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Crookston considering reducing traffic lanes to revamp downtown

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CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ)--Better for businesses or creating more clutter on busy roads?

The city of Crookston is considering a new project to revamp their downtown, but as WDAZ"s Scott Cook explained, it could come at the cost of drivers sanity.  

If you are driving through downtown Crookston, you'll notice that Main Street and Broadway Street  have 3 lanes of traffic.  But both of those roads could soon be reduced down to 2 lanes.

It's part of a strategic plan the city of Crookston and the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation is considering in hopes that it will bring more foot traffic to downtown businesses.

"It’s something unique and different and I think that's always good,” said Wonderful Life Foods owner, Shawn Rezac.

Shawn Rezac owns Wonderful Life Foods off of Main Street in Crookston and he is on board with the ideas in the strategic plan.

"People who're just traveling through Crookston--gets em to slow down, take a look around, see what Crookston has to offer, and really get to see that Crookston has more to offer than a lot of people sometimes expect,” said Rezac.

The plan isn't set in stone yet. But the city and MNDOT are exploring options to revitalize downtown. By reducing lanes, the city would hope to expand sidewalks, add more parking, and add a bike lane, making downtown pedestrian friendly.

"A lot of people travel highway 2 and come through Crookston every single day, and our goal is get them stopping,and checking things out, and spending time in the downtown, and other parts of Crookston, so this will be just one of those strategies to capture all this great traffic that we naturally have. It's a tremendous asset, we want to capitalize on it,” said Crookston City Administrator, Shannon Stassen.

One idea that IS set in stone, is the addition of portable patios called 'parklets,' which will be added in May.

"These parklets would be placed throughout different areas downtown, at special events, if a business has a food sale, or something going on, they would be able to sit outside the place of business and enjoy the outside instead of inside,” said Crookston City Council, Clayton Briggs.

Since what the project will entail is not known - it's unclear how much it will cost. However grants from MNDOT and money allocated to the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership would pay for all of the projects, but it may be a few years before we see anything done.

But for downtown business owners, the ideas are exciting enough.

"People draw people, and having something like that, people seeing other customers enjoying coffee or eating lunch, you know that draws people in, and could be a good opportunity for businesses alike,” said Rezac.