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Council says no to roundabout, path for Lake Road project

The people spoke. The Woodbury City Council listened.

There will be no roundabout at Woodlane Drive and Lake Road -- for now.

Several residents testified in opposition to the roundabout during a public hearing at the Wednesday, March 11 city council meeting where the council ultimately voted 4-0 for a very scaled back version of the Lake Road improvement project. Council member Julie Ohs was absent.

The council's vote directed the city to move forward with plans to repave Lake Road 3,000 feet east of Woodlane Drive. The approval does not include any direction for an intersection upgrade at Lake and Woodlane. It also includes no plans for a new park path that was proposed to be constructed on the south side of Lake Road. Council member ultimately decided to make the needed surface improvements and continue to study the impacts of a roundabout in residential areas.

The city will move forward with plans for the scaled back project, this summer, said David Jessup, Woodbury Public Works director.

The improvements were initially scheduled to be made in the summer of 2010, but because the roundabout and park path improvements were not approved, the mill and overlay on Lake Road can begin this summer, Jessup said.

Persistent opposition

The council has held meetings to discuss the project over the last several months dating back to August 2008.

City engineering officials attempted to make several revisions to plans for the proposed park path that minimized impacts to residential properties, but some residents continued to voice their opposition to the proposed park path at the March 11 meeting.

Others, like Karen Grimm, voiced their aired their concerns over the proposed roundabout at Lake and Woodlane, which Grimm said would make it even more difficult for her neighbors to get in and out of their subdivision during peak traffic times.

"It's difficult to get out of our driveway today with the street light," said Grimm, who lives in the Carver Lake Meadows neighborhood. "Here in a highly residential area, I just don't see how the roundabout can work because the traffic is not going to stop."

Bruce Reichert voiced his opposition to both the roundabout and construction of a walking path on the south side of Lake Road, which would have been constructed on the edge of his property line.

"I have a daughter who crosses Lake Road to catch a school bus and she waits for break in traffic to cross the street," said Reichert, who added he believes a roundabout at the nearby intersection not allow for any break in traffic.

Clint Christiansen, whose property also abuts Lake Road, urged the council to consider the amount of residents who have opposed construction of the new path and roundabout.

"It doesn't make sense to me when you have so many people showing up in opposition to this to support this project," said Christiansen.

City engineering staff first proposed the $2.5 million-project last summer to upgrade the quality of the road surface and to improve traffic flow at the increasingly busy intersection.

After listening to more than an hour of public testimony at the March 11 meeting, Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis proposed the city move forward with the mill and overlay portion of the project, and hold off on any intersection improvements.

"With the mill and overlay, that buys you seven or eight years and buys you a little time to look at the history before we have to address this again," Hargis said.

Council member Amy Scoggins said she supported engineering staff's initial recommendations for installation of the roundabout and a new park path.

"I think the research they've done shows the benefits to both of those items," Scoggins said.

Rebholz intimated that he too was comfortable with the proposed project and defended the city's initial plans for installation of the park path, which would have connected it to other trails in the area, as directed in the city's comprehensive growth plan.

"I recognize the impact (the proposed roundabout and park path posed) to the neighborhood," Rebholz said, "but there is a greater community benefit to connecting as many trails as we can. And to me the roundabout and trail were always connected issues. If we were to do the roundabout we'd need to provide a trail on that south side of Lake."

Council member Mary Stephens said she was comfortable with the scaled back improvements as it would give the city more time to study the impacts a roundabout would have at Lake and Woodlane intersection, which will ultimately need some form of an upgrade.