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HRDC and MnDOT hold virtual open house for Highway 197 project
May 24, 2021 - June 11, 2021
Residents and business owners are invited to take part in a virtual open house to provide comments on the new Highway 197 corridor alternatives developed. Along with an online survey, MnDOT and the Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) will be at a variety of events along the corridor to answer questions and provide comments. The virtual open house will provide the opportunity to give feedback on the two new alternative layouts for the corridor.
The HRDC has led the collaboration process with the local Community Review Panel (CRP) for the Highway 197 project in Bemidji. The group meets each month to discuss new solutions to the previously proposed alternatives in 2020. The virtual open house will be available May 24 through June 11 and can be found on the project website: www.mndot.gov/d2/projects/studies/hwy197-bemidji .
Most recently, the CRP reviewed the two new alternatives proposed for the Highway 197 corridor in Bemidji. Joe DeVore, an engineering consultant with KLJ, has been present at each meeting to review expected safety improvements, present analysis on CRP concepts, and provide engineering insight to each segment of the corridor. Based on the input from the CRP, KLJ has provided two new alternative layouts for community input. These new concepts include CRP feedback of prioritizing business ingress and egress and multimodal improvements while still addressing key safety improvements responding to recent crash locations.
Over the past month, MnDOT, HRDC, KLJ and the CRP have presented these alternatives to business owners along the corridor. Beginning May 24, the virtual open house will provide an opportunity for community input on the new alternatives for the corridor. Along with the virtual open house, the groups will schedule events in Bemidji to share the new concepts in a variety of ways. More information on these community engagement efforts can be found on the project website.
In 2019, MnDOT conducted an in-depth corridor study which ultimately resulted in the proposal of a roundabout corridor. That preferred alternative didn’t garner enough community support and was ultimately voted against by the Bemidji City Council. This renewed effort has been an attempt to start over. Since a resurfacing project has to take place regardless, because the pavement will reach the end of its service life, MnDOT’s goal is to also include multi-modal improvements that will increase the safety and vitality of the corridor for motorists, businesses, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Over the past several months, HRDC has met with the CRP to evaluate priorities and propose a new alternative to meet those goals. In June and July of 2020, the HRDC developed a list of volunteers to serve on a community review panel that will review the current conditions and evaluate all of the potential solutions in order to find one that best represents the community’s values. The members of the community review panel can be found on the project website.
The HRDC, MnDOT and KLJ plan to present the results of the virtual open house to the CRP later this summer. By September, the CRP will make a recommendation to the Bemidji City Council on the preferred alternative for the Highway 197 corridor.
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