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Broadway corridor study takes virtual public input

Navigating Broadway

Jill Schramm/MDN Traveling Broadway, vehicles move north and south through Minot, past a university, numerous businesses and across a river.

If you live in Minot, no doubt you’ve travelled it. If you’ve ever visited Minot, you’ve likely taken a trip down some portion of it.

Broadway is Minot’s main thoroughfare. It’s been called the backbone of Minot’s transportation network.

An engineering study is showing the six-mile corridor from one end of the city to the other could use some work, though, whether it’s roadway improvements or better signaling. A study committee is hoping Minot residents and nonresidents who drive Broadway will offer suggestions or highlight what they see as problems to help guide engineers in designing improvements for the corridor.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the usual public input meeting has been replaced with a virtual meeting, enabling participants to browse the information, take a survey and provide comments from their computers or devices on their own schedules.

“We want to study Broadway from city limit line to city limit line,” Minot City Engineer Lance Meyer explained at an Oct. 19 city council meeting. “What we’re really looking for is input from the public on what their concerns are, where they see issues, because it helps us as engineers and planners design a better corridor. We all know that there’s parts of Broadway where our options are very limited because of buildings and right of way.

Jill Schramm/MDN The Hal Davies interchange, where Broadway (U.S. Highway 83) meets U.S. Highway 2, is an area where engineers foresee increased crash statistics in the future because of lots of access points in a short area, increasing volumes and delays that frustrate motorists.

“But we still need to understand what some of those concerns are so we can find other mitigation strategies to help with congestion or safety issues,” he said. “The primary goal of this study, or one of them, is to study the segment from 20th Avenue all the way south because that is the next phase of Broadway that is due for reconstruction. There’s several issues along that section of the corridor that need to be addressed and we need to come up with what those improvements need to be, how do we fund them and how do we program them with the Department of Transportation to have those improvements built at some point.”

To date, KLJ Engineering has worked with the city and North Dakota Department of Transportation to review existing traffic conditions and make projections for the future.

Broadway largely has been well maintained, but the study found some areas of poor pavement conditions, especially around the U.S. 2 interchange. There also are narrow rights of way and right-of-way encroachments that could limit potential improvements.

Some issues identified in the study include delays for side street traffic trying to access Broadway at uncontrolled intersections; motorist frustration with too many signaled intersections in some areas; narrow sidewalks, including some in poor condition or with obstructions; lack of dedicated bicycle paths; and infrequent transit service.

The study report found nearly 1,200 vehicle crashes in the past five years in the corridor. Additionally, Broadway sees two pedestrian and one bike crash every year on average. There was a pedestrian fatality this year.

Multiple segments and intersections have crash rates higher than what is considered critical, defined as the typical crash rate for similar intersections. For instance, the 33rd Avenue South intersection has a crash rate three times higher than the critical rate. The stretch of Broadway from Burdick to 20th Avenue South has a crash rate more than twice the critical rate, due in part to a high number of access points.

Broadway has nearly 150 access points along its six-mile corridor, and 80% of them are in the one mile between 11th and 20th Avenues South. The report states the 20th Avenue intersection ranks 39th in the state in the number of crashes. Intersections at 31st and 37th Avenues South and the U.S. 2 interchange also are expected to become deficient in the future due to traffic congestion.

In Broadway’s mid-section, seven lights in a one-mile stretch from Burdick to 11th Avenue Northwest increase travel times in that segment by 40-50%.

North of 11th Avenue Northwest, at Minot State University, crashes are above the critical rate, mostly due to speeding encouraged by the roadway design, according to the report. A particular problem spot is the intersection with the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, where motorists struggle to stop at the signal because of speed.

Once public input closes Nov. 15, engineers will begin developing proposed fixes for problem areas. A second public meeting will be held this winter to unveil those possible fixes. Based on that input, an implementation plan for improvements and a timeline will be developed and presented to the city council and public next spring.

Whether those public meetings also will be virtual is unknown at this time, but it may depend in part on the type of response the study committee sees in the current comment round.

“In my opinion, this is probably something that we’re going to see a lot of in the future, not just because of the pandemic but because of the technology tools that are available to us,” Meyer said. “It’s not always convenient for people to come to a public meeting. The traditional forms of mail, email response or a phone call to the people on the study committee is still welcomed. It’s still an option. It carries the exact same amount of weight as someone that submits a comment here online. But we think that this is a good format for people to use to submit that comment.”

Public invited to share comments about Broadway

The website to provide comment regarding a Broadway study is movingbroadway.com.

The comment period closes on Nov. 15. The survey is open to all who drive Broadway, regardless of the community in which they live.

The website includes a series of four short videos. One video provides an overview and instructions. The other three videos provide information on study findings to date on the three different segments of Broadway.

Visitors to the website can click on an issues map that enables them to drag icon pins to Broadway locations on the map and type their observations about that location into the comment box. People can use the pins and comment boxes for as many locations as they wish. People also can attach photos.

Identification and contact information are requested but are optional, with the exception of email addresses.

“There is a place to input a postal code, but that is optional. There is some value to knowing where users are coming from, but the most important feedback is their comments,” City Engineer Lance Meyer said.

The website contains documents that visitors can open to learn more about key milestones in the corridor study schedule, existing conditions and future conditions.

The website includes a survey that asks about people’s use of Broadway. Participants will be asked to rank issues such as vehicle efficiency, safety or livability. The different categories are defined in the survey.

Anyone preferring to submit comments by phone, email or letter can contact Bethany Brandt-Sargent, public engagement coordinator, at 232-5353 or bethany.brandt-sargent@kljeng.com or 728 East Beaton Drive, West Fargo, ND 587078.

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