BAXTER - After numerous hours of planning, the Baxter City Council on Tuesday green-lighted the Isle Drive extension plan.

The council unanimously adopted the Isle Drive and Elder Drive transportation study. The transportation study includes a three-lane Isle Drive extension connecting the street to Highland Scenic Drive to the south. What remains unknown is how Isle Drive will connect to Highland Scenic and Ironwood drives. The city is working on that plan with Crow Wing County. A roundabout there may cost $825,000. A signal light is estimated to cost $950,000, without adding in engineering or right-of-way costs.

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The traffic study pointed to a 35 percent reduction in crashes at a roundabout versus a signal light. But the county will need to weigh in as Highland Scenic Drive is a county road.

With the city approval of the transportation plan, city staff will now meet with affected area residents notably those living along Perch Lake.

The transportation study area looked at connecting Isle Drive from Highland Scenic Drive, also known as County Highway 48, to the south and Highway 210 to the north.

The study area included the west side of Perch Lake, Highway 210 to the north, Highway 371 to the east and Highland Scenic Drive to the south. The area is part of Baxter’s growing region, including Costco.

Construction to extend Isle Drive could begin spring of 2014. Extending Isle Drive creates a north and south corridor potentially connecting Highland Scenic Drive to Foley Drive.

The extended Isle Drive would have two lanes of dedicated traffic in either direction and a center turn lane. The plan calls for a bike lane at the edge of the road and concrete sidewalks as the area develops.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at