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Council looks to put Evergreen streets issue to rest tonight

After weeks of discussion, Woodbury City Council came to a final conclusion about the designs for Evergreen neighborhood streets.

Council members will vote tonight on what they saw at a workshop meeting last Wednesday as the most feasible option: 32 foot-wide streets with 8-foot trails

Woodbury officials have had considerable discussion centered on the original proposal to narrow streets from their existing 44-foot width to 28 feet this construction season.

Many residents of the Evergreen neighborhood strongly opposed the measure, while others agreed that narrower access roads would curb a speeding problem.

The project failed to pass in March due to lack of support, but the council reconsidered it a month later and opened it for bids with alternates that provide flexibility in road designs.

City engineer John Bradford said the bids came in favorable at a total cost of $6.5 million for the entire project that includes Currell Boulevard and Tamarack Road.

The city considered incorporating a 5-foot sidewalk instead of a trail, but the Evergreen Homeowners Association would’ve had to maintain it and be liable for accidents.

Going for an 8-foot-wide trail allows the city to maintain the trail with its own equipment and eliminates any potential homeowner liability.

A trail adds $150,000 to the cost, but on a $6 million project, it’s a minimal impact, Bradford said.

“The cost is a little less of a driver because it’s a small percentage,” he said.

Council Member Paul Rebholz said although he didn’t see sidewalk liability as an issue, he advocated for an 8-foot concrete trail.

“I think we may have made more of it than there truly is,” he said, adding that sidewalks exist all over the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area without causing hundreds of lawsuits.

The council was presented with a few other options, including narrowing Pinehurst Road and Tamberwood Trail to 28 feet with 6-foot-wide sidewalks, or 28 feet with 8-foot trails.

“We didn’t take action on ‘28-8’ when we had the opportunity to do that,” Rebholz said. “We threw out ‘28-8’ the first night.”

The 32-foot wide option appeared to be a compromise. Bradford said more residents seemed to favor that option over the others at a neighborhood meeting last week.

However, Public Works Director Klayton Eckles anticipates speeding will still be a problem on the 32-foot wide access roads.

“That’s a definite issue given that’s a local collector road,” he said of Tamberwood Trail, noting that speeding will be reduced, but “that’s plenty of room for people to feel comfortable driving over the posted speed.”

After much discussion over which design option will please the most residents, three council members, Amy Scoggins, Julie Ohs and Paul Rebholz, showed support for the 32-foot wide streets with an 8-foot trail. Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens abstained due to conflict of interest and Council Member Christopher Burns was absent. An official vote will take place at tonight’s regular council meeting.

“At this point, we want to move this project along,” Rebholz said. “We have to come to some sort of agreement.”

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.