At a crowded Jenkins City Council meeting, residents on Half Mile Road urged the council to take action to address the condition and safety of the dirt road where they reside.

Speakers at the Monday, July 12, regular meeting included Don Lundrigan, Roman Siltman, Nathaniel Hanson appearing by webcam and several others. All said they have noticed several issues with Half Mile Road, including speeding vehicles, excessive dust, excessive commercial vehicle travel and washboard textures, among others.

Before reaching the public comment section of the agenda, the council had already discussed some options for dealing with speed and traffic issues on Half Mile Road and the area around the intersection of 12th Avenue Southwest and Cemetery Road. The council discussed traffic control options at both locations, though much of the discussion focused on an option for a three-way stop sign on Cemetery Road.

Half Mile Road (highlighted in yellow). Crow Wing County GIS mapping.
Half Mile Road (highlighted in yellow). Crow Wing County GIS mapping.

So far the council has previously discussed speed limit signs that appear to have limited effect and speed bumps that would interfere with snowplowing. A resident recommended installing a sign restricting large truck traffic as a means to reduce traffic as well as protect the road condition.

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Sgt. Ryan Franz, with the Pequot Lakes Police Department, said the council should be careful to only control traffic with stop signs, as installing them as a speed control is not allowed.

The council ultimately decided to seek advice from the city engineer. Residents later had their opportunity to weigh in on Half Mile Road.

"FedEx comes through there, UPS comes through there," said Lundrigan. "It is a shortcut; it's not an unknown shortcut. It seems to be getting busier and busier. I don't know if there's a solution as far as maintaining the road and bringing it up to a condition where it doesn't degrade so fast. The solution isn't getting it patrolled or graded once a month."

Lundrigan said he realized the cost of resurfacing or paving Half Mile Road would be a difficult burden for some homeowners on that road.

Hanson, who attended the meeting virtually, said he watched more than six cars speed past his house during the span of the meeting and used his camera to show one vehicle driving past at what appeared to be a high speed.

"We're just trying to make everything safe," Hanson said. "We have a lot of kiddos around here."

"The road has not been maintained very well," Siltman said. "Without rain it's hard to do a lot with it. Pequot PD has been out there more; however, the biggest problem I've noticed is big trucks going by."

Siltman said large semi trucks hauling excavators, delivery vehicles and other large trucks frequent the road as a shortcut and drive at excessive speeds. He said they can be heard during the night braking quickly.

Franz confirmed that the road, being residential, is only a 30 mile-per-hour road. He said the police department could place an electronic sign to gather data, including how many people use the road, how common speeding is and during what times of day speeding and traffic are at their worst so additional patrols could be made.

In the meantime, Franz recommended residents call the police department to report violators' license plates and the time when they believe infractions are most common. It may also be possible to report infringements to the companies represented by the commercial vehicles.

Another resident requested a possible "slow, children at play" sign for the road.

Mayor Jon Lubke made sure that City Clerk Krista Okerman made note of ideas and suggestions and thanked the residents for sharing their concerns with the council.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.