BAXTER — Baxter City Council unanimously approved two road project resolutions after listening to residents concerned about the coming changes to their neighborhood.
Voting to approve moving the crossing from Knollwood Drive to Inglewood Drive and construction on Foley Road, Isle Drive and Forthun Road during the scheduled meeting Tuesday, Oct. 19, with about eight people in attendance.
The city hosted a listening session Oct. 7 with about 16 people in attendance.
Two local residents spoke on their objections to the road project during Tuesday’s meeting. Both residents spoke previously during the listening session.
Joseph Erickson, area resident, was critical of moving traffic from the nearby commercial area and putting more pressure and traffic on Foley Road with the city’s proposal. He likened it to turning the residential drive into another Highway 210 that would require updating, sooner rather than later.
“If this project goes through, and you have the Inglewood intersection crossing into fully bringing traffic into that residential area,” Erickson said, “and then within five to 10 years, they'll be looking to put an intersection down the road to alleviate that mess.”
The issue of where lights are spaced within Baxter was also raised in an Oct. 15 email sent directly to the Baxter City Council.
The responding memo, dated Oct. 19, states the spacing of signal lights is determined by the zoning of the roadway, what lies around it and how it is used.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has Highway 210’s designation split into two zones with Highway 371 as the dividing line. The east side of Highway 210 traveling into Brainerd is designated as an “urban/urbanizing roadway,” allowing a primary access point at half-mile spacings. The west side of Highway 210 is designated as “rural,” allowing a primary access point every 1 mile.
Although the road designation may change in the future, making this upgrade null and void, the city of Baxter is limited in its ability to improve the safety of its residents under the rules set forth by the state of Minnesota, the memo stated.
Baxter Public Works Director Trevor Walter agreed with Erickson but added without making the necessary changes to Highway 210 now, problems with the crossing at highways 210 and 371 would lead to its failure and be deemed unsafe by MNDOT, resulting in the creation of a possible bypass.
“We've had many different traffic engineers, many different MNDOT engineers over the years. ... It's been looked at by a lot of different people,” Walter said, adding the outcome was the same, with recommendations to create a parallel corridor or risk Highway 371 bypassing Baxter.
The Foley Road, Isle Drive and Forthun Road improvement project’s total estimated cost is $5,597,120.
The project proposes a 26-foot-wide partial urban section for Foley Road with a 5-foot grass boulevard, 10-foot-wide multipurpose paved trail, 22-foot-wide frontage road next to the Inglewood Drive intersection, water main, sanitary sewer to serve the Perch Lake lots at Inglewood Drive section and a mini-roundabout replacing the T-intersection at Isle Drive and Forthun Road.
Moving the railroad crossing and signal intersection from Knollwood Drive to Inglewood Drive has a total estimated project cost of $3,175,800.
The connection would create an alternative north/south route through the city, giving motorists an option beside Highway 371. This would extend Inglewood across Highway 210, the main east/west artery in Baxter, and connect Inglewood with Foley Road.
A final assessment hearing is expected in May of 2022, with a contract awarded in June and construction anticipated to begin in July and be completed by October of next year.