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MnDOT reveals proposed changes to stretch of highway where teens were hit

Updated: September 19, 2019 10:12 PM

Big changes are coming to a section of Highway 47 that runs through St. Francis and has faced more scrutiny after two teenagers were hit by a car last year.

Kaia Bollmann, of Oak Grove, and Annie Lamotte, of Nowthen, both 14, were seriously hurt after being struck in the crosswalk of the highway outside St. Francis Middle School last November.

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After the crash, their parents and other families fought for improvements that would increase safety for pedestrians, including petitioning the Minnesota Department of Transportation to build a pedestrian bridge over the highway.

The department made temporary changes, including adding a traffic signal and changing the speed limit.

But, MnDOT engineer Melissa Barnes said a traffic signal will not work long-term and that they want to come up with a permanent solution.

"We're trying to get people to slow down," Barnes said. "We're trying to get people to really get the road to be safer."

Girls struck, driver in St. Francis crash identified

On Thursday, MnDOT presented several options to people in St. Francis during a community meeting. The solutions include putting in roundabouts, reconfiguring the turn lanes or even raising the road to build a pedestrian tunnel underneath it.

Amanda Zandlo, a parent from St. Francis, said she isn't sold yet on any of the idea and wants the traffic light to stay.

"I feel like it's not only stopping traffic, but kids," she said. "People are stopping and looking. It's not just a yield."

Zandlo said she drives the highway daily.

"It could have been anyone that hit them, and it could have been my kids that got hit," Zandlo said.

MnDOT plans to host another meeting toward the end of the year to present its plan. Construction could start as early as 2021.

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Kirsten Swanson

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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