Thank you to Mr. Pace (MnDOT project engineer) and the Pelican Rapids Press for the excellent information on the proposed Highway 59 and 108 project. 

This project’s stated purpose is to resurface and reconstruct these highways. 

One complaint is that traffic backs up from one intersection to the next especially on summer weekends. The newer enhanced signals allow steady traffic on the heavily traveled Hwy. 59 to continue without stopping until necessary to allow access from Hwy. 108 for vehicles or pedestrians. Traffic back ups have been reduced with these signals.

Enhanced traffic signals also protect pedestrians and provide safer crossing of major highways. When the pedestrian activates the crossing signal, the traffic flow stops and the signal shows that a pedestrian is crossing. These are excellent safety features. 

The roundabout will not protect pedestrians. It will function like a flashing amber light – some traffic will actually speed up to get through the roundabout before the pedestrian. Without the signal lights actually stopping traffic as necessary, it will be difficult to cross either highway on foot. A continuous flow of traffic will make it more difficult to use the on street parking so necessary to our businesses. 

The combined loss of parking and pedestrian safe crossings will be devastating to our community. 

I invite the planners to walk through the parking lots located on the east and west sides of the business district. They are great! They are beautiful because they border our river parks. However, they are not on the same level as the store’s main business doors. From either parking lot one must walk up hills, down hills and/or climb stairs. 

The present ideas to eliminate parking spots at the corners of two intersections will reduce convenient, level access to the cornerstone businesses. Providing a center turn lane by eliminating parking on the west side of Hwy. 59 will make it impossible for any pedestrian with mobility issues to shop in the west side businesses: no coffee and lunch at Muddy Moose, no checking out the clothing at Liz’s Style Lust shop or buying household and farm supplies at Strand Ace Hardware. It will be difficult to do your rehab exercises and therapy at Rehab Plus after injury or surgery if you can’t be dropped off in front of the building. The Law Offices, Real Estate Offices, Beauty Shop, Art Gallery, and the newly opened Antique Shop will all be left without accessible entrances to their buildings. 

The overall reduction in parking will negatively impact the east side businesses as well. Remember, the loss of 14 or 30 parking spaces is not a one time loss. Multiply the lost spaces by the number of customers who would use those spaces in a day, month, year. 

Pelican Rapids is a unique community where people can walk, drive, shop, play, bike and gather together near the scenic river. Our 2004, 2014 and current Comprehensive Plans all focus on incorporating the beauty of the parks with the friendly businesses. Please don’t build barriers to what has already been achieved.

I have attended many public meetings about the community and presentations on Hwy 59 street improvements including this project. From these meeting notes, I think many of us agree that there are ways to route the bicycles through parks and across other bridges rather than have them impact parking on this one block central corridor. I appreciate the work people have put into building more access to our amazing downtown for safe biking and walking to our parks and businesses.

Let’s continue working on enhancements not building barriers. 

Let’s keep our traffic signals and parking spaces.

Sincerely, Glenys Ehlert