Roundabout planned in Lakeville for 2014
Some residents concerned about access after project at junction of county roads 50 and 60
Rush-hour commutes in Lakeville often involve passage through the intersection of county roads 50 (Kenwood Trail) and 60 (185th Street).
County Road 60 feeds to and from I-35 and County Road 50 takes Lakeville residents through a huge swath of the city north- and southbound.
But navigating that intersection (or near it) has become an exercise in traveling at a molasses pace. Both roads are near capacity where they meet.
The most recent data, from 2009, indicates that about 28,250 vehicles a day enter the intersection. So traffic becomes slow- or no-going as motorists wait several minutes and multiple stoplight cycles to clear the hurdle.
Because of this, Lakeville and Dakota County will redesign the intersection to be a multi-lane roundabout, which a 2011 study said was the best way to control traffic. The city currently has a small roundabout on Kenrick Avenue and 175th Street.
There has been some concern voiced about the project. The City Council tabled a joint powers agreement at its Monday, Aug. 20, meeting because it had questions about the agreement with Dakota County.
City Administrator Steve Mielke said the level of service, combined with cost-effectiveness, makes the roundabout the best option.
The cost comparison is significant, he said. A standard, expanded intersection would cost $8.3 million, whereas a multilane roundabout would cost $3.5 million.
Two additional components of the project will bring the projected cost to about $6.5 million: Expansion of County Road 50 to a four-lane highway from County Road 60 to Jurel Way and County Road 60 to four lanes from County Road 50 to Orchard Trail, according to the city.
The reason for the cost difference between intersection types is a matter of the scope of each option.
“You have to buy a lot of land and build a full signal system,” Mielke said about the non-roundabout option.
The cost obligations would be 55 percent Dakota County and 45 percent Lakeville, with the federal government offering grant money.
The county said there are a number of reasons a roundabout works better than simply adding additional lanes:
• A decrease in vehicle delay time at the intersection;
• Lower vehicle speeds, resulting in less severe crashes and increased pedestrian safety;
• Long-term overall reduction of crashes;
• Lower vehicle operating costs and lower construction costs; and
• A decrease in right-of-way impacts.
Construction is expected to start sometime in spring to fall 2014. Design, public outreach and engineering began in late 2011 and will persist through summer 2013, according to the county.
Residents along County Road 50, in addition to officials at Kenwood Trail Middle School, are concerned about access issues.
Bob Erickson, on behalf of those living along the road, said during the public comment portion of the Aug. 20 meeting that when traffic backs up now it is bad enough, but what about when motorists have to confront a roundabout?
Erickson pointed out gaps in traffic – those points between red lights when traffic is flowing enough to allow cars in and out of driveways and roads that pour out onto County Road 50.
“They are concerned about safely getting out of their neighborhoods between 7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m.,” said Erickson, a current District 194 school board member and former resident of the Jaguar Path neighborhood, which is located down the street from the intersection.
The county has indicated that gaps and access would not be a problem, but Erickson said he has not read a study that supports that.
He did praise the lane expansion plans.
A few years ago, Richfield installed a multilane roundabout that Lakeville’s would resemble in terms of the traffic counts and general design. Concerns at the time were similar to those Erickson expressed, Mielke said. After time, he said, it became evident there were no problems with gaps and access.
According to the county, traffic at the 50-60 intersection is expected to nearly double over the next couple decades. Status quo would push it over capacity, creating an “unacceptable level of service.”
The council voted Aug. 20 to table a vote two weeks on a revised JPA between the county and the city because the council “asked me to have conversations with the county to verify county’s commitment to project and process,” Mielke said. This includes confirmations about the ease of access for intersecting roads on County Road 50.
But there is also future growth to consider along the whole stretch of the corridor (and not just that particular intersection).
The roundabout project is expected improve traffic conditions now and pave the way for some room to grow, but that thoroughfare will only become busier as Lakeville develops. Unlike Richfield, Lakeville is not built-out.
The council asked Mielke to talk with the county to pursue a corridor study of the area. This three- to four-month, $100,000 process would gather enough data to help the organizations plan for the needs of the corridor. It would be paid for 55 percent by the county and 45 percent by the city.
“The study is going to proceed, but we don’t have a time line for it initially,” he said. The city would then pass the study along to the county and School District 194.
A corridor study would, among other things, look at future traffic signal needs. Right now, Mielke said, there is a nearly two-mile stretch of County Road 50 that has no signal.
“It’s very likely there will need to be another traffic control device on that stretch of road in the future,” he said.
Though the federal grant funds for the project are slated for 2013, Mielke said a delay in the project should not put those funds in jeopardy.
For more information, check out the project’s website at http://www.50and60.com/.