Isanti Council hears update on Heritage Ave traffic control

As a follow-up to the Isanti City Council’s October discussions regarding different options for traffic control on Heritage Avenue in the area of Kwik Trip, the council heard an update regarding discussions about the possibility of purchasing land from Minnco to create a four-way intersection at Dual Boulevard. Previously, the council had agreed via a split vote to proceed with a double mini-roundabout intersection option.

City Administrator Josi Wood explained to the council that in discussions with the county, it was suggested the city reach out to Minnco regarding purchasing right-of-way to construct a four-way intersection at Heritage Avenue and Dual Boulevard. 

The city did reach out to the business, and it is willing to sell the right-of-way to construct a cross-street at $8/square-foot, she said. 

She reached out to Minnco in December asking whether it expected the city to purchase the whole parcel or just the right-of-way, but has not heard back yet. The cost for just the right-of-way would be approximately $160,000, not including curb, gutter, storm, and other site work, she explained. 

“Do you want me to explore this further as being an option?” she asked the council. “We don’t have anything set aside for this. We have not been told by the county what portion of the project would be ours versus theirs, if we are going to share a third like we did with the study cost, but this would come basically out of general fund money.”

Council Member Steve Lundeen stated it was a lot of money. However, Mayor Jeff Johnson liked the idea due to it allowing for a four-way stop with signals rather than the previously discussed roundabout. 

Council Member Jimmy Gordon said he preferred a roundabout. “You never stop with a roundabout, it’s always a right-hand turn out of there. I don’t want to spend the money on it,” he said. 

“I definitely don’t want to spend money on a roundabout, because you just said it, it’s not going to stop anything. And that’s these businesses on the side, yours included, would be hard to get out of there on a roundabout,” Johnson said, noting numerous businesses have reached out to him regarding the potential traffic changes.  

“To me, getting out there is going to be easier with a roundabout than a stoplight,” Gordon said. “Think about how far back those semis or those other vehicles just trying to get out of Kwik Trip alone are going to have to sit at that stoplight.” 

Cook explained that a four-way intersection with a stoplight and the double roundabout gave similar solutions, traffic-wise. He also talked a bit about the cost and how it would be shared with the county. 

The council agreed that Wood should continue to explore the option. 

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

•Adopted an ordinance amendment regarding the operation of snowmobiles, allowing for snowmobiles to operate within city limits as long as it is going to or from a trail. The ordinance passed 3-1, with Johnson voting against the amendment. Johnson disagreed with the curfew for hours of operation being removed from the ordinance.

•Named the Isanti-Chisago County Star as the city’s official newspaper. According to Wood, staff recommended continuing with the Star considering the County NewsReview’s circulation size appears to have decreased below the mandatory minimum for official newspaper designation. 

•Approved waiving the fees for liquor and pawn shop license renewals for 2021. Wood said there are seven businesses this would help considering the government-mandated closures during the pandemic. 

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