The Two Harbors City Council approved a preliminary application for funds for a project that could ease traffic concerns and add clearer business access off Highway 61 on the city's west side.
The engineering firm SEH presented its idea for changes at Recycle Center Drive Monday and was allowed to go ahead and apply for state grants toward what would be a $1.7 million project. The deadline for a "pre-application" is today and the city council approved it on the condition that it wouldn't be locked into the idea.
Businesses off Recycle Center Drive, the roadway east of the stoplights at County Road 26, have complained that getting off and on to the busy Highway 61 is difficult without a traffic light. The fix would be to make a true four-street intersection where the stoplight is now, a south extension of County Road 26. Currently, the turn south at the light takes one into the Sonju's auto lot.
The plan would take out the two homes between Sonju's and McDonald's as a regular street would run south to Northshore Manufacturing and other businesses. There would also be a road going west behind McDonald's for access to the eatery and hotel there.
The proposal would look inviting to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, SEH said, because many uncontrolled access points on 61 could be closed, such as Recycle Center Drive and the current entrance and exit to the McDonald's. It's been deemed that there isn't enough room between the highway and the businesses to create a frontage road next to 61.
Because of the short window for the preliminary application for funds, SEH and the city weren't able to talk with business owners in the area about the proposal. That will happen early next year. A final application would be needed by June if the city decided to go ahead with the change.
SEH believes much of the cost for the change would come from a Transportation Economic Development grant and other development programs. MnDOT plans to submit a letter of support for the proposal.