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Proposed 371-Clark Lake Road median crossover closure still an issue

The Nisswa City Council agreed Wednesday, Dec. 19, to again ask to keep the Highway 371-Clark Lake Road median crossover open in the future for safety reasons.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) proposes closing the median crossover as part of Highway 371 improvements. Area residents had approached the council with concerns over emergency vehicles reaching Clark Lake Road in a timely manner if the median crossover was closed. Such vehicles would have to go farther south and then turn around to come back north to access Clark Lake Road.

MnDOT addressed those concerns by offering to add an emergency vehicle gravel access 200 feet south of the current median crossover, asking the city to construct and maintain that crossover.

“That’s not an answer,” fire chief Richard Geike told the council Dec. 19. “For anybody who drives emergency vehicles, 100 percent of the people don’t pay attention to the red lights and sirens. Now they’re asking us to make a lefthand turn from the righthand part of the highway.”

Geike added that residents likely would start using that gravel access as well.

“I prefer to see nothing,” Geike said. “They’re closing it from what they consider a safety standpoint. I would like to see it remain open for what I consider a safety standpoint. We have a lot of residents down there.”

Council members agreed it would be dangerous to have a fire truck make a U turn on the highway, and they were concerned about paying for and maintaining the gravel access.

The council agreed to tell MnDOT the gravel crossover proposal is unacceptable and to again ask that the crossover remain open.

In other business Dec. 19:

• Authorized moving a light to better illuminate the County Road 18 intersection near the cemetery.

• Heard from city council candidate Don Jacobson, who congratulated the council and mayor on their November campaigns. Jacobson didn’t win election to a council seat.

• Agreed to support Grand View Lodge in a request for a sign at the Highway 371 and County Road 77 intersection at Sportland Corners listing “Interlachen Road” so resort guests know to turn west at upper County Road 77, rather than lower County Road 77/Pine Beach Road. The resort sought city support for the sign to then approach MnDOT and Crow Wing County.

• Adopted a resolution to appoint up to six residents and two city council members to the Cemetery Committee. The committee currently includes up to three residents and one council member.

• Approved the updated emergency management plan for the city.

• Agreed to meet at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, for an annual reorganizational meeting.