Road rage and traffic jams

Traffic congestion plagues a number of streets and intersections around Minot, and the problem will only get worse without some fixes, according to data released at a public input meeting held Thursday.

A transportation study being conducted for the City of Minot, Ward County and North Dakota Department of Transportation, already has noted that traffic congestion is affecting the response abilities of emergency vehicles, whose calls have tripled. The impact of agricultural traffic, military traffic and truck traffic also have been identified as issues that need to be addressed in a 20-year plan for Minot’s future transportation system.

A key area of concern is the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, where SRF Consulting Group is studying various intersection proposals that could include an interchange or two. The focus is on the intersections of 36th, 30th and 21st streets northwest with the bypass. Maps displayed Thursday showed different options for handling traffic using interchanges and underpass/overpass configurations.

Also being studied is a southwest bypass running east and west on 66th Street South and north and south either on the existing 83 Bypass or possibly on a new route west of the bypass.

Prospective developers on North Hill want to know what the future transportation plan will look like. As long as there’s uncertainty, developers aren’t going to move forward with projects, said one meeting participant.

Craig Vaughn, project engineer with SRF Consulting Group, said the transportation plan, due out in draft form next April, will not pinpoint future construction but will indicate favored alternatives. It can serve as a guide in determining where to develop, he said. More details would be needed to implement the plan, and the state, county and city can leverage information in the plan to help formulate those details, he said.

Maps on display at the meeting showed more than 20 points in the city where congestion is affecting intersections. Particularly in the evenings, trouble spots exist on Broadway at 37th, 31st and 20th avenues southwest and University Avenue. Other trouble spots exist on 16th Street near Dakota Square Mall and at Fourth Avenue Northwest; along 21st Avenue Northwest at Eighth and 16th streets; and at intersections with Burdick at 11th Street Southwest and 27th Street Southeast.

A traffic assessment shows Broadway traffic already is over capacity from 28th Avenue Southwest to Fifth Avenue Northwest. Unless changes are made, by 2035, the entire length of Broadway will experience congestion, along with many other streets, including parts of the new Northeast Bypass, Third Street Northeast, 16th Street Northwest and Southwest, the U.S. 2 & 52 Bypass and 37th Avenue Southwest where it runs west of 16th Street.

The goals of the study are to address safety, accessibility, mobility and system preservation, which involves keeping the road system affordable and in good repair. Another goal is to look for ways to integrate multiple forms of transportation, including providing for pedestrians and bicycles.

As part of the study, two additional public meetings are tentatively scheduled for February and March, along with a meeting in April to release the draft plan.

People also are encouraged to go online, review the data and maps and submit comments.

The information displayed Thursday will be posted online soon and will be accessible from a link on the City of Minot website home page at (www.minotnd.org). Direct access will be available at (transplan2035.minotnd.org/). People can follow Minot TP2035 on Facebook and Twitter for updates and to submit comments.