As the county prepares to move forward with its justice center project, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners is asking the Minnesota Department of Transportation for additional funding to help traffic flow in the area.

The board approved a Transportation Economic Development (TED) grant from MnDOT at its Aug. 23 meeting to help pay for the reconstruction of the intersection of Minnesota Highway 210 and County Road 61 in Carlton.

The county plans to install a reduced conflict intersection (RCI) at the site that will help keep traffic moving when the new 100-bed justice center opens in late 2023 or early 2024. 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.

Delays caused by RCIs are generally less than a delay caused by a traffic signal, according to the MnDOT website. MnDOT awarded a TED grant to the city of Cloquet to construct an RCI at the intersection of Minnesota Highway 33 and Gillette Road.

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The reconstruction of the intersection is estimated to cost approximately $500,000, with the county contributing $120,000 of the cost. During its meeting Monday, Sept. 14, the county board approved a letter to MnDOT stating it would also be responsible for any costs that go over the $500,000 estimate, according to Carlton County Highway Engineer JinYeene Neumann.

Neumann said the county should learn if the TED grant was awarded in November or December with construction slated to begin in 2023.

Permit for new campground granted

At its Sept. 14 meeting, the county board also approved a conditional use permit for Tom Enger of Cloquet to build a campground on Big Lake in Perch Lake Township.

The campground will have 17 sites for recreational vehicles, with all but one expected to be used seasonally by campers, according to zoning and environmental services administrator Heather Cunningham.

Cunningham said 18 people testified at the Sept. 1 Carlton County Planning Commission meeting and the meeting was helpful

“I had recommended 10 conditions and the planning commission added an additional nine conditions,” Cunningham said. “They really put a lot of thought into the testimony that was provided by the people that live on Big Lake and developed a lot of thoughtful and versatile conditions. They did a good job."