Busy Hibbing intersection to get roundabout

One of the reasons the Highway 53 bridge project garners so much attention is that, for Iron Rangers, everything that happens on Highway 53 matters. It’s one of the two major highways that connects the band of communities that comprise the Range.

The other major Iron Range highway is 169. Though also listed as a north/south route, Highway 169 acts as the west-to-east passageway for this 140-mile swath of 110-year-old mining towns.

Right in the middle of the region Highway 169 barrels through Bob Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, highlighting a weird blend of commercial and industrial real estate.

Sixty years ago, city leaders sought to avoid being bypassed by the sleek new four-lane highway. They established the highway along what they though would be the “edge” of town. But then suburban style development patterns took hold and the town jumped the highway, creating a rather haphazard appearance. Most motorists wouldn’t realize they’re passing through a town that was once the richest city north of Minneapolis.

The busiest intersection on 169 in Hibbing is the one where the highway pivots 90 degrees while meeting Highway 37. Most commuters, including myself, spend time at this intersection every day.

Engineers have decided that having all that traffic parked at a light is bad. They’re putting in a roundabout in 2017.

Here’s what it looks like:

This image from the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows the roundabout design planned for the Highway 169/37 intersection in 2017.

This image from the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows the roundabout design planned for the Highway 169/37 intersection in 2017.

While some Northern Minnesota towns like Grand Rapids have embraced roundabouts in recent developments, it’s rare in Mesabi Iron Range towns. Thousands of Rangers will use a roundabout for the first time when this thing goes live.

This idea isn’t new. A roundabout was proposed for this intersection in the late 1990s. Back then, the idea was deemed unworkable because of the volume of traffic.

There will be a public meeting to discuss the new roundabout this Thursday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hibbing City Council chambers at City Hall, 401 East 21st Street.

What do you think of putting a roundabout at Highway 169 and Highway 37 in Hibbing?

Comments

  1. David Gray says:

    I have to say I love roundabouts and I’m glad that MNDOT is tending to promote them.

  2. Toni Wilcox says:

    Round abouts rock. Far fewer rear end collisions.

  3. Jeremy Erspamer says:

    This is an awful idea !! First this is not Europe . Second this is mining country . The troubles this would cause for our heavy haul and extreme haul trucking it is unbelievable that Mndot would even think of such a thing. As a truck driver round about are just a huge pain even worse for my lowboy.

  4. I use this intersection everyday and it is never, ever busy. I feel putting in a roundabout is a waste of money. This intersection is great how it is.

  5. LifeLongIronRanger says:

    This is One of the Stupidest Ideas I have ever heard of and I agree with Mr. Erspamer. Take your European Twin Citydiot Ideas and Shove them were the Sun Don’t Shine! You people never know how to stop raising taxes and wasting money on things that shouldn’t even be talked about!

    • David Gray says:

      Sorry but I’m a fifth generation Ranger who got exposed to roundabout during 20 years of military service and finds them safer and more efficient than the alternatives.

  6. Steve Giorgi says:

    Ask the people in Grand Rapids what they think about their round abouts….I,bet they are happy to have them over the 4 way stops they replaced. I wish they would have put one on the new 102 route in Mt. Iron rather than the albatross they constructed.

  7. Bravo JE and LLLRanger! Brilliant get off my lawn satire! Oh wait…..

  8. Nirene Daniels says:

    Just like most things going today…….take the simple & make it more complex!!

  9. I love the idea! You can’t always please everyone, but in this case I think once people use it regularly they’ll love it. Such a simplistic idea and what a time saver. I wish we could get more than 1.

  10. With so many seniors in the area this is a BAD idea. No one in Minnesota knows how to use roundabouts anyway

  11. For years I was against roundabouts and thought they were the worst traffic thing on the planet and said so, often. Later I moved way down by Lakeville and they had and intersection that most of the time was clear but during rush hour it would have 15 cars backed up on every corner for about an hour or so and would take a car 4-10 minutes to get through. They put in a roundabout in and I screamed and hollered! Then after it opened and I was forced to use it one day, I found out that whole congestion thing was gone and it has never came back.

    • I would agree on the roundabout. They put one in near our home and I complained about it during the entire construction process. Now that I’ve seen it in action it’s much more efficient and safer. People used to get killed regularly at the intersection and now it’s the occasional fender bender. The truckers still complain because they have to slow down.

    • Joe Musich says:

      Yep ! Stop lights and stop signs do nothing but freeze motion which has lots of expenses. Probably tough for tandem trucks. However they are a bad idea in so many ways anyway. And don’t get me started on gigantic muti level beer and soft beverage trucks !

  12. Round-a-bouts are a great idea… just not for THIS intersection. They should be used at 4 way stops with the intent to continue traffic. Semi Trucks moving from Hwy 169 trying to get the Hwy 73 (north of Chisholm) will have a hard time maneuvering and will back up traffic . Good luck on this… plus with the aging population in that area, they will be confused. Most people don’t know how to drive when they get to a 4 way stop. And make sure that ALL DRIVERS NEED TO USE THEIR BLINKERS WHEN THEY ARE EXITING THE CIRCLE, so we don’t sit there and wait and wait and wait.

    • I disagree with you whole heartedly on this not being the right intersection for it. I think it is the perfect intersection as both a frequent user of this intersection and civil engineer. There should be no reason for trucks to have any issues maneuvering unless they are a bad driver. Secondly, the traffic patterns at this intersection make this ideal for continuous moving traffic instead of the stopping and backing up at red lights during busy times and watching one car sit and wait for the light to turn at non-busy times.

      Does it take some adjustment for people who have never used them? Yes. But in the end, I think this will be a significant improvement for this intersection.

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