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The primary function of Highway 8 is to provide safe and efficient mobility at higher speeds with managed access to the local roadway system. It provides access to several neighborhoods and residences and is a primary route to many schools, churches and businesses. Highway 8 also serves many commuters in the region during the week and recreational traffic during summer months.
Chisago County has identified several safety/operational concerns at major intersections, side streets, and at private access points. There is also a high level of traffic congestion during morning/evening commutes and during summer recreational season. Traffic is expected to increase over time.
Between 2011 and 2020, there have been over 1,100 crashes reported along Highway 8, with nine involving serious injury, and five involving fatalities. This project will analyze causes and locations of these crashes and develop mitigation strategies, which may include adding turn lanes, raised medians, widening shoulders, improving sight-lines, other potential ways to help deal with the existing and future capacity issues, and enhancing traffic control at major intersections. Properly managing access along the corridor will also improve traffic safety and mobility.
Access will be managed on Highway 8 by properly spacing roadway intersections, consolidating access points where practical, and potentially dividing the roadway with a median. While this may slightly alter how people get to their destinations, the completed project will enhance access by reducing congestion, and improving traffic flow along Highway 8.
Medians improve safety and operational efficiency by physically separating opposing directions or travel and can take the form of a depressed ditch, raised concrete islands, concrete barriers, or various forms. Medians have been proven to:
Part of the safety problem that exists on Highway 8 relates to the proliferation of driveway access points along the corridor. One goal of the project is to look for opportunities to consolidate driveway access points, where practical. Locations of driveways have not been determined yet, but some may get realigned to a secondary roadway. The County will be working individually with property owners regarding access needs and locations throughout the project..
Where current or forecasted traffic demands exceed the capacity of the existing roadway, additional traffic lanes will need to be considered. It should be noted that the number of access points along a roadway directly affects traffic mobility.
Pedestrian signal indicators, marked crosswalks, and ADA compliant curb ramps will be provided at signalized intersections along the corridor. The County is planning to construct a portion of the Swedish Immigrant Trail along with this project, which will ultimately connect to other regional trails.
The County will analyze each major intersection to determine the optimum form of traffic control, which may include roundabouts.
Reduced Conflict Intersections, also called RCIs or RCUTs, are intersections that decrease fatalities and injuries caused by broadside crashes on four-line divided highways. With an RCI, drivers from the side street only have to be concerned with one direction of traffic on the highway at a time. You don't need to wait for a gap in both directions to cross a major road. You can learn more about RCIs, at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT's) website.