Highway 197 project back to the forefront of local discussions

The Bemidji City Council will discuss the new Highway 197 corridor study during their meeting this evening, and the Beltrami County Board is slated to discuss it tomorrow afternoon during their work session.

MnDOT and the Headwaters Regional Development Commission will hold a virtual open house on the study on May 24.

Two years ago, the City Council rejected a motion to install a series of roundabouts along the corridor, and a community review panel has since been formed to review the best options.

According to city documents, this community review panel has offered a couple of alternative designs for the corridor from the Paul Bunyan Mall access to the Menards entrance.

Both alternatives include a roundabout intersection at Menard’s, with Alternative 1 offering roundabouts at Middle School Drive and at Hannah Avenue. Alternative 2 keeps the traffic signals at those intersections.

Public outreach will continue this summer, and a final plan is scheduled to be presented this September.

Construction is slated to begin around 2026, at the latest.

No formal action on this construction project, which would be a cost-share situation between the City and MnDOT, is expected this evening.

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