Ely-Tower Communities Demanding Action on Highway 169

By KBJR News 1

May 17, 2014 Updated May 17, 2014 at 7:14 PM CDT

Tower, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- When you travel to Bob's Amico in Tower, Minnesota, one will find a graveyard of crushed cars and trucks. The vehicles there suffered similar fates on an accident-prone stretch of road on Highway 169.

Three car accidents occurred this week on Highway 169 between Tower and Ely, Minnesota, which has community members in that area pushing for safer roads.

"In actuality the Ely to Tower section is the is the worst part between Ely and Virginia," said Bill Erzar, who is on a local task force that has been trying to fix the six mile stretch of road for fifteen years.

Erzar has witnessed dozens of car accidents on Highway 169, three of them fatal.

"That was our primary concern: the number of injuries and how lousy of a road it is," said Erzar.

Erzar has been working with Congressman Rick Nolan (MN-08) and MNDOT officials to fix the hazardous road that is sometimes deadly.

Congressman Nolan traveled on the curvy road on March of 2013.

"We need to make some improvement on this road sooner rather than later," said Nolan in 2013.

Nolan agreed a project to fix the road was needed. Since then, however, Erzar and others say what has been done to improve the road is not enough.

"We are getting a little disgusted with how it's not moving along very good," said Erzar. "It seems like we are going around in circles."

MNDOT officials say that while highway improvements are crucial, the accident data that has been collected is no different than data collected on other state roads.

Despite what state officials say, Erzar and others will continue the fight to secure funding, so the fatal accidents that happened to their neighbor's, do not happen to someone else.

"We don't need this," said Erzar. "We need to get this road fixed."

Nick Minock