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Speed, safety trigger traffic control ideas

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News Alexandria,Minnesota 56308
Echo Press
Speed, safety trigger traffic control ideas
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549

Motorists are soon going to see changes at four different intersections in Douglas County.

The intersections - County Road 40 and County Road 8, County Road 45 and County Road 82, County Road 45 and County Road 90, and County Road 46 and Pioneer Road - were part of an intersection safety analysis performed by WSB and Associates, a consulting engineering firm with offices in St. Cloud and Minneapolis.


Douglas County Public Works Director Dave Robley and Chuck Rickart from WSB and Associates, provided information to Douglas County commissioners at their January 25 regular board meeting.

Rickart provided information about each intersection, including traffic volumes, traffic speeds, intersection lane configurations, three-year crash history (2006-2008) and existing intersection control and signage. Traffic counts were performed last fall.

Rickart provided recommendations for each intersection:


45 AND 82

Traffic counts on these two roads indicated that there were about 4,000 vehicles that traveled on County Road 45 and about 11,000 on County Road 82 during the traffic study period.

Rickart noted that there have been two crashes at this intersection but that the crash data doesn't adequately reflect the issues at hand.

"There is a lot of potential for crashes," he said. "And because of that, the intersection does warrant a stoplight."

However, he also noted that the lanes in the intersection don't line up with one another and work would need to be done before traffic lights could be installed.

A short-term solution at this time - until construction work could be done - would be to install a four-way stop, said Rickart.

The four-way could be installed this spring and then the stoplights could be installed in 2012, he noted, adding that the county will have to work with the city of Alexandria on this project because part of the intersection is within city limits.

As for the speed study that was done, Rickart noted that the east and westbound lanes had issues with speeders - most vehicles were going at least five miles over the posted 45-mile per hour speed limit.

It was just the opposite in the north and southbound lanes - the majority of traffic was going at a rate of five miles per hour less than the posted speed limits.


Speed is the concern at this intersection. Data indicated that 85 percent of motorists were traveling five to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit in the north, east and westbound lanes. Traffic in the southbound lane was traveling at the correct speed limit.

"People are not paying attention to their speedometers [in this area]," said Rickart. "Safety is extremely important here."

Rickart noted that crash data revealed there were three crashes at this intersection, but that two of three were fatal. He said the severity rate for the crashes was "extremely high."

Some of the recommendations for this intersection include driver feedback signs, flashing beacons and LED stop signs, like what is used on Highway 29 North at Carlos Corners.


40 AND 8

Rickart said this intersection had the highest safety concerns. During the three-year crash study, there were nine crashes reported. And although none of them were fatal, six of them were reported as personal injury accidents.

"By far, this has the highest crash issues," Rickart told the commissioners. "Safety is obviously the biggest issue. Speed is an issue. People are just speeding through this intersection."

Commissioner Norm Salto asked about the addition of "rumble strips" to the roads at this intersection.

Robley replied, "Rumble strips get your attention, but don't force you to stop."

Rickart said that rumble strips could be a tool that can be looked at, but that putting in a roundabout is also an option.

Speed at this intersection is also a concern, he noted. In all but the eastbound lane, traffic moved at rates five to 10 miles over the posted speed limits.

Some of the solutions - or recommendations - include intersection lighting, flashing beacons or LED stop signs for the short term. A long-term solution might include realigning the roadway approaches and constructing turning lanes. The realignment would square up the intersection into a 90-degree intersection.



Rickart indicated that this is also a high-crash area - there were six crashes recorded in the three-year timeframe. Speeding was an issue in both the east and westbound lanes.

Intersection lighting, flashing beacons and LED stop signs were included on the short-term recommendation list.

However, Rickart made it clear that in the near future, this intersection will be ready for stoplights. It's located in a prime development area - near the site of a proposed new high school, the new First Lutheran Church and Knute Nelson's new senior living campus.

The future growth indicates that traffic is only going to continue to grow and that the intersection will be ready for traffic signals further down the road.


Rickart explained to commissioners that there are a variety of funding opportunities for the projects at the four intersections, including local funds, state aid, federal hazard elimination safety program funds and the federal surface transportation program.

The commissioners did not take any action at this time.

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