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In the Know: A lot to like about street project

If you have driven through Glenwood this summer, you have no doubt noticed that Glenwood is going through the same main street rebuilding that Alexandria did a few years ago.

Needless to say, it was pretty disruptive for people driving through town before the end of July but now with the main intersection open for three directions (north, south and west) traffic on Highway 29 from Alex can head south on Minnesota 104 or west on Minnesota 28-29 without detours or disruptions.

Glenwood had four lanes running down its main drag, Minnesota Avenue, but because of lighter traffic loads than Alexandria's Broadway, it is moving to three lanes, two traffic lanes and a center turn lane.

Eliminating that extra lane means the area between the curb and downtown buildings can be expanded, which means there will be a sidewalk, amenity zone and bike lane. And there will be 3 to 4 feet between cars parked along the curb and the traffic lane.

Of course, there are folks who are worried about the reduction of lanes from four to two for traffic. That, I guess, will have to pass the test of time when the roadway is opened completely. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says it works well where installed in other communities.

One thing motorists will appreciate is the left turn signal for traffic on Minnesota to go along with the turn lane. When done, a person will be able to pull into the turn lane, make a left hand turn, and only have to cross one lane of traffic, which will be stopped. No more waiting for both traffic lanes to clear before attempting a left hand turn!

As was done in Alexandria, all the plumbing underneath the street was replaced once the tar was removed. That meant new water and sanitary hookups for all the businesses along the street as well. And that was time consuming.

The amenity zone between the sidewalk and bike lane will contain a variety of things from seating and bike racks to trees, shrubs and planters with flowers. It should look pretty nice in the spring, summer and early fall.

As a walker, I already appreciate the new sidewalks that now go all the way down to Lake Minnewaska from downtown, which is only about four blocks. There were sidewalks there before, it was just that some were through parking lots so the pedestrians competed with cars. Now auto accesses to businesses are more defined and sidewalks seem much safer.

One other feature of the change is the elimination of the stop sign for eastbound traffic on Highway 28-29 at Minnesota Avenue. Now the eastbound traffic keeps flowing up to the stoplight and eastbound Minnesota Avenue traffic stops.

Oh, and that stoplight? It's still the only one in Pope County.

Next year, Highway 28-29 from Glenwood to Starbuck will be redone and the year after that Starbuck will get it's complete streets project. And sometime in the future an overpass over the railroad track on Highway 29, which was funded in the 2018 bonding bill passed by the Legislature, will become a reality.

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John Stone is the former mayor of Glenwood and former publisher of the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.