Roundabouts planned at two locations on roadway

Sherburne County has learned it will receive $1.68 million to construct two roundabouts on Twin Lakes Road in Elk River, including that one that will replace the curve in front of Twin Lakes Elementary School.

The other will be built at Twin Lakes Road and County Road 33 or Viking Boulevard. The funding will come to the county in 2022, but officials hope to break ground in the spring of 2020 by covering the cost up front and getting reimbursed when the federal funds flow to Minnesota. The first step will be to acquire rights of way for the project.

Andrew Witter, the public works director for Sherburne County, applied for the Local Surface Transportation Program funding and waded through the competitive process of the Central Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership.

Nine applications were submitted, and two were awarded — Sherburne County’s one for County Road 13 and another project in Wright County.

“County Road 13 (in Elk River) is not a rural corridor anymore,” Witter said. “There has been increasing safety concerns. These roundabouts will help by getting (motorists) traveling slower.”

There were eight serious injury crashes in less then five years in the curve at Twin Lakes Road and County Road 40, and even straightaways caused problems for drivers, especially when speed, weather or drinking were a factor. Four serious vehicle crashes resulted in a fatality.

Sherburne County plans on working in close coordination with the city of Elk River on the planned improvements.

Witter wrote in the county’s application that the improvements are necessary due to site-specific safety issues that exist on County Road 13. He described the road as an open and inviting, spacious corridor with traveling speeds that are in excess of the posted and advisory speeds.

“This has resulted in lane departures and head-on collisions, resulting in four fatalities since 2013 at County Road 40,” he said. “Additionally, there was one fatality just south of the intersection of CSAH 33 in 2017.”

County Road 13 serves as a major corridor providing connectivity for freight across the central metro area from Highway169 to Interstate 35.

“The corridor is experiencing bottlenecks at the intersections with CSAH 13 at County Road 40 and CSAH 33,” Witter stated.

The roadway at County Road 40 has an existing average daily traffic volume of 6,200 vehicles per day with a 20-year projection of 16,000 average daily traffic.

The roadway at County Road 33 has an existing average daily traffic volume of 5,300 vehicles per day with a 20-year projection of 16,000 average daily traffic.

The crash frequency along this section of CSAH 13 at the intersection of County Road 40 is almost 13 times higher than the statewide average for similar roadways, with a critical rate of almost 24 times higher than the statewide average.

The spacing of the two intersections is approximately a half mile. The need for corridor mobility is essential for the safe and efficient travel for freight and commuter traffic. The associated improvements will promote safe travel through traffic flow continuity and speed management that is achieved through the installation of roundabouts.

The purpose of the proposed improvements to the intersections will alleviate existing and future traffic safety concerns along CSAH 13 corridor. The project will improve traffic operations at the intersections and improve the level of service concerns with the increase in projected traffic volumes.

Witter said the objective of the project is to address today’s safety and operational issues, while being proactive in promoting the development that will occur in the eastern end of the county.

Accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists will be incorporated into the design and construction of both intersections including ADA compliant amenities.

This project will improve safety through the installation of single lane roundabouts. Travel speed will be reduced as a result of the traffic calming effect of the entrance geometry and urbanization of the roundabout.

The number of conflict points is reduced and head-on and right angle crashes are eliminated. The crashes that remain are side swipe and angled collisions, thus reducing the severity of the impact. The traffic operations of a roundabout will reduce the delay that other intersection operational measures are not able address.

Additional safety measures include the installation of lighting at the roundabout. Lighting will allow the driver to recognize and identify that the vehicle is approaching the roundabout. The intersection sight distance concerns are reduced with the elimination the left turn movement and associated conflict.

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