate current city sign ordinances if those restrictions aren’t waived during construction.
“Well, the problem is going to be when they do construction on the blocks where the gyms are, where the businesses are,” Bredsten said. “We need to redirect people to back doors, so putting a sign that’s neon colored and the detour for that block would bring them in. … Then if we needed to move them the next week because they were working with a block farther down, we could.”
In light of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is prepared to host virtual public meetings with Crosby-Ironton residents and notices will be mailed to adjacent property owners in anticipation of the project.
In turn, Bredsten said it’s key the local businesses work together to come up with a formulated plan the city can throw its support behind.
“I think that the city has been very receptive to our efforts to want to move forward with some projects for this effort,” Bredsten said. “So I think that they would be willing to support us if we came up with a solid plan. It would need to be worked out. It would be basically presenting them ‘This is exactly what we want to do, this is exactly how much it's going to cost.’”
Estimated to cost $6 million, the project entails overhauling 2 miles of Highway 210 from the edge of Ironton at Sixth Avenue, east through Fourth Street then north on Third Avenue and on through Crosby until the turn east on Highway 6/Main Street, that will lead past the entrance to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center where the project ends. The plan is to reconstruct the road from Second Street to Third Avenue in Crosby, then to resurface the existing road from Second Street in Crosby to east of Third Avenue, past the entrance to CRMC.
As illustrated in MnDOT outlines of the project, this is intended to repair damaged roadways or replace overhead street lights, while also taking the opportunity to install more pedestrian access with bike lanes, ramps and sidewalks. The project is planned to be completed from spring into fall 2021, which will entail temporary road closures and detours, while some roadways may be limited to a single lane, though businesses are expected to remain open and accommodations for the CRMC’s emergency hospital entrance will be made. Commercial vehicles and trucks are advised to take the Deerwood shortcut via County Highway 12.
Furthermore, the project is planned to be executed in four phases:
Stage 1: Reconstruction of Highway 210/6 from east of Cross Avenue through the CRMC entrance and Third Avenue. This is expected to be completed throughout the spring of next year, with reconstruction of the road and installation of piping below the roadway planned, so motorists should expect traffic to be narrowed to a single lane guided by flaggers. The CRMC emergency entrance will remain open via Third Avenue.
Stage 2: Reconstruction of the roadway west of Cross Avenue to the intersection of Highway 210 and Highway 6. This portion of the project is expected to be completed during early summer 2021. Northbound and southbound traffic at the intersection will be uninhibited, while motorists are advised to take a detour through downtown Crosby via Second Street and Cross Avenue.
Stage 3: Reconstruction of the roadway from the intersection of 210/6 through Second Street in Crosby. This portion will include the installation of sidewalks and is planned to be completed late summer next year. Motorists are advised to take a detour in downtown Crosby on Second Street and Cross Avenue. To access Highway 6 north of Crosby, use County Highway 31 and County Highway 30 if coming from Crosby/Deerwood or use County Highway 30 and Alice Avenue if coming from Brainerd/Ironton.
Stage 4: Resurfacing of Highway 210 from Seventh Avenue in Ironton to Second Street in Crosby. This portion is to update sidewalks and revamp underground utility pipes located on this stretch. Motorists should expect alternating one-way traffic, with the potential for flaggers and a pilot car while portions of the roadway are closed for construction. Detours include the Highway 210 detour through County Highway 30/Alice Avenue and County Highway 33 in Ironton/Crosby and the Highway 6 detour through County Highway 30/Alice Avenue in Ironton back to Highway 6 north of Crosby.
GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch .