Dec 2, 2023
Jill Schramm/MDN Omar Knight, left, looks over displays of plans for the 16th Street Southwest corridor with Levi Heller, assistant project manager with Apex Engineering Group, at a public meeting at Perkett School Thursday.
A proposed project to reconstruct a portion of 16th Street Southwest in 2025 has sparked both interest and concern from residential neighbors whose daily travels will be impacted.
About 70 people attended an informational meeting Thursday to learn about the project and provide comments. The planned roadway improvements would occur on 16th Street between Second and 14th Avenues Southwest, with some additional work at the Burdick Expressway intersection, at a cost estimated at $20.4 million to $25.4 million.
Residents also heard about a potential roundabout at Seventh Avenue and 16th Street to create improved access should left turns be prohibited at Fifth Avenue. The project design hasn’t been finalized, and comments from the public that can help shape that plan are being accepted until Dec. 15 by Apex Engineering Group.
“Primarily, there’s some asphalt pavement out there that has reached its age, its design life. It needs to be replaced,” said Matt Kinsella, project manager with Apex. “We’re going to be reconstructing the asphalt pavement and putting in new concrete pavement in all of those areas. In addition, we’re going to rebuild the Burdick Expressway intersection a few hundred feet each direction with new concrete.”
Asphalt replacement would occur from 14th Avenue to Burdick and between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, with spot repairs on other areas of the stretch from Burdick to Second.
Jill Schramm/MDN Matt Kinsella, left, discusses 16th Street Southwest changes outlined on a map with Mike and Diane Enslin, who live in the impacted area, at Thursday’s public meeting at Perkett School.
He said engineers are looking at a design that would add left turn lanes and bicycle lanes, along with pedestrian and accessibility improvements. Other improvements include storm sewer upgrades, a regional retention pond, sanitary sewer and watermain replacement, updated traffic signals with protected left turns and new lighting.
Brent Muscha, traffic engineer with Apex, reported 94 crashes were recorded in the project area in the past five years, or about 19 a year. Converting the four-lane roadway to three lanes with a center turn lane from Burdick to Seventh Avenue, which is largely residential, makes sense for safety reasons, he said. From Burdick to 14th Avenue, the roadway would have five lanes.
“You’ve got twice as many conflict points on the four lane as you do with a three-lane roadway. So one benefit of having a three-lane roadway versus a four-lane roadway, it directly reduces the number of crashes that happen, and that’s been studied by the Federal Highway Administration numerous times,” Muscha said.
He noted traffic already is largely using the one inside lane, particularly around Fifth and Seventh Avenues. Residents responded that phenomena can be attributed to funneling created by this past summer’s project that took the four lanes from Fourth Avenue Northwest to Second Avenue Southwest down to two lanes with a center turn lane. They said the change has created congestion during heavy traffic times that makes getting onto 16th Street difficult.
Residents raised concern about dangerous intersections for bicyclists using proposed bike lanes. They also questioned the timing of the traffic study in May. Trinity hospital had just opened and Minot State University had finished its spring semester. They added Perkett increased its enrollment by about 100 students this fall, and the opening of Minot North High School next year could add more traffic.
Muscha said the roadways are being designed for a projected 14,000 to 16,000 vehicles a day by 2045, which is the 50-year life of the project.
Where traffic delay could occur is on avenues accessing 16th Street, Muscha said. Eliminating left turns at Fifth Avenue would solve the biggest problem, but it also could shift the problem to Seventh Avenue, he said.
“The roundabout option does provide an easier way for traffic to get onto 16th and make that left turn at Seventh, and it really doesn’t affect through-traffic on 16th,” he said.
During construction, the 16th Street project area would be closed in phases and Burdick would have one lane in each direction. Levi Heller, assistant project manager with Apex, said temporary access roads may be possible. Residents with direct access to 16th Street would need to temporarily park on side streets.
Residents voiced concern about the distance of detours and the congestion that could occur past the bark park as people attempt to get onto the Highway 83 Bypass at an intersection that already offers difficult access. Residents asked for changes to that intersection to create a more useful, safer detour option during construction.
One resident pointed out the area’s history of a train derailment and flood in urging planners to consider the impact of reduced emergency access on people who have experienced trauma.
The project is likely to require right of way or easements from several properties, and those will be finalized with landowners in 2024.
Funding for the project is expected to come from federal highway dollars, state Hub City oil and gas funds and the city’s water and sewer fund reserves. No special assessments are planned.
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