Hwy 71 Bemidji construction: Beltrami County fairgoers use alternate route
BEMIDJI, Minn. – The MnDOT construction project on Highway 71 between Highway 197 and Winter Sumac Road in Bemidji continues on schedule in Stage 2. Motorists are now traveling in head-to-head traffic in the southbound lanes. Crews have begun construction of the northbound lanes between Winter Sumac Rd. and Anne Street.
MnDOT has created an alternate route for Beltrami County fairgoers, which begins, August 10 and lasts through August 14. Northbound traffic on Highway 71 will utilize Lakewood Drive to the east to Irvine Avenue and Fairgrounds Road. Southbound traffic will utilize the southbound Irvine Avenue ramps to Irvine Avenue and Fairgrounds Road. Lakewood Drive traffic will only utilize right-in and right-out movements on both east and west entrances to Highway 71. Motorists should follow signed routes.
Highway 71 will remain open to thru traffic throughout construction. Motorists can expect lane closures, delays and intersection detours along the various construction stages.
“We have been working closely with the Beltrami County Fair Board to help ensure the safety of motorists traveling to and from the fair,” says TJ Melcher, MnDOT Public Engagement. “Removing the left-turn options at the Lakewood Drive intersection avoids the potential of T-bone or rear-end crashes. It will also help traffic travel more efficiently through the construction zone. MnDOT prioritizes safety in all of our construction projects.”
Stage 2, Phase 2 traffic impacts
- Anne St: Closed at Highway 71, detour onto Fern St.
- Hwy 71:
- Northbound lanes closed.
- Traffic shifts to head-to-head traffic on southbound lanes.
- Highway 71 northbound traffic will not be able to access the Irvine Avenue off ramp. Detour routes include Glidden Rd. and Lakewood Dr., dependent on construction at those intersections. Signs will be posted directing traffic.
- Expect delays.
- Winter Sumac Rd: Shoulder work at Winter Sumac Rd., expect delays.
Motorists are encouraged to find an alternate route when possible during construction. Speed limits are reduced throughout the entire project, follow posted speed limit signs.
- View staging maps, detour maps, and current traffic impacts on the project website at mndot.gov/d2/projects/hwy71-bemidji.
- Join the project staff at the weekly construction update meeting in person or virtually. The meetings will be held at the MnDOT building, 3920 Highway 2 West. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 10, and the schedule may vary, so visit the project website for the upcoming schedule and virtual link
- Sign up for weekly project email updates on the project website
Project benefits and cost
Benefits of the project include a safer road, smoother and longer lasting driving surface, as well as intersection and pedestrian improvements to enhance safety for all users. Studies show an 86 percent decrease in fatal crashes at roundabouts, and a 70 percent reduction in fatalities where J-turns are used. To learn more about roundabouts or how a J-turn works, and review their safety benefits, visit MnDOT’s Roundabouts web page or MnDOT’s Reduced Conflict Intersections web page.
Knife River is the contractor for the $16.6 million project. Construction is scheduled to be completed in October. Start and end dates could change due to weather and other unforeseeable circumstances.
Work zone reminder
- Slow down when approaching every work zone
- Never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones
- Stay alert; watch for workers and slow-moving equipment
- Obey posted speed limits; fine for a work zone violation is $300
- Minimize distractions behind the wheel
- Be patient and expect delays, especially during peak travel times