Pine City’s business loop ready to be experienced by I-35 motorists

The newly-installed I-35 Business Loop signs direct motorists how to "loop" through town, and through the heart of Pine City.

The newly-installed I-35 Business Loop signs direct motorists how to “loop” through town, and through the heart of Pine City.

Once upon a time, 50-some-odd years ago, city folk traveling northbound to their cabins passed directly through Pine City on Old Highway 61.  Then Interstate 35 came, authorized in 1956, which primarily replaced the old highway for most travelers looking to get to their destinations more efficiently.  That meant less opportunity for businesses along Main Street in Pine City …Until now.

A route has been established through the corporate limits of Pine City, called a “business loop”, that provides the traveling public an opportunity to travel through the city, passing through the central business district once again.

After much community interest, in July of 2010 City Staff inquired about how to get an official business loop through the city and downtown to and from the nearby interstate interchanges.

The idea was that Pine City’s downtown, about 1.5 miles off of each of the two nearby interchanges—north and south—would capture some of the 25,000-plus vehicles per day that travel by on I-35.

“At first when the freeway bypassed Sixty-One, our community’s main thoroughfare, we only had one exit, so we couldn’t have had a business loop,” explained Nathan Johnson, city planner.  “We have had the opportunity ever since we established our second exit at County Road 11.”

Sept. 18, 2012, the Pine County Board approved having their roads through Pine City designated as such.  And, just last week, the business loop became a reality, with signage added paid for in part by the Pine City Economic Development Authority, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Pine County.  The Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce will be asked to contribute at its Oct. 1 meeting.

Prior to Pine City’s loop opening, there were just five Minnesota communities with such routes, Albert Lea, Austin, Moorhead, Worthington, and most-recently Faribault, which added its loop in 2006.

“I looked at Faribault’s trunk highway volumes on the roads designated as part of the loop (60 and 21) and noticed considerable increases in traffic after the loop designation,” said Johnson, who hoped to see similar results in Pine City.

“Faribault’s case was a bit different than ours,” Johnson said.  “In the first years of I-35, for approximately 25 years, the freeway actually went through their town and travelers had to deal with several stoplights.  Then, in 1975, the highway went around Faribault where today a motorist has three exit choices for the southern Minnesota town, or to take the business loop through town.”

AASHTO approves and denies such loops.  The loop they approved in Pine City begins at the intersection of I-35 and County State Aid Highway 7 (Hillside Avenue SW at Exit 169) to the intersection with County State Aid Highway 61 (Main Street) and then north along County State Aid Highway 61, parallel to I-35, to the intersection with County State Aid Highway 11 (Henriette Road NW).

Then the business route extends westerly along County State Aid Highway 11 and terminates at the intersection of I-35 and County State Aid Highway 11 (Exit 171).  The route travels south to north through the business district of Pine City, a distance of approximately 3 miles.

“The two loops on I-35 are adequately spaced for people traveling Minnesota, from bottom to top, looking for an easy-off, easy-back-on with some amenities,” Johnson said.  “Faribault serves motorists well between Albert Lea and the Twin

Cities, and Pine City serves them well between the Cities and Duluth.”

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Plethora of choice for your Pine City weekend!

Friday, Oct. 4

  • Farmers’ Market in the Park
    • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Robinson Park, town square – Enjoy it homegrown and handmade!
    • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
      • 3 p.m. – Dusk, 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
      • Old Highway 61 – An Evening to Remember
        • 4 – 6 p.m., Pine Technical College, 900 4th Street SE – Tour virtual Old Highway 61, and see what it has to offer, and hear from MPR’s Cathy Wurzer, author of “Tales from the Road Highway 61”.
        • Highway 61 Film Festival
          • 6 p.m., various show times, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – The Highway 61 Film Festival is a three-day celebration of the magic of movies that was established in 2011 as a means of supporting and promoting independent films and filmmakers from all along Highway 61, and beyond.  
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.    Collections of photographs from area photographers will be shown in a unique way:  “Photos on Buildings” exhibits the talent of photographers by projecting photos onto the backside of Pine Plaza.
            • Pine City Dragons Football Homecoming
              • Tailgate 5 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., east of 7th Grade Commons Area, Pine City High School, 1400 Main Street S. –From 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., enjoy an outdoor BBQ, door prizes, music, and an appearance by the PCHS pep band.  Rain site:  7th Grade Commons.
              • Kick-off at 7 p.m., Saunder’s Field, Pine City High School, 1400 Main Street S. – Wear your Kelly Green and White and cheer on your Dragons (1-4) under the Friday night lights as they take on Crosby-Ironton (2-3). 
              • Late-Night Film Session
                • 10:30 p.m., Danny C’s BeachRocks Supper Club, 10762 Lakeview Shore Dr – A fun-filled evening of an eclectic mix of movies not for the weak of heart!

Saturday, Oct. 5

  • Farmers’ Market in the Park
    • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Robinson Park, town square – Enjoy it homegrown and handmade!
    • PTO Fall Carnival
      • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Pine City Elementary School, 700 6th Avenue SW – The Pine Dragons Parent-Teacher Organization will host their annual Fall Carnival, featuring food, prizes, games, crazy hair, a bounce house and more!
      • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
        • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
        • Highway 61 Film Festival
          • 1 p.m., various show times, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – Day two of the festival brings a great variety of films to the community.  The Film Festival Board is made up of a group of passionate film enthusiasts and artists that have worked to create an outlet for emerging new voices and ideas.  
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.   Yet another reason people will find Pine City to be an exceptional arts destination.
            • Late-Night Film Session
              • 10:30 p.m., Danny C’s BeachRocks Supper Club, 10762 Lakeview Shore Dr – Another fun-filled evening of an eclectic mix of movies not for the weak of heart!

Sunday, Oct. 6

  • Lions Spaghetti Dinner
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., American Legion Post No. 51, 525 Main Street N. – The community is invited to a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Pine City Lions.  A freewill offering will be taken at the door and proceeds will benefit the Pine Community Food Shelf among other local projects.
    • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
      • 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
      • Highway 61 Film Festival
        • Noon, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – For the final day of the festival, there will be a special presentation with films selected by Pine City native and Twin Cities film legend Al Milgrom. 
        • A Place for You Benefit Concert
          • 2 p.m., The Light House, 1045 Main Street S. – A benefit concert for “A Place for You” transitional shelter.   Music and fellowship featuring local church musicians.  Cost is $10.00.
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.    The final night of Photos on Buildings 2013, exhibiting the talent of area photographers.
            • Citizen of the Year Reception
              • 4 – 5:30 p.m., North West Company Fur Post, 12551 Voyageur Lane – The 2013 Citizen of the Year is Harvey Lindstrom, a longtime city employee and an avid community volunteer.  

Chris’ Food Center Hosts Customer Appreciation Week

Chris’ Food Center in Pine City will host their Customer Appreciation Week this week with a special lunch event on Thursday, September 19th.  The public is invited to come to the store from 11am – 1pm (or while supplies last) to enjoy a free lunch provided by a variety of sponsors.

Chris’ Food Center owners, Craig & Kristee Thorvig, have been giving back to the community in a variety of ways since they purchased the location a few years back.  Throughout the summer months, various organizations have had the opportunity to host “BBQ on the Sidewalk” events at their store.  The Friday and Saturday lunch option has gained in popularity and the groups that are hosting the events have appreciated the fundraising opportunity it provides.

As a member of the Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce, Chris’ Food Center is also a location where the local currency “Chamber Bucks” can be spent.  The Chamber uses the gift certificates as prizes for a few of the community events – the golf tournament, annual banquet, and Holiday Madness – to name a few.  They are also available for purchase by other members and the community for incentives, prizes and gifts.

Don’t miss the opportunity to register for prizes at Chris’ Food Center this week for their Customer Appreciation Week.

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