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Akeley moves to curb speeding problems through city

By Sarah Smith

Akeley’s City Council adopted a Department of Transportation plan Wednesday night designed to curb speeding in the tiny hamlet.

Fed up with people putting the pedal to the metal, the town authorized DOT to install a center turn lane and striping to keep drivers from running each other over.

Crossroads will be signed more prominently so foot traffic can safely cross Highway 34.

Akeley is nestled between Nevis and Walker and has become a safety hazard for traffic that refuses to slow down to the 30 mph speed limit through town. It sits at the intersection of two major highways, 34 and 64, and traffic doesn’t slow on either major artery, councilmembers have chronically complained.

Police Chief Jimmy Hansen can’t patrol the streets 24/7 so something had to give.

DOT District Highway Engineer Bill Pirkl wrote to the city to say the agency determined that even with restricted parking, a left turn lane off Highway 64 “was not in the best interest of safety after observing semi-tractor trailers making the turn off Highway 64.”

The plan was scrapped.

Restricted parking was installed along the highway with a council resolution in 2010.

The city will look for concrete vendors to install and ADA-compliant ramp in front of the park near City Hall, rather than at the Paul Bunyan statue further down the street. Once that’s done the crossing lane will be striped.

The charming park is the work of the Akeley Garden Club.

Across the highway the statue allows parking in front of it and Pirkl thought it might be too unsafe for a crosswalk.

“We need to act rather quickly as MNDOT contracts out the roadway striping and we only have a contract once a year,” Pirkl noted, adding that work was wrapping up for the year.

“I believe I can still get them back over to Akeley to complete the work yet this summer,” Pirkl wrote.

In other business, the council:

n Voted against the East Hubbard County Fire Department acquiring a new fire truck for $134,493 until it has exhausted efforts to find a used truck. The department wanted it as a “fast attack” truck that would arrive on fire scenes first and begin putting out the flames until the larger trucks could arrive on scene.

If ECHFD can’t find a used truck, city officials reasoned it could earn more money toward the down payment of the smaller truck in a couple years. The plan was to make a down payment of $13,493 and finance $121,000.

n Noted that a corroded section of pipe about 18 inches long on Highway 34 was responsible for flooding an antique business located along the highway. The corroded section was about 27 feet off the curb.

The highway was redone four years ago this August, so the city is not sure how to proceed in the matter.

The work was completed last week and paved over.

n Pointed out that a fun run will take place July 26, the same day a dive team will go inside the water tower to paint it to guard against corrosion.

n Contracted with the Hubbard County Attorney’s office to prosecute ordinance violations at a fee of $200 per case.

n Voted to look into hiring a new deputy clerk-treasurer after Robbie Gack tendered her resignation,

n Will hold National Night Out, a public acknowledgement of law enforcement efforts, Aug. 5. Last month the council approved a $500 expenditure to fund it.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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