The city of Mound is taking the bull by the horns in initiating the first steps for fixing up the bike and pedestrian crossings that span one of the busiest sections of Shoreline Drive.
Council members were quick to acknowledge the safety issues for the small stretch of Shoreline that extends from Auditors Road and the Dakota Trail crossing westward to the crosswalk at Belmont Lane and approved 5-0 Oct. 27 a safety improvement study to determine best course of action.
Council member Paula Larson said she sees it firsthand “day after day after day” that a high volume of traffic motors by while folks using the trail, often with kids in tow, are often “oblivious” to the risks in crossing there.
The two crossings at the eastern neck of downtown are only about a block apart, which adds to the problem, said Brian Simmons, city engineer for Mound. To further complicate it, the two crossings also have two sets of rules: pedestrians enjoy right of way at city crosswalks, but trail crossings give right of way to motorists.
The widening of Shoreline to five lanes at Auditors Road, exactly where the Dakota Trail crosses, also doesn’t help matters, said Simmons. “What it ends up being is a sea of pavement for pedestrians to cross.”
“If you’ve walked across that recently, you will notice how uncomfortable that feels when you turn and you look and you see traffic speeding at you and you’re hoofing it. And it looks like it’s a long way across to the other side because it is,” he said.
Options that will be considered as part of the study include either consolidating the two crossings, likely at Belmont, or narrowing the width of Shoreline Drive. Both options would be likely to propose the addition of some kind of signalization, whether a flashing beacon or added stoplight. A more unlikely fix for the area, due to its physical size, would be the construction of a pedestrian over- or underpass.
The sharp S-Curve in this section of Shoreline Drive as well as sight line constraints imposed by the parking deck, post office and Commerce Place shopping center would likely require any beacon-type signal system to have an overhead arm so that it is visible from a greater distance.
Adding a stop light presents its own challenge. The Shoreline and Commerce intersection lies just one-tenth of a mile west and makes the potential for a traffic pileup in between very high, said Simmons.
“We’ve had multiple discussions of ‘well, what if, what if, what if.’ Everybody wants to bring a different solution to the table. The idea of completing this study would be to align all of the interested stakeholders,” he said.
The city had met with officials from both Hennepin County, which has jurisdiction over Shoreline Drive, and Three Rivers Parks District, which owns the Dakota Trail, but was unable to secure outside funding for the study.
The study will be done by Bolton & Menk for a cost not to exceed $12,689 and then submitted to the county with the city’s hope for some kind of risk-reducing improvement.
“We will beg, borrow, plead—whatever the case is—in order to get our point across and get some help with this,” said Mayor Ray Salazar.