Issues

Highway U.S. 61 through White Bear Lake has four-lanes and no shoulder today. Removal of the shoulder took place years ago.

The posted speed limit is 40 MPH. Car count is at 30,000/day. Over the course of the 1.4 miles of U.S. 61 that is our main street, there are five traffic lights. Here are their locations and the distance between the lights:

Location To location Distance
Highway 96 North 7th Street 0.3 miles
7th Street 4th Street 0.2 miles
4th Street 2nd Street 0.2 miles
2nd Street Lake Avenue 0.3 miles
Lake Avenue White Bear Avenue 0.4 miles
……total is 1.4 miles
  • Why is the speed limit over the 1.4 miles that is White Bear Lake’s Main Street, 40 MPH? With all the stop lights, it especially makes little sense and generates excessive pollution…noise and exhaust…as cars work to reclaim the posted speed limit. Starts and stops increase fuel consumption, too.
  • Adopting a 30 MPH speed limit is safer for everyone. People who are walking or on bike and hit by a car at 30 MPH have a 45% chance of dying from injuries. At 40 MPH it shoot up to 85%. It’s cleaner and quieter.

There is even precedent for making U.S. Highway 61 our Main Street. It comes from Hastings, MN. As U.S. 61 cuts through Hastings, it actually has a name…Vermillion Street, named for the nearby Vermillion River. In 2008, Hastings Economic Development Commission partnered with a planning firm to look at the present situation along U.S. 61 and make plans for this prime section of road to be economically successful. Here are some comparisons worth noting:

  • Hasting’s Vermillion Street district extends over 1.4 miles…..just like White Bear Lake.
  • U.S. 61 through Hastings has a daily car count of 30,000…..just like White Bear Lake.
  • Both communities have four-lanes with a median and a mix of businesses on both sides of U.S. 61.
  • Hasting’s speed limit is 30 MPH…..White Bear Lake’s is 40 MPH…..why?

The upcoming re-surfacing of U.S. 61 next year is a time to execute some legacy decisions in White Bear Lake:

  • A 30 MPH speed limit makes White Bear Lake safer and easier to get around. No need for a speed study. They have it in Hastings.
  • Create a plan that connects everyone who lives and works and goes to school along the 1.4 mile core of White Bear Lake.
  • Create a plan that includes facilities for safe biking and walking in parallel to U.S. 61. It’s the law.
  • Follow our own roadmap. Meet the objective stated in the White Bear Lake 2030 plan, “Establish a balanced, multimodal transportation system with emphasis on connectivity, safety and aesthetics.”
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