- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014
Lawmakers demand higher speed limits on more miles

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - On more of Minnesota’s two-lane state highways, motorists could soon be free to drive above 55 - legally.

As part of an expansive budget bill signed into law last week, state lawmakers nudged transportation officials to boost the speed limit to 60 miles per hour on lane miles where it can “reasonably and safely” be done. By 2019, traffic engineers must examine every mile of road with a 55 mph limit and determine if it is prudent to go higher.

It’s an enormous undertaking. There are 6,771 miles on two-lane/two-way state highways now covered by a 55 mph limit. Officials figure they’ll get through about one-fifth per year, starting as soon as next month. They will analyze each stretch’s crash history, design, lane width, sight lines and ditch slope.

“The fact we’re studying the roads does not mean you can jump to the conclusion that all roads will be raised to 60 miles per hour,” said Peter Buchen, assistant state traffic engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

But the agency has been moving in that direction. In 2005, the department bumped the limit to 60 mph on 791 miles of two-lane highways and added another 750 miles last year. Buchen said those were prime candidates - straight, wide-open stretches with clear sight lines and low incidence of crashes. He said limits on hillier, curvier highways probably won’t budge.


Watching cisco for clues to fishery health

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin and Minnesota scientists are studying a little-known and vulnerable fish whose disappearance could mean smaller musky, pike and walleye in the states’ inland lakes.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is three years into its first comprehensive study of the cisco, a slender white fish that scientists say is an important food for other fish and may serve as an early warning of problems in fisheries.

“Cisco are a key component to how a lot of lakes operate,” said John Lyons, a DNR fisheries scientist on the study.

Lyons and two other Wisconsin scientists have chosen nearly 200 public and private lakes with good cisco habitat. They’re trying to measure the abundance of the fish in Wisconsin’s lakes where sometimes the only evidence comes from old photos, rumors or inadvertent catches from unrelated studies.

They’ve never focused solely on cisco, which some anglers call lake herring or tullibee. Results from the study will become a foundation scientists will use as they assess which fish are at risk of disappearing.


Reaction to Mille Lacs walleye limit mixed

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Business owners on Mille Lacs Lake have mixed feelings about new state rules prohibiting late-night walleye fishing expeditions.

Terry Thurmer, who owns Terry’s Boat Harbor, a marina and launch service, said night trips made up roughly 70 percent of his business over the last 25 years. Those trips are popular with anglers who drive two hours north from the Twin Cities area to fish the big lake after work.

This year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources extended the regular four-week early season night fishing ban through the full season, requiring fishermen to get off the lake by 10 p.m.

“This is terrible,” Thurmer told Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1m1YMxehttps://bit.ly/1m1YMxe ).

Mille Lacs Lake has been called the crown jewel of the state’s large-lake walleye fishery. But right now, the walleye population is at a 40-year low, and this year’s walleye kill limit is about 60,000 pounds.


Farmington man dies while fleeing police

FARMINGTON, Minn. (AP) - A 24-year-old Farmington man was killed after he struck a tree while fleeing police in southern Minnesota.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (https://bit.ly/1gu46Mfhttps://bit.ly/1gu46Mf ) the chase began in Farmington after police tried to stop Cody J. Swanson in a Buick 4-door sedan at about 4 a.m. Sunday but he refused.

According to Farmington police, Swanson led police eastbound about 28 miles into Red Wing where an officer put down spikes to slow him, though he continued at a “high rate of speed.”

The Minnesota State Patrol said he eventually veered off the road and crashed into a tree.

An eight-year veteran Farmington officer who assisted has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Farmington police and the Minnesota State Patrol are continuing to investigate the incident.

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