CSAH 9 Corridor Study

Otter Tail County, Minnesota

CSAH 9 is a major collector that serves local traffic traveling around Pelican Lake and regional traffic moving between Otter Tail and Becker Counties.  Interest in a new “bypass” alignment to serve through trips has increased as the area surrounding the lake continues to develop. Development had created traffic safety problems (e.g., speeding, crashes and unsafe pedestrian crossings), which were aggravated by close access spacing, limited roadway width, lake houses built near the roadway edge, environmental features, significant weekend and recreational traffic, and geometric design issues along the corridor.

SRF worked with Otter Tail County to identify transportation issues affecting the existing corridor, analyze and evaluate corridor improvement options, select short- and long- range preferred alternatives, construct safety improvements, and, if a new alignment was needed, undertake corridor preservation measures.

After collecting and analyzing traffic data and environmental information to identify roadway issues and assess corridor needs, SRF prepared a speed study, origin-destination study, and diversion curve analysis, and developed alternative alignment screening criteria. By providing thorough technical information, SRF helped opposing interest groups understand the implications of alternatives that had been considered in the past and find solutions.

A Study Review Committee (SRC) consisting of members from the County Highway Department, the Township, the Lake Association, the County Commission, and a representative of rural landowners was established to guide the study. SRC input was supplemented through open house meetings. The stakeholder involvement process provided crucial information that was used to refine the corridor’s needs, clearly define stakeholder expectations, and identify potential solutions.  It also provided a communication mechanism to present technical data and alternative concepts to key lake and rural stakeholders for feedback and buy-in.

Through extensive technical analysis and stakeholder dialogue, a consensus was reached that traffic calming would provide immediate benefits. As CSAH 9 is a State Aid Highway, coordination with MnDOT was critical to identifying acceptable traffic calming measures (e.g., improving safety for vehicles and pedestrians and lowering traffic speeds along the CSAH 9).  In addition, SRF identified and evaluated new long-term alignment options so the County could undertake corridor preservation activities.

Because of the abundance of lakeshore communities along County State Aid Highways in Otter Tail County, a traffic calming policy was developed for use in similar situations.

CLIENT: Otter Tail County