Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 197 Corridor Vision


Designing future Highway 197 improvements

Highway 197 one page description

Highway 197 Corridor Study Information Sheet



Notable Activities in December:

December 1 – Community Review Panel Meeting

  • After last month’s meeting the City began a study of the side streets (Hannah Ave and Middle School Dr) in order to identify alternatives and how they would be affected by improvements to their intersection with Hwy 197.
  • This month’s meeting began with the results of that study as City of Bemidji Engineer, Sam Anderson, and KLJ Engineer, Joe DeVore, presented the findings. The study found that there were three possible options that would be feasible (for the side streets, Hannah and Middle School). Two of those options paired best with roundabouts at the Hwy 197 intersections, and one that would work with traffic signals. Ultimately though, the study found that roundabouts at the Hwy 197 intersections provided more flexibility for future safety, access and congestion improvements on the Hannah and Middle School side streets.
  • The Community Review Panel conducted a poll to determine the groups preference for the Hwy 197 improvements. The results showed:
    • 16 of 21 panel members preferred Alternative 1 (Roundabouts at the Hwy 197 intersections with Middle School Dr and Hannah Ave)
    • 2 preferred Alternative 2 (Signals at those locations)
    • 3 remained neutral or preferred No Build Conditions (i.e. do nothing)

December 20 – Upcoming Bemidji City Council Meeting

  • Project team will present the findings of the corridor study and seek council support to move ahead with the project development of Alternative 1. 
  • Monday, December 20th at 6:00 p.m. Join the virtual Bemidji City Council meeting here


Highway 197 Corridor Vision Study: 2021 Survey Results

Highway 197 Alternatives with Project Description

In 2019, MnDOT conducted an in-depth corridor study which ultimately resulted in the proposal of a roundabout corridor. That preferred alternative didn’t garner enough community support and was ultimately voted against by the Bemidji City Council. This renewed effort has been an attempt to start over. Since a resurfacing project has to take place regardless, because the pavement will reach the end of its service life, MnDOT's goal is to also include multi-modal improvements that will increase the safety and vitality of the corridor for motorists, businesses, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Learn more about roundabouts in Minnesota here.

2020-21 Community Review Panel

The committee's purpose is to provide community supported corridor improvement recommendations to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the City of Bemidji. Over the course of the year, the committee will:

  • Establish priorities and develop a community vision for the corridor
  • Identify and study issues along the corridor
  • Learn traffic safety and engineering concepts
  • Develop, evaluate and recommend feasible alternatives

The City of Bemidji selected committee members who represent diverse perspectives, including business owners, motorists; residents, bicycle and pedestrians, disabled users, transit, economic development, emergency response, planning, safety, engineering and local governments.

  1. The group will provide a final recommendation to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the City of Bemidji
  2. The group will:
    • Represent the community's interests
    • Listen to all points of view and try to understand interests of others
    • Openly discuss issues with people who hold diverse views and participate in cooperative discussion to understand differences and find compromise where possible
    • Clearly articulate and represent interests of their organization and/or stakeholder group
    • Learn about, and contribute to understanding, the social and economic aspects of traffic safety, access management and engineering improvements
    • Generate and evaluate options to address issues expressed by group members
    • Facilitate dialogue between diverse interests
    • If applicable, keep represented constituent groups informed and solicit input
    • Advise on effective, feasible and publicly acceptable recommendations for corridor improvements
  3. The HRDC will support the group by:
    • Facilitating committee meetings
    • Be a liaison between the community, the City of Bemidji and MnDOT
  4. MnDOT will support the group by:
    • Providing relevant information (e.g. available data, studies, background and potential corridor alternatives)
    • Providing guidance on policy, funding and engineering
    • Addressing issues deemed significant by the group
  5. The City of Bemidji and MnDOT will be the final approval authority for adoption of the community panel's recommended improvements


  • Effective, feasible and supported recommendations for corridor improvements
  • Enhanced public agency collaboration and community partnership

  • The committee will meet monthly during the course of the year-long study.
  • The HRDC will convene each meeting, develop agendas and provide meeting summaries
  • MnDOT staff will prepare and provide technical information to inform discussion

The HRDC sought out volunteers and coordinated with the Bemidji City Council in developing the committee. The goal was to gather members who represent diverse perspectives including business owners, motorists, residents, bicycle, pedestrians, transit, economic development, emergency response, planning, safety, engineering and local government representatives.

  • Mark Dickinson (Century 21 Dickinson Realtors)
  • Arch Simonson (Simonson Station Stores)
  • Gary Gregg (Clarity Glass)
  • John Meyers (Marketplace Foods & Westridge Shopping Center)
  • Tiffany Baer Paine (Security Bank USA)
  • Jim Naylor (TrekNorth Junior & Senior High School)
  • Steve Hill (Hill's Plumbing & Heating, Inc)
  • Abby Randall (Bemidji Chamber of Commerce)
  • John Svingen (Bemidji Chamber of Commerce)
  • Jamie Thibedeaux (Resident)
  • Torry Swedberg (Resident, wheelchair user, advocate for the disabled)
  • Mur Gilman (Bike Bemidji)
  • Maggie Lowry (BSU Student)
  • Debbie Wold (Bemidji Housing & Redevelopment Authority)
  • Beryl Wernberg (Retired Emergency Dispatch, Toward Zero Deaths volunteer)
  • Dave Hengel (Greater Bemidji, Inc)
  • Jamin Carlson (Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board)
  • Mike Mastin (Bemidji Police Chief)
  • Ron Johnson (Bemidji City Council)
  • Josh Peterson (Bemidji City Council)
  • Sam Anderson (Assistant City Engineer)
  • Bill Pirkl (Minnesota Department of Transportation)