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East Grand Forks residents share thoughts on proposed roundabout during neighborhood meeting

Safety concerns, impacts on property values and emergency personnel were among top concerns residents have about the proposed roundabout.

A steady stream of cars head north on Bygland Road during the morning commute in East Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Cars head north on Bygland Road during the morning commute in East Grand Forks in this 2017 Herald file photo. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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EAST GRAND FORKS – Safety concerns and impacts to property value were some of the concerns East Grand Forks residents shared during a neighborhood meeting discussing a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Bygland Road and Rhinehart Drive.

The roundabout has been talked about on a City Council level for more than a year. In April of 2021, the council voted 4-3 to pick the roundabout as the desired project for Federal Subtarget Funding over another project that would have rebuilt a segment of 10th Street Northeast.

However, a couple of weeks after the council’s decision, Mayor Steve Gander vetoed the action.

Wednesday night’s meeting was to bring the roundabout back up for discussion at a community level to get the feedback of residents, many of whom are opposed to the idea.

Among concerns residents have is how emergency personnel and semi trucks will be able to pass through.

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"How much does a roundabout slow down police cars, firetrucks ambulances — anybody that needs to get there?" one resident asked.

Many residents brought up having a traffic signal at the intersection as opposed to a roundabout, but Gander said the intersection doesn't meet the conditions by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to justify a traffic signal.

The impact the roundabout could have on businesses — such as Orton’s convenience store — also was brought up during the meeting.

Frank Orton said the project creates uncertainty on the impacts it could have on his business.

"Every year this comes up we don't know what the future of traffic in and out of the site is. It's hard to reinvest when you don't know what's going to happen one year, two years, three years or four years down the road," Orton said.

READ MORE EAST GRAND FORKS CITY NEWS

In a separate interview with the Herald, longtime East Grand Forks resident Ellis Austin said one of his top concerns about the roundabout is safety. Austin said he had mentioned his concerns about safety during last year’s April council meeting, when the roundabout was being discussed.

“At the council meeting when they first introduced they wanted to do this, I had gone online and the Minnesota DOT had a special article on the fact that they should not be put in residential areas due to safety concerns for pedestrians and bicycles.”

While the roundabout is being looked at to help traffic from Rhinehart Drive access Bygland Road and alleviate the wait time, Austin said it isn't going to help.

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“It’s going to alleviate nothing. There’s only two times a day that the traffic out there is heavy and it’s only during the school year.”

While Austin said he isn’t opposed to roundabouts, he feels the intersection of Bygland Road and Rhinehart Drive is not an ideal place. Austin said he is also not directly impacted by the roundabout as he lives a couple of blocks away, but he is concerned about those that will be affected.

“I’ve lived here for 40-some years. This is my community and all my neighbors that are going to be highly affected by it are my friends,” he said.

If the proposed roundabout project is moved forward, Austin said he would start a citywide petition to stop it from happening.

Related Topics: EAST GRAND FORKS
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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