ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Community members, city leaders review potential options for U.S. Highway 2 in downtown Crookston

The city of Crookston and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are conducting the corridor study with SRF Consulting to evaluate current conditions and potential improvements on U.S. Highway 2 in downtown Crookston, a stretch of road that has proven dangerous for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in the community.

IMG_9125.JPG
Clayton Briggs places a sticker to show his opinion of potential alternatives for U.S. Highway 2 through downtown Crookston at a public open house on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Ingrid Harbo / Grand Forks Herald
We are part of The Trust Project.

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Approximately 20 people came to review proposed alternatives for U.S. Highway 2 through downtown Crookston at a corridor study open house on Tuesday, May 24.

The city of Crookston and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are conducting the corridor study with SRF Consulting to evaluate current conditions and potential improvements on U.S. Highway 2 in downtown Crookston, a stretch of road that has proven dangerous for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

“It’s great to see the community come out and share their input and guide the process because, ultimately, they are the stakeholders in this city,” said Molly Stewart, project manager from SRF Consulting. “(The Minnesota Department of Transportation is) funding it, but they are trying to find a solution that works for the large masses, so we appreciate when there are people that come out and engage in the process."

Crookston residents have called for changes to make the downtown stretch of highway safer for pedestrians and cyclists, especially at the corner of North Broadway and Roberts Street, in downtown Crookston. The corner has been the location of multiple accidents involving pedestrians, most recently in October 2021, when a 10-year-old girl was hit by a semi while riding her bike on the sidewalk. In 2018, former Crookston City Council member Bobby Baird was hit by a car at the intersection, and in 2008, Ramona Unke was hit and killed by a semi there.

In late October 2021, MnDOT closed the right-turn lane on Roberts Street to North Broadway as a temporary way to make the sidewalk at the corner safer for pedestrians.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Highway 2 corridor study was initially accessibility-driven, as the sidewalks in downtown Crookston have been deemed inaccessible by MnDOT’s ADA office. But it's also an opportunity to address pedestrian safety concerns along Highway 2 and inform a long-term solution for downtown traffic with the needs of drivers, pedestrians and downtown businesses in mind.

At the open house, community members viewed and discussed two potential alternatives for Highway 2, identified in the corridor study. The alternatives were created with input from community review panels, made up of 15 to 20 community members including residents, business owners and elected officials. The community review panels identified concerns along the corridor and priorities for corridor improvements.

At present, Highway 2 though downtown Crookston splits into two one-way streets with three lanes each, with eastbound traffic using Main Street and westbound traffic using Broadway. There is on-street parking on either side of the street.

Alternative A would maintain Highway 2 through downtown Crookston as two one-way streets, but reduce the number of lanes on each street from three to two. This option maintains downtown parking, extends the sidewalks and adds a bike lane to one side of the street.

Alternative B would would move Highway 2 to only be on Main Street, and would convert Main Street and Broadway into two-way streets. As Highway 2, Main Street would remain under MnDOT’s jurisdiction, while Broadway would become the city’s responsibility. Main Street would have parking on one side of the street, while Broadway would have parking on both sides. Both streets would have extended sidewalks and bike lanes on both side of the street.

Brandon Carlson, public works director, said either option would shorten the length of street crossings from 50 feet to 25 feet.

“The easiest way to make it safer for pedestrians is to shorten the time they have to cross the street,” he said.

Those in attendance showed their preference for Alternative A with neon orange stickers on posters depicting either alternative and the challenges and opportunities that come with the options. For Alternative A, most people indicated they strongly support the option, while on the poster for Alternative B, most people indicated they oppose the option.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE
John Reitmeier, one of the owners of Canna Corners, opened the store in downtown Crookston on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Wayne Melbye, a City Council member, preferred Alternative A, saying it would be hard for semi trucks on the highway to navigate the tight turn onto a two-way street in downtown Crookston. He said Alternative B might be feasible if semi traffic was eliminated from the downtown area.

“But that’s not going to happen,” he said. “They still have to bring hardware to the hardware store and food to China Moon.”

But not everybody preferred Alternative A. Mayor Dale Stainbrook thinks Alternative B would better suit the community because the two-way traffic will have more of a traffic-calming effect.

He said no matter the decision, the corridor study has been a good opportunity for community involvement.

“Whatever decision, A or B, is going to affect our downtown for the next 50-plus years,” said Stainbrook.

If Alternative A is chosen, work could start on the project in 2025 or 2026. The timeline is less clear with Alternative B, as MnDOT and the city would have to work out contracts for returning Broadway to the city’s jurisdiction.

After the corridor study is complete, MnDOT and SRF Consulting will bring their final recommendations to Crookston City Council, and the council will vote to move forward with a plan. Once a plan is approved, MnDOT can move start planning and eventually begin construction on the downtown corridor.

Related Topics: CROOKSTON
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
What to read next
The University of Minnesota is working on testing techniques as monkeypox continues to spread and polio appears in New York City wastewater.
How did online sleuths figure out an approximately 30-second scene in "Better Call Saul" was filmed in Rochester?
Callers, who were driving by the area, said they saw a person trapped underneath the UTV.
Police called the case a “tragic incident” in a press release, which didn’t include additional information about the circumstances.