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Changes coming to Highway 65, and an intersection change onto Highway 169

ITASCA COUNTY, MN — The same intersection where two Iron Range teenagers were killed in a weekend crash, is set for an overhaul by the state.

We learned Tuesday that the Minnesota Department of Transportation is preparing to make critical improvements to where Highway 65 meets Highway 169 in Itasca County..

MnDOT says it’s time for much needed changes following a number of crashes at *that intersection over the years, and Saturday’s the latest among them.

On Monday, a makeshift memorial and car parts marked the location of Saturday’s fatal crash.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, the crash happened when a Honda Accord traveling north on Highway 169 attempted a left hand turn onto Highway 65.

As it was making the turn, authorities say the car was hit by a Chevy Cobra Camper traveling south.

While the exact cause remains under investigation, MnDOT says when you make a left turn onto highway 65 drivers don’t have a straight view of oncoming traffic, and they want to change that.

MnDOT says the project will make the current intersection more perpendicular so its easier to see that traffic.

In addition, left hand turns will no longer be allowed onto Highway 169, to avoid crossing several lanes.

Instead you’ll have to turn right and then make a u-turn further down the road.

MnDOT says the changes to the intersection will cost about $400,00 thousand dollars.

The state agency says it plans to hire a contractor in March with work getting underway in late May or early June of 2020.

In addition to the construction, speed limits are going to be increased on highway 65.

Beginning Tuesday, the speed limit will increase from 55 mph to 60 mph in some sections of the highway once signs are put into place.

All other speed limits which aren’t marked as 55 mph will stay the same.

The speed limit will remain at 55 mph at two locations:

-North of Nashwauk to County Road 8 in Itasca County
-East junction of Highway 1 to County Road 31 in Koochiching County

The reason for the speed increase was based on a traffic and engineering study, which included the following:

-Crash rates
-The physical attributes of the highway, like shoulder widths and access points)
-Current driving speeds in the area

The Minnesota Legislature asked MnDOT in 2014 to evaluate its two-lane, two-way 55 mph highways to determine if speed limits could be reasonably and safely increased.

Kaitlyn Moffett

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