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Second Radio Drive roundabout ruled out

Courtesy of Washington County Public Works Department.1 / 2
Courtesy of Washington County Public Works.2 / 2

There won't be a roundabout at Hargis Parkway and Radio Drive after all.

A roundabout at that intersection is not safe or feasible based on traffic patterns and the nature of the road, said Washington County Director of Public Works Don Theisen.

"Nothing is ever black or white, it's gray," he told Woodbury City Council Members Wednesday, Nov. 14.

The project to reconstruct Radio Drive south of Bailey Road is a partnership between county and city engineers.

After much discussion on what to do at the Hargis Parkway intersection, where more development is poised to take place in the next few years, county engineers decided against a roundabout.

Theisen said county engineers are still learning from the first-ever multilane roundabout built in Minnesota, the one at Radio Drive and Bailey Road.

The most common types of crashes at the Bailey roundabout are caused by drivers who aren't familiar with how the roundabout works - some crash into a car going straight in the roundabout after failing to yield.

The second most common crash occurs when cars in the outside lane are turning left using the right-hand lane, crashing into a vehicle that has the right of way in the left lane.

Theisen said studies show traffic is not balanced north and south of Hargis Parkway, which means a roundabout does not trump a traditional signal there.

"You got highly variable traffic there and a signal allows us to manage that," he said.

Additionally, the nature of the road would require putting in an even more confusing roundabout.

"We'd be building a design to encourage the same type of crash that we're seeing at Bailey Road," he said.

County engineers kept in mind the Phase 2 development as well. Theisen said a roundabout will not benefit retailers who will eventually join that area.

City officials had previously argued that a roundabout at Hargis Parkway will help with smoother traffic flow around East Ridge High School, where multiple single lane roundabouts have been successful.

But after further review, City Council approved plans for the project - without a roundabout - at last Wednesday's meeting.

The quarter-mile part of the road south of Bailey Road will change from a rural road to a four-lane divided highway with a third underpass at Bailey Road.

The city of Woodbury is taking on a third of the $3 million price tag, while the county is footing the rest of the bill, City Engineer Klayton Eckles said.

The project is set to start in July 2013, at the same time Woodbury Drive is also scheduled for reconstruction.

"The southern part of Woodbury will be very busy with construction next year," Eckles said.

One other feature of the project is the laying of underground power lines, something energy companies and city governments are moving toward, he said.

"If they're buried they tend to be more protected from storms," Eckles said.

He added, however, that they're hard to find when they do go out.

The city will also have to get right-of-way easement acquisition from property owners, which is a key element of the project, Eckles said.

Three residential properties and Five Oaks Church will be affected by the project and city staff has been working with those property owners to come to an agreement prior to construction, he 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.