A Baxter intersection, expected to see increased traffic as the city continues to develop, had two crashes in 10 years.
But with Baxter’s vision to create an alternative north/south route for the city similar to the Cypress Road addition, increased traffic is expected at Isle Drive and Glory Road within the next decade. The city has been planning to move the signal intersection currently at Knollwood Drive and Highway 210 to the east with a new crossing at Inglewood. That change would help usher in a new path linking Highway 371 to 210 and even Woida Road to the north, the city’s version of a metro beltway potentially taking pressure off the Highway 371 corridor.
What has been termed the “western reliever system” would use Isle Drive, which travels by Walmart and medical clinics and the Brainerd Lakes Surgical Center. Traffic could then use Forthun and Foley roads to link Isle Drive with Inglewood for the western corridor.
The city is looking at each of those projects and has a special meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, at city hall to look at the Highway 210 and Inglewood Drive railway crossing project. A public hearing on the 2022 Foley Road, Isle Drive, and Forthun Road project is planned at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Darek Arens, consulting engineer from Bolton & Menk, told the Baxter City Council during a Sept. 21 council session, the Isle Drive and Glory Road intersection — near Walmart — had one crash in the last five years and two in the last 10 years. Both were minor injury crashes.
Arens said recently there was concern from residents that a lot of people were failing to stop or were flying through the intersection.
The Glory Road and Isle Drive intersection has a two-way stop sign to control traffic. Vehicles on Isle Drive are controlled by stop signs, which were recently upgraded with additional signs warning motorists the crossing traffic on Glory Road does not stop. Arens said those signs, which could have been put up sooner given the gap the intersection covers, make it clear to drivers crossing Glory Road that they need to yield to crossing traffic.
Arens said the assumption is for more development in the area and increasing traffic on the route. Currently two corners on the Glory Road and Isle Drive intersection are not yet developed. Looking at the potential for changing traffic patterns and what is currently there, Arens said putting in a signal light intersection so close to the light at Elder and Glory roads, which leads into the Walmart Super Center, wasn’t recommended.
Options looked at adding turn lanes, creating a four-way stop or a roundabout. Arens said the recommendation for now is to leave the intersection the way it is with the two stop signs on Isle Drive. A four-way stop would be a temporary solution if traffic increases or there is more need for a pedestrian crossing. A roundabout would be the ultimate recommendation, although Arens said that is also the most costly option and isn’t recommended until changes or growth are driving factors. Most of the traffic on Glory Road at the Isle Drive intersection is turning left to reach businesses and medical offices south on Isle Drive.
Council member Mark Cross said the planning is looking at traffic today but he believes the route will take a lot of traffic as even more than Cypress Drive, it makes a full connection to the north and south linking Woida Road and Highland Scenic Road.
“Personally I’m thinking this will have a lot more traffic on it,” Cross said, noting they can’t get the numbers because the road isn’t there yet but they have to plan for the future. Cross noted the senior living development plans in the area and noted Glory then leads into a mostly residential area after the Isle Drive intersection. “I’m not in agreement necessarily with this report other than the fact that it probably deserves a roundabout,” Cross said. “And my take is that I think it probably deserves a roundabout there more than it deserves a roundabout where we are putting it — you know, the next one north.”
Cross referred to a roundabout proposed by Home Depot.
Arens said the goal was to have options and plans in place to react as the situation changes with growth. Trevor Walter, public works director, noted the intersection control evaluation report does look out beyond today’s traffic with projections 20 years into the future. Walter also pointed out hundreds of thousands of dollars went into the Glory and Isle intersection less than five years ago to reach a 10-ton standard. Putting in a roundabout now could come with a $1 million price tag.
“Yes, it is going to be needed in the future, but it is not immediately needed today,” Walter said.
Putting in a mini-roundabout by Home Depot comes with an estimated $217,000 cost because it would be added to other road construction plans for the area, Walter said.
Mayor Darrel Olson said looking at the cost, putting in a roundabout at Isle and Glory was probably premature.
“I don’t think we are ready for that,” Olson said.
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.