The Minnesota Department of Transportation is working with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission on a plan for Highway 197.
In 2019, MnDOT proposed a series of roundabouts along the corridor between Bemidji Avenue and Gillette Drive, but the Bemidji City Council did not support moving ahead without further buy-in from the community.
The HRDC will lead the planning effort, and in July, the Bemidji City Council will consider approval of a representative panel comprised of local residents, business owners, stakeholder groups and city representatives.
“Our core mission is to help our communities be successful,” said Tim Flathers HRDC Executive Director.
“A viable Highway 197 corridor is vital to the health of our community, and last year’s process ended without a decision. This is an opportunity to find a more community supported design.”
The pavement along the Highway 197 corridor will reach the end of its service life by 2025, and will need to be replaced regardless of alternatives selected.
Safety and access improvements must be made along the corridor and the recommendations identified by the HRDC and the Community Review Panel will be forwarded to the City of Bemidji and MnDOT for consideration of feasibility and construction. Adoption of a unified vision for the project is expected by the summer of 2021. More information is available at this MnDOT webpage.