Bemidji City Council to hear 197 update during tonight’s work session

The Bemidji City Council will hear an update from MnDOT about the planned construction on Highway 197.

No formal action is expected during this work session tonight, but the council will hear the results of the latest study for the project.

The initial plan presented to the council over two years ago included a series of six roundabouts along the corridor, which was rejected by the then-council.

The study for that plan included nearly 1,000 participants, with about a third of them approving roundabouts.

The study done this year included just over 400 participants, with over half favoring the idea of roundabouts at Middle School Drive and Hannah Avenue. The other alternative includes keeping the signals at those intersections, but both plans include a roundabout at the Menards access.

Over half of the participants are also in favor of a roundabout at the mall access, but that one didn’t make it to the proposed alternatives.

The city’s cost share for the $18.5 million project on Highway 197 is expected to be about $2.6 million.

Federal grants may be available for the city’s share and the project isn’t expected to begin for at least another three to four years.

The council will also consider hiring a consultant to analyze Hannah Avenue and Middle School Drive for how roundabouts may impact those city streets.

The consultant’s fee is expected to be $26,000.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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