Residents call for slower speed limit at Big Lake corridor

On the north side of Big Lake, Minnesota, there are some who see a big issue in the corridor of County Road 5 and a speed limit of 50 mph.

So, residents are asking MnDOT to lower the speed limit to 30 mph.

“It’s lots of traffic, fast traffic,” said Nancy Westerberg.

The message along County Road 5 - also known as Eagle Lake Road – is clear: Slow down.

Big Lake City Administrator Clay Wilfahrt said pedestrian safety is their main goal.

Back in June, the city finished paving what had always been a de-facto bike trail through town. Since then, it's significantly driven up foot and two-wheeled traffic.

The goal was to have all cyclists and pedestrians cross busy County Road 5 at a crosswalk where flashing caution lights were installed to maximize safety.

Residents say that while the lights are generally effective, they don't like the fact that the speed limit remains 50 mph and then slows to just 30 mph a quarter-mile away as you get closer to town.

“My concern is slow it down for a quarter-mile…that's really all they need to slow it down,” Westerberg said. “Hopefully they can do it before somebody gets hurt."

Though the corridor sits within city limits, Big Lake officials say their hands are tied; they can't just lower the speed limit without MnDOT.

So for now, they're trying to calm traffic with giant road-side signs and barrels to close off the bypass lane at the bend.

Unfortunately, MnDOT said that while its staff is working with key stakeholders on a solution, the speed limit that was reduced two years ago - from 55-to-50 on the north end of town - isn't likely to drop further.

On Tuesday, the city took to its Facebook page, asking residents to speak out and put some pressure on MnDOT to reconsider.