Elk River looks at beautifying a key intersection — Highway 169 and Main

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

If plans come to fruition, the intersection of Highway 169 and Main Street in Elk River could have a polished, new look.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to do some pedestrian enhancements at that intersection and all of the intersections along Highway 169 from Highway 10 north to 197th Avenue as part of a mill and overlay project that will begin in early July. The improvements will consist of bringing all pedestrian ramps and crossings up to current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, according to City Engineer Justin Femrite.

Corey Nasby (left) and James Angstman of OLS Restoration Inc. painted the traffic signal at School Street and Freeport Avenue in Elk River last summer. Seven more signals in Elk River will be painted this summer, including the one at Highway 169 and Main Street.

The city also has approved painting the Highway 169-Main Street traffic signal system in a black and brown color scheme like the one at Highway 169 and School Street.

City officials are working on a landscaping plan for the four corners of the 169-Main intersection as well.

Elk River City Planner Jeremy Barnhart said the result would be “really a marked change in the intersection.”

Council members discussed the proposed intersection landscaping at the Monday, May 21 council meeting. They told Barnhart he’s on the right track with the plan, but have not yet voted to proceed with any landscaping work.

Preliminary landscaping plans for the four corners of the intersection show a tiered plan with low-growing native grass or concrete near the curb and plantings such as perennials and shrubs behind that. Total cost without irrigation is estimated at about $18,000. Irrigation would cost an estimated $14,000.

A rendering of an option for the design of an Elk River entrance sign at the northeast corner 0f Highway 169 and Main Street.

In addition, a large Elk River entrance sign at the northeast corner is an option. That would cost an estimated $9,000. It could include limestone boulders and Elk River in decorative letters.

Council Member Paul Motin said he’d like to wait on the boulder sign but Mayor John Dietz said it’s important to have something identifying Elk River at what is likely the busiest intersection in the city. No final decision was made.