J-turn coming to Highway 33 intersection

Cloquet could receive up to $665,000 to redesign an intersection of Gillette Road at Minnesota Highway 33 to improve safety and encourage development.

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The Minnesota Highway 33 corridor through Cloquet could see some big changes in the next few years after the Minnesota Department of Transportation awarded the city a Transportation Economic Development (TED) grant.

MnDOT announced Monday, Dec. 30, it awarded the city up to $665,000 to create a reduced conflict intersection (RCI) where Gillette Road and Highway 33 meet near Wells Fargo. In an RCI, motorists approaching a divided highway are not allowed to turn left or cross traffic. Instead, they will be required to make a “J-turn.” J-turns require drivers to turn right and then make a U-turn at a designated median opening.

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Delays caused by RCIs are generally less than a delay caused by a traffic signal, according to the MnDOT website.


The Cloquet Community Development and Public Works departments identified the intersection as an ongoing area of concern — one that looks to see increased traffic with the opening of the new Members Cooperative Credit Union early this year and the planned opening of an Essentia Health Clinic in 2020.

Cloquet Community Development Director Holly Hansen and Public Works Director Caleb Peterson worked together to develop a TED grant application because of the ongoing redevelopment in the area.

"We see that as a corridor that will continue flipping," Hansen said. "It's a good opportunity for the city with all the redevelopment that's happening. It sets the corridor up for more safety and redevelopment opportunities in the future."

TED grants specifically target transportation improvements that will lead to measurable economic benefits like job creation or retention. MCCU and Essentia both provided letters of support in the Cloquet application.

The TED grant would fund 70% of the estimated $950,000 project. The city will cover the remaining $285,000 with local option sales tax money. Peterson said the MnDOT District One office has also committed to designing the project.

The MnDOT grant requires the construction project to be completed before the end of 2022.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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