Another roundabout on Woodbury streets? City officials make caseWoodbury City Council members said they were surprised to see Washington County’s Radio Drive plans without a roundabout.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury City Council members said they were surprised to see Washington County’s Radio Drive plans without a roundabout.
With all the talk about safety and mobility of roundabouts on Woodbury Drive, city leaders expected to see one at Radio Drive and Hargis Parkway as well.
The council held a workshop session last Wednesday to review preliminary plans to reconstruct Radio Drive, a county highway, from Bailey Road south to Hargis Parkway.
Washington County is responsible for paying for the improvements, which would expand the road to four lanes and add a signal at Hargis Parkway.
However, city officials said they would pitch in for the roundabout if funding was an issue.
The county decided against a roundabout at Hargis Parkway because of the traffic volume, having to acquire more land and the time element to finish by next year, said Joe Gustafson, a county traffic engineer.
“We just weren’t seeing the type of through traffic that we would see at Bailey Road,” he said.
He said there were no “compelling reasons” to put a roundabout at Hargis Parkway.
But City Administrator Clint Gridley said it’s not just about traffic volume and the technicalities of roundabouts versus traffic signals.
“Your perspective is transportation system,” he said. “Our perspective is building a community.”
He added that Woodbury officials don’t want to get people driving through the city and getting out as quickly as possible. With Urban Village coming soon, in addition to an expanded Bielenberg Sports Center, there will be a number of recreational opportunities for those traveling through Woodbury from the south.
“It’s more than a signal or a roundabout,” Gridley added.
The city is left with limited options, however. In order to use the $860,000 Metropolitan Council grant it received last year to construct an underpass at the Bailey Road roundabout, the project needs to move forward this year and start in 2013.
Additionally, the Urban Village developer is eager to begin building a grocery store to kick start the new development that would include housing, shops, restaurants and parks.
A roundabout would require a lot more time, which would delay the opening of Urban Village.
“We don’t really have much of a voice,” Council Member Christopher Burns said. “It’s pretty much take it or leave it.”
The city is collaborating with county engineers on the project designs.
Council Member Paul Rebholz said he’s open to sharing the cost of constructing a roundabout with Washington County if that’s what it takes to put one at Hargis Parkway.
With a signal at the intersection, he said “how do we know that we don’t get traffic backing up in the roundabout at Radio Drive and Bailey Road?”
Citing traffic patterns, Gustafson added that the only feasible roundabout would be one with double left turn lanes, a form that’s unfamiliar to local drivers.
That type of roundabout would allow drivers to turn left from the outside lane, he added, potentially causing more accidents.
And with the properties at the southwest corner of Radio Drive and Hargis Parkway, Gustafson said larger acquisition would be required.
Rebholz encouraged county engineers to begin the process for any acquisition needed to add the roundabout and bring back any cost difference to the city.
Although the council gave the OK to go forward with the plans, they emphasized the importance of continuing the discussion to add a roundabout.
Gridley said it may affect the resident living on the edge of the intersection more than anybody else, but it’s about the bigger picture.
Just like trail connectivity, roundabouts have been beneficial to the traffic flow in Woodbury, Rebholz added.
“We’re sold on roundabouts, so what I don’t get is why we just don’t do them,” he said.