The City of Plymouth will work with Hennepin County regarding negotiations for the jurisdictional transfer of County Road 47 to upgrade the corridor and make it safer for residents and pedestrians.
The Plymouth City Council authorized the negations to take place after a review of a corridor study by Hennepin County of the 4-mile roadway between County Road 101 and County Road 61/Northwest Boulevard.
Ward 4 Councilmember Jim Prom voted against negotiations, stating he didn’t support the possible jurisdictional transfer from the county to the city due to the financial obligations the city would then have in upgrading and maintaining the corridor.
Prom acknowledged concerns expressed by residents regarding traffic and pedestrian safety along the corridor but said it was county’s responsibility to address those issues, which he sees as increasing due to the growth in Medina and Corcoran.
“The county should step up,” he said.
Public Works Director Michael Thompson presented the corridor study, which was done throughout the past year with the county, residents and the neighboring cities of Corcoran, Medina and Maple Grove. The goal was to garner data and feedback to help develop a long-term vision of the corridor.
The study showed areas of concern including missing sidewalk or trail connections, pedestrian crossings and limited site lines.
“We’re trying to find a solution that meets and overcomes some of these deficiencies,” Thompson told the council.
Due to the growth within the area, urbanizing this rural roadway has been a top priority for the city, Thompson said. He recommended a jurisdictional transfer be considered.
Thompson stated a jurisdictional transfer is appropriate as the corridor has more characteristics of a city street than a county roadway and plays a minor role in the county roadway system, but plays an integral role in the city street system with local land access.
Thompson also provided two concept plans focusing on the long-term vision to address resident concerns. These plans would encourage slower speeds, provide space between modes, add curb and gutter, add turn lanes to accommodate volumes and speeds, and retain one travel lane in each direction.
Both plans show the addition of trails on one or both sides of the two-lane road. One of the plans also includes a shoulder for on-road biking.
If it remains a county-owned roadway, the focus would likely be on pavement rehabilitation in the range of $4.9 million to $6.5 million, whereas $29 million would be needed for a full reconstruction to implement the vision.
Existing traffic volumes along the corridor vary between 4,000 vehicles per day on the west end to nearly 10,000 vehicles per day on the east end. According to the study, 40% of traffic was those passing through the corridor, while 60% was local traffic.
Community feedback garnered as part of the study showed resident concerns, particularly at Troy Lane.
Several comments described challenges turning to and from Troy Lane due to road curvature and speeds of vehicles. It was also noted that pedestrians don’t like crossing there due to the high speeds of vehicles.
Three neighborhood residents spoke during the council meeting, calling for more pedestrian access and crosswalks to make the corridor more pedestrian-friendly and allow for greater access to nearby amenities, including parks, schools and the Northwest Greenway.
Resident Amy Sundet addressed the safety of the roadway as it relates to traffic and speeds.
Speed limits were a critical component in addressing the safety of the roadway, Sundet said, who shared that her vehicle was rear-ended on that corridor due to “curvature, excessive speeds and lack of adequate turning lanes.”
“And frankly, I think it’s deplorable that Plymouth continues to support growth and development along this corridor without addressing the shocking and dangerous roads,” she said.
Posted speed limits are 45 and 50 miles per hour, which are set by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Any changes to speed limits would require a speed study at the request of the road authority, which is Hennepin County.
An analysis of crashes along the corridor was completed by county staff and included 61 crashes from 2017 to 2019, the majority of which were non-injury crashes and none involved pedestrians, according to Chadd Larson, an engineering consultant for the study.
Mayor Jeff Wosje agreed that this corridor is the responsibility of the county, “but I don’t see them making any changes to this roadway anytime in the near future,” he said. “We owe it to our residents in that area that we have to explore something.”
He also acknowledged the financial implications of the city taking on additional costs associated with a roadway.
“We also have to take into account we’re building a new community center; we are making big financial commitments to two firehouses. We have to understand if we’re going to take on additional costs, how that’s going to fit in with our CIP and future budget year,” Wosje said.
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