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Downtown Hudson copes with increased traffic

Commuters stream through downtown Hudson on their way home from work in the Twin Cities last Thursday evening.

Stillwater bridge closed until mid-December

The closing of the Stillwater lift bridge for repairs has led to a noticeable increase in traffic through downtown Hudson, according to Public Works and Parks Director Tom Zeuli.

But other than a couple of hours in the morning, and again during the evening commute, the traffic isn't too bad, he said.

Zeuli said the city increased the green-light cycle to 100 seconds for north and southbound traffic on Second Street at the signals at Vine and Walnut streets in anticipation of the increase in traffic.

He said the lights previously were on an 85-second cycle.

He said city officials are considering prohibiting left turns off of Second Street in the downtown for northbound traffic during the evening rush hour.

Zeuli said there has also been an increase in traffic on First Street as motorists use it as an alternate route to avoid signal lights on Second Street.

"We're going to continue to monitor it. We'll try to work through any problems and improve things as we can," he said of the situation.

The Stillwater bridge is scheduled to be closed to vehicle traffic until mid-December.

Prior to its closing, about 18,000 vehicles a day passed over it going to and from Minnesota.

Zeuli said a 2009 traffic count recorded 15,700 trips a day on Second Street at Coulee Road.

"I'm sure the amounts are higher than that (now), but that's pretty substantial," he said.

Pete Foster, the owner of two downtown restaurants, said one of them typically has a little slower business during closings of the Stillwater bridge.

Most of Barker's Bar & Grill's customers are Hudsonites, he said, some shy away from the restaurant when the downtown is congested.

Foster said San Pedro Café's business usually remains steady, or picks up a little, during bridge closings. He speculated that the reason is that more of San Pedro's customers are from out of town.

On a positive note, both of the restaurants had record sales this summer, Foster reported.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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