City, Washington County officials hash out Woodbury Drive plansSafety and homeowners’ rights continued to be the biggest concerns Wednesday as Woodbury City Council members met with Washington County officials to discuss plans for the upcoming Woodbury Drive construction project.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
Safety and homeowners’ rights continued to be the biggest concerns Wednesday as Woodbury City Council members met with Washington County officials to discuss plans for the upcoming Woodbury Drive construction project.
Members of the Washington County transportation engineering department unveiled the latest look of an evolving plan for the corridor, which looks to install two roundabouts on Woodbury Drive – one at Lake Road, the other at Bailey Road. The approximately $10 million project also looks to widen the stretch from two to four lanes.
The latest plans call for what’s known as “partial multi-lane” roundabout at both intersections.
The project also looks to install multi-use trails on both sides of the roadway, connecting existing city and county trail systems.
Washington County Transportation Engineer Joe Gustafson said the partial multi-lane roundabout design maximizes safety and provides “acceptable” traffic flow for the foreseeable future.
The roundabout design only allows for one of the two lanes in either direction to follow the roundabout as it curves to the left.
“It makes it clearer for who has to yield,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson said the configuration – which is different from what drivers navigating the Radio Drive-Bailey Road intersection experience – lessens the possibility of crashes caused by failure to yield and improper lane use.
The project also calls for pedestrian crossings on all four sides of the intersection. Each crossing has a halfway “refuge” stop in an island separating the opposing traffic lanes. Transportation engineering officials said the design minimizes a pedestrian’s crossing time and exposure to traffic.
Washington County transportation team members detailed in “Noggin Cam” video how they walked a similar roundabout in Savage, but Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said she did some research of her own that left her with questions.
Stephens said she walked roundabouts in Savage, Richfield and around Washington County. She questioned the safety of landscaping features in roundabouts, like trees, that can obscure sight lines for pedestrians.
“It kind of startled us,” she said.
While Minnesota law gives pedestrians the right of way as soon as they enter crosswalks, Stephens said that doesn’t automatically make it safe for foot traffic – even in roundabouts.
“You’ve really got to have both lanes stopping to do it,” she said.
As the plan moves forward, she urged education efforts for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Woodbury City Council Member Paul Rebholz asked whether the stretch between Bailey and Lake roads could be narrowed to one lane to minimize the impact on neighboring properties slated to be torn up to accommodate the roadway expansion.
County officials contend that traffic lanes there – which would be widened as part of the project – need to include six-foot shoulders to accommodate bicycle traffic and space for vehicle breakdowns or police stops.
Woodbury resident Al Rudnickas, speaking on behalf of the Wedgewood Homeowners Association, said survey stakes are already pounded down in some neighboring residents’ lawns.
“My heart goes out to those people who have the lots at Highway 19 and Antrim (Road),” he said.
Twenty-four properties will be assessed as part of the project, said Woodbury Public Works Deputy Director Klayton Eckles. He said there will be an assessment hearing in coming weeks.
After the meeting, Rebholz said the plan has adapted to recommendations made by the city, but still has some work to go with regard to homeowner impact.
Still, he said, “The project is better today than it was when it started.”
The project must first be approved by City Council before Washington County Board can adopt it. Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley said the project will undergo more changes.
The council could approve it by early June, Gridley said.
If approved, construction is slated to begin in spring 2013.