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New 4-way stop at Hwy 59 and 22

Motorists on Highway 59 now have to stop at County Road 22. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

In the name of safety, motorists will be making an extra stop along Highway 59 South now.

On Aug. 5, the Minnesota Department of Transportation installed a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Highway 59 and County Road 22, which leads to the Detroit Country Club and Shoreham.

“We took a look at the intersection in general, and Highway 59 has on average about 6,000 cars a day. In the summertime and weekends, it’s obviously more,” said District 4 Traffic Engineer Tom Swenson.

“And on the cross street, County 22, it’s actually pretty close to 2,000 — I think it’s about 1,900-some west and 1,700 east of 59.”

So MnDOT studied the area to determine if it warranted traffic signals, and it does. Crews installed stop signs this summer in anticipation of the 2017 signal lights project.

Swenson said the decision was similar to the Highway 59 and Willow Street crossing, where crews put up stop signs a couple years before the roundabout was constructed this summer.

“It’s had some right angle crashes,” he said of the 59-22 intersection, “so we thought as an interim measure for safety, we’d add the four-way stop between now and when we were able to install the signal.”

It’s not protocol for the state to put up stop signs before the signal lights are installed, but at an intersection with a history of crashes, it’s a good fix in the meantime.

Swenson said that though the “skew” of the land in that area — meaning the slight hill and curve just north of the intersection — may contribute to some of the crashes, it isn’t necessarily the reason the state is installing signal lights at the intersection.

“We’ve got some intersections in our district that are perfectly perpendicular, and if you have enough people that have to make a decision like that, having to cross or make a left on a busy highway, sometimes bad things happen,” he said.

“Where 6,000 meets 2,000, that’s a lot of decisions on an average day, let alone what we have on weekends and in the summer.”

The stop signs have been up nearly two weeks, and Swenson said he’s only received one public comment, from a man noting that now there’s one more stop on Highway 59.

“Four way stops are extremely safe, but it adds to delays to folks on 59, Swenson said. “Actually, the delay on the cross street probably gets better because you’re taking turns. But it’s certainly a change for the folks on the main line.”

MnDOT considered installing a roundabout at the intersection, but determined there was not enough room, since it would have cut into the golf course property.

Besides the safety concerns and delays, Swenson said it’s actually signaling something else positive for the city and surrounding area — growth.

“It’s a sign that cities in our area are growing. Traffic needs are increasing and we want to keep people moving, but we want to keep them safe, too,” he said.

Other road projects

MnDOT is working on several other road projects this summer, a couple which start Monday and will have an effect on Detroit Lakes residents.

There will be intermittent lane closures when a pavement marking project begins Aug. 18. Crews will work near intersections on Highway 10, Highway 34 and Highway 59 in Detroit Lakes.

The second project includes work on Highway 59 north of Detroit Lakes, and motorists will encounter a detour, lane closures and possible delays during the road resurfacing and culvert replacement project.

While culverts are being replaced, Highway 59 will close between Callaway and Ogema, and motorists will detour onto Becker County Road 14, Becker County Road 21 and Becker County Road 34.

The detour will be in place for approximately two weeks. Residents whose destination falls within the road closure will be allowed to use Highway 59 during the project, but should note that the road may not be passable while individual culverts are replaced.

Crews also will resurface Highway 59 between Detroit Lakes and the Buffalo River north of Callaway. Flaggers will allow one-way, alternating traffic through the work zone.

Motorists entering from driveways or roads that intersect with Highway 59 within a work zone must wait for the pilot car to pass, then follow it through the work zone.

The Highway 59 project began in May. The project was temporarily suspended in June for scheduling purposes. The road work is expected to be complete by mid-September, weather permitting.