Chamber Blog

Ruth Ann Hanson, Chamber Area Director
Ruth Ann Hanson
Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
Lisa Paxton
Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
Shannon Janco

Baxter Transportation Concepts Aired

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baxter and Mn/DOT officials shared updates on Elder Drive and information about transportation concepts being evaluated by the City of Baxter to about 40 chamber member business representatives at a meeting hosted by the Chamber’s Brainerd/Baxter Business Council.

Congratulations to Baxter for exploring these concepts in anticipation of transportation needs for its growing commercial and residential areas. The Chamber continues to support the development of a regional transportation plan to establish priorities for future highway, street, transit, and train expansion and preservation projects. Congressman Oberstar has included funds for this regional plan in the proposed Federal Transportation Reauthorization Bill, and we are hopeful of its approval, but this may be delayed up to 18 months due to other priorities from the White House. Funding for local transportation projects continues to be a challenge, as all projects require a local match – either all or in part.

· Anderson Bros. Construction is nearing the completion of a ¾ intersection for Elder Drive. The road should be open by October 31.
· The Elder Drive project prompted the city and Mn/DOT to investigate extending Elder Drive to Excelsior Road. They are gathering preliminary cost estimates, traffic details, and sewer and water expansion. While Mn/DOT has allocated some funds for the project, the city will need to contribute some funds if they decide to proceed.
· Because Inglewood serves as a through street to Woida, County Road 77 and the Excelsior business districts, moving the traffic signal from Knollwood to Inglewood may be beneficial. Challenges include a trail connection and railroad crossing. This could offer an opportunity to extend city water/sewer into the residential area on the north edge of Perch Lake.
· The city is exploring grants to extend trails along Fairview as part of the “Safe Routes to School” program.
· Potlatch has requested an upgraded access to Highway 210 and railroad crossing on the west side of Baxter (where Stock Lumber was located).
· County Road 48 and 371 traffic continues to increase and has been the site of several accidents. The city has talked with Congressman Oberstar’s office about funds to build an overpass that includes a trail but a lot of planning needs to occur and no preliminary design is done. If this project occurred, there is consideration for realigning County Road 48 south and west along Mapleton to connect to the Camp Jim Road in Sylvan Township, Cass County. The current portion of County Road 48 from Mapleton north would become a city street.
· While it hasn’t been discussed for five years, at one time there was interest in moving the County Road 48 intersection at 210 to Memorywood to address safety and stacking concerns at this intersection. Currently not even in the “concept” phase.
· The issue that generated the most discussion was the extension of Cypress Drive. The city has approved a roundabout for the intersection of Cypress and Excelsior. There were many comments about the congestion at Golf Course and Excelsior, widening of Excelsior, and extending Cypress to 49 to the north and College Drive to the south. The current plan includes creating a ¾ intersection at Golf Course and 210 and moving the traffic signal at Golf Course to the new Cypress and 210 intersection.
· Because of the planned Baxter Medical Clinic expansion on Isle Drive there are options to extend Isle Drive in a cul de sac to the clinic or continuing all the way south to County Road 48. All improvements would be assessed to adjacent property owners if current policies were followed.
· Improvements to Novotny Road (near Edina Realty and Brainerd General Rental) are being driven by potential developer interest and include infrastructure expansion and road straightening.

Special thanks to Nate Grotzke, Chair of the Business Council, for moderating this meeting.

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