Changes Coming to Nashwauk Intersection Where Teens Were Killed

Ryan Juntti
Updated: June 11, 2019 11:27 PM

The scene in Nashwauk over the weekend was tragic. Two teenagers were killed in a two-vehicle crash. MnDOT says they knew changes were needed, and that they were planned, but they came too late for the boys who died.

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MnDOT says they had a plan in the works to improve safety at the intersection. They say back in 2016 the area was identified as one that should be upgraded based on safety concerns.

Community members say they are welcoming the change.

It was a somber scene Tuesday afternoon as community members left flowers and sent prayers to two teenage boys who were killed Saturday afternoon on Highway 169 in Nashwauk.

13-year-old Trent Casey Salminen of Hibbing and 16-year-old Aiden Patrick Hall of Grand Rapids were killed in the two vehicle crash.

"As a parent of a teenager, of course your mind kind of goes there too. You think about the safety of your own kids when they do start driving," said John Weiher, a Nashwauk community member.

The State Patrol says the boys were traveling north on Highway 169, and were attempting a left hand turn onto Highway 65. The patrol says their car was then struck by a camper traveling south on 169.

"I've always thought it was really poorly conceived and unfortunately its proven time and time again to be a sore spot for travelers," said Weiher.

But now MnDOT says they plan to construct a Reduced Conflict Intersection, which community members say is long overdo.

In a statement, MnDOT says there is an issue with part of the car frame blocking the turning driver's view of oncoming traffic. The state says it plans to modify the left turn lane on northbound 169, so that drivers will be looking through their front windshield at oncoming traffic.

"We certainly hope to see those changes," said Weiher. 

There is also a Reduced Conflict Intersection along Highway 53 in Cotton. MnDOT says studies show these types of intersections mean a 70 percent reduction in fatalities and a 42 percent reduction in injury crashes.

Until the changes in Nashwauk, Weiher has advice for drivers in that area to make sure they stay safe.

"The biggest thing I would encourage drivers to make sure is to, particularly when you're judging that traffic that's oncoming, to give yourself a little more time to watch vehicles, to gauge their pace little better because it is deceiving how quickly vehicles come up on you," said Weiher.

The project in Nashwauk is expected to start and finish sometime between June and September next year.


Ryan Juntti

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