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Published February 03, 2014, 10:54 AM

Minn. town wants less beet truck traffic in residential area

By: Ryan Bakken , Forum News Service

East Grand Forks, Minn., city leaders have a plan that would lessen sugar beet truck traffic in the residential area near the American Crystal Sugar Co. factory.

It won’t happen soon, however.

Paved access from the north

Using $560,000 of federal money that likely won’t be available until 2018, the idea is to pave three blocks of 10th Street Northeast, an east-west road that runs north of the factory.

That would allow heavy trucks to enter the American Crystal Sugar grounds from the north, not just from the south off U.S. Business Highway 2, which is the case now.

The new access would lessen traffic on Fifth Avenue Northeast, which runs adjacent to Stauss Park and a residential neighborhood and connects with Business Highway 2.

Grower-owned trucks would continue to enter the plant from Business Highway 2 because the scales are located there.

The north entrance would handle the bigger Transystems trucks, meaning they wouldn’t travel past the residential area or add to the congestion on Business Highway 2.

‘It makes sense’

“There’s a Transystems truck coming every 4 to 5 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 265 to 280 days a year,” says Lloyd Kennedy, plant manager for the East Grand Forks factory. “So, yes, taking them out of the equation does have a significant impact on the volume of trucks coming down Fifth Avenue to the south side of the factory.

“It makes sense.”

The current setup also results in truck traffic backed up on Business Highway 2, causing congestion.

Shouldering the cost

“It’s the most logical road to improve with our 2018 federal dollars, which have to be used on our federal aid road system” says Greg Boppre, the city’s consulting engineer.

He says some state aid dollars likely will be needed to complete the project.

The cost of adding a paved north-south road off 10th Street Northeast leading to the factory would be shouldered by American Crystal, Boppre says.

The idea comes up for a City Council vote at its next meeting on Feb. 4.

No council members have expressed disapproval during their work sessions.

“It’s win-win for the city and American Crystal and its growers,” City Council member Henry Tweten says.