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Confounding Valley Creek Road stop signs getting the hook

Stop signs at Valley Creek Road and the former Cottage Grove Drive will be removed as part of a construction project next spring. (Staff photo by Riham Feshir)

Most drivers question their existence anyway.

The infamous, largely believed useless stop signs at Valley Creek Road, which haven’t served a purpose in eight years, will soon be history.

Last week, Woodbury City Council decided it was time for the stop signs to go and gave engineers the go-ahead to remove them as part of a construction project next spring.

The stop signs at the former Cottage Grove Drive intersection that was closed off when new homes went up have been a topic of discussion for years as engineers figure out a safe way to address the annoyance that comes with them while keeping safety in mind.

After a traffic study was done to determine necessary upgrades to that area bound by Woodbury Drive, Valley Creek Road, Manning Avenue and Lake Road, engineers had a few recommendations: to lower the hill at the stop sign, add shoulders and possibly relocate the private driveway directly to the west.

“We all like to see the stop signs go away somehow, someday, some way,” Public Works Director Klayton Eckles said. “Our first priority has been safety.”

Shaving the hill down four feet and upgrading the landscaping a bit will help eliminate sight issues, he added, and make engineers more comfortable removing the stop signs.

Back in 2006, City Council authorized the closure of Cottage Grove Drive at Valley Creek Road but left the eastbound and westbound stop signs there.

At first, the city proposed to remove them to avoid rear-end collisions since an intersection no longer existed.

But adjacent property owners voiced concerns regarding the removal of the stop signs. They said it would create a dangerous situation for them accessing their properties, particularly one that’s about 400 feet west of the old intersection.

The signs also sit on top of a hill, creating sight distance issues as well, they argued.

At the time it made sense to leave the stop signs there since Washington County was proposing to take over the road, reconstruct it into four lanes, lower the hill and improve it to accommodate increased traffic that came with development in that part of Woodbury.

But with the housing slowdown in 2008 and corresponding delays in traffic increases, plans were put on hold.

In 2013, Woodbury City Council decided to go ahead with a traffic study before making final decisions.

The study results were released last week where consultants said they didn’t see any need to expand the road into four lanes based on current data and future predictions.

The two lanes can easily accommodate traffic volumes for at least another 10 years, according to the study.

“Do we want to make the investment in a major piece of infrastructure?” Eckles said. “The recommendation is no, don’t overbuild a roadway that we may not need.”

Traffic volumes on Valley Creek Road between St. John Drive and former Cottage Grove Drive have increased from 5,800 cars a day in 2006 to 7,400 vehicles a day presently. The projected 2030 average daily traffic volume is 10,360 vehicles per day, according to the study.

Without the level of traffic necessary for four lanes, Eckles asked why the city should build a new road now when technology is sure to change in 15 to 20 years that may change how traffic operates.

“We have the opportunity to build a slimmed down roadway, more cost effective roadway and achieve most of our safety goals with the less expensive option,” he said.

The project estimated cost is $490,000, which will come from money that was set aside in the Phase One development roadway special assessment fund.

Engineers say the project will address current needs, but also give the flexibility needed for future upgrades if traffic volumes do increase.

“The improvements that we make today, we’ll get our value and our dollar out of that,” Eckles said.

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.