Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 197 Corridor Study


Frequently Asked Questions

Traffic statistics

How many crashes have there been?

Over the past 10 years there have been 577 crashes on the corridor.

What is the breakdown of crashes at each intersection?

Over 10 years, the signalized intersections of Irvine Ave, Hannah Ave, Middle School Dr, and Hwy 71 all saw about 70-80 crashes each, and were all identified as critical crash locations.

  • 32% of them were rear-end
  • 49% were right-angle or left-turn crashes.

How many crashes were related to drug/alcohol use, distracted driving, or weather?

Most crashes are caused by driver error and could be decreased with design related improvements.

  • 5 of 577 crashes were related to alcohol
  • 53 of 577 crashes were related to distraction
  • 96 of 577 crashes were related to snow

How were traffic growth projections determined?

Traffic growth projections were developed based on historic volume trends, and Bemidji's expected population growth between current and 2040 conditions.

  • Traffic volumes on Hwy 197 have decreased from 21,000 in 2006 to 16,500 in 2018 (-21%)
  • The forecast expects that these volumes could increase back to 21,000 by 2040 (+25%), and peak at 23,100 during summer recreation peaks (+40%)

Alternative design

Why would center medians be considered for a project?

Center medians help control the balance between safety and access.

  • Center medians decrease crashes and make corridors safer by making turning movements more consistent and predictable. They allow drivers to make unrestricted right-in, right-out turning movements
    • It would increase corridor safety by 25-30% percent
  • Center medians would also allow the highest number of business access as right-in, right-out movements can be spaced closer than in full access locations that require more spacing

Why did the corridor study recommend that the Hwy 71 and Irvine Ave intersections remain signalized?

These two intersections had higher northbound and southbound traffic volumes (on Irvine Ave) than the other intersections.

  • The traffic operations analysis demonstrated that traffic would back-up too much on the minor leg and not meet acceptable operational standards.
  • The analysis showed that a Traffic Signal would provide acceptable traffic operations for all hours of the day

Can left turn arrows and right turn lanes improve safety at the signalized intersections?

  • Left turn arrows during peak travel times could provide up to a 40% safety benefit for left turning vehicles over a regular green light, but it also impacts operations negatively (delay).
    • At Ridgeway Ave it would only be a 5.5% intersection safety benefit
  • Flashing Yellow Arrows provide a 16% safety benefit to left-turn crash types over a regular green light with similar signal timing
    • At Ridgeway Ave this would be a 2.2% intersection safety benefit

Will large trucks be able to access businesses?

Yes, delivery trucks are an important part of the vitality of Highway 197. They will be considered in the final design and will be able to access businesses.

  • In most cases, for a delivery truck to access a business, it would result an in increased travel time of less than a minute
  • Access design will incorporate what size truck would be turning into the each business in order to allow deliveries to/from each business along Hwy 197

Can large trucks use roundabouts?

Minnesota's roundabouts are designed to accommodate vehicles of all sizes; including emergency vehicles, buses, farm equipment and semi-trucks with trailers.

  • Like regular intersections, motorists must give large trucks extra space while turning in a roundabout. In multi-lane roundabouts, large trucks may straddle both lanes while driving through them.
  • Roundabouts are also designed with an interior area specifically designed for trucks called a truck apron
    • It is a raised section of concrete around the central island that acts as an extra lane for large vehicles and vehicles with trailers
    • The back wheels of the oversize vehicle can ride up on the truck apron so it may easily complete the turn
  • The concrete truck apron is raised in order to discourage use by smaller vehicles


Can roundabout crosswalks be signalized?

A final design of any roundabouts would consider activated pedestrian hybrid beacons (flashing lights), but these are non-standard for urban applications of roundabouts. Signing and striping of crosswalks will be closely reviewed to prioritize safe crossings.

How does a pedestrian safely cross a roundabout?

When pedestrians are crossing, drivers should come to a complete stop and wait until the pedestrians are at least one lane past the lane they are in.

  • Pedestrians should cross only at crosswalks, and always stay on the designated walkways
  • Pedestrians cross roadways one direction at a time, using the median island as a halfway point where you can check for approaching traffic
  • Drivers should never pass another vehicle that has stopped or is slowing down at a crosswalk

How does a bike safely use a roundabout?

Like motor vehicles, bicyclists must obey the rules of the roundabout as they proceed through the intersection.

  • Bicyclists can choose to ride through the roundabout with traffic, or walk their bicycles through the pedestrian crosswalks.
  • Bicyclist should use extra caution when transitioning from bike paths, roads and sidewalks.
  • Bicyclists are considered pedestrians if they are lawfully operating their bike on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

Are roundabouts safe for pedestrians and bicycles?

Roundabouts slow traffic down, shorten pedestrian crossing distances, and allow pedestrians to cross only one direction of traffic at a time. These are proven countermeasures that reduce pedestrian crashes.

How many pedestrian crashes have occurred on the corridor?

Over the last 10 years there has been one reported crash involving a pedestrian on the corridor. The crash occurred at Hannah Ave and resulted in a serious injury to the pedestrian.

City streets

Can city streets handle additional traffic that might need to use side streets to access or exit a business?

City of Bemidji engineering reviewed this concern and the city streets are designed to accommodate the anticipated additional traffic. Because of the current delay with traffic signals, many motorists already use city streets to bypass the corridor.

Are pedestrian safety improvements being planned for City Streets anticipated to receive additional traffic from Hwy 197?

Whenever the city reconstructs a city street, the City takes a close look at what can be done during the design process to improve safety for pedestrians and bicycles.

Property impacts

How will a property owner be affected if the project impacts cause their property to be out of compliance with local planning ordinances (e.g. greenspace, parking, setbacks, etc.)?

If a property is currently in compliance with the Ordinance (with all regulations such as greenspace, parking, setbacks, etc) and then becomes noncompliant due to this project, the property owner would be compensated for the impact.

  • The property owner would then need variances in the future for any expansion or alterations to the site.
  • If they don't take compensation, they technically are still considered a conforming lot.

Will a property owner be compensated for loss of land, restructure of entrances/exits, loss of access points, loss of land value or disruption to parking flow?

A qualified appraiser will estimate the market value of the State's proposed land acquisition.

As a property owner, what are my rights for property that is being impacted by a public improvement project?

MnDOT's Office of Land Management provides a "Guidebook for Property Owners". The guide outlines the laws and procedures MnDOT must follow in the land acquisition process. You can find it at mndot.gov/row.

What is the estimated right of way costs for construction?

Estimated right of way costs have not been determined at this point.

Public involvement

What is the role of the community review panel in 2019?

The goal of the community review panel was to create a committee of community leaders, residents and business owners that would represent the communities interests throughout the entire corridor study process. This community based approach allowed for a direct connection to invested stakeholders through a transparent and collaborative process. The panel helped to identify the current issues and develop project alternatives, while fostering conversations within the community.

What was the breakdown of membership on that community review panel?

At the beginning of the study there was a call for volunteers (news release, public meeting, advertising, website, business interviews, newspaper and other recommendations). The committee was comprised of 25 people representing:

  • City of Bemidji
  • Beltrami County
  • Joint Planning Board
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire department
  • Transit
  • Snowplow/highway maintenance
Advocacy Groups
  • Corridor residents
  • Disabled users
  • Bikes
  • Pedestrians
  • Education
  • Seniors
  • Economic Development
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Large retail
  • Small retail
  • Banks
  • Food service
  • Auto
  • Inn Keepers

What was the public engagement process in 2019?

Timeline for public engagement development
Public engagement process