After months of discussion, several public meetings and one “,” the Woodbury City Council on Wednesday approved the fundamental elements of the Woodbury Drive expansion project.
That includes four lanes from Park Crossing to a quarter mile south of Bailey Road, roundabouts at the Lake and Bailey intersections, trails on both sides of the street, narrower shoulders and lanes, and about $1 million in landscaping work.
The county's $13.3 million roadwork project, which has encountered challenges because of the narrow right-of-way in that area, is expected to begin in the spring of 2013. The city will pay about a quarter of the cost.
Rebholz has made clear his problems with the project, and on Wednesday reiterated his stance that shoulders are not needed between Lake and Bailey roads. He said he was fine with narrow lane widths, as they would likely slow down drivers.
He said he sees no reason why the city should try to rush people between Cottage Grove and Lake Elmo, and also noted his concerns for motorists trying to enter Woodbury Drive from Antrim Road.
The councilman said he decided long ago that the project “is not going to be perfect,” though he did favor trails on both sides of the road—he’s heard from residents who worry about crossing at the roundabouts, and the new paths will further connect the city’s trail system.
Rebholz also asked about a of the corridor and hopes it brings the limit there to 45 mph. He also wondered why there hasn’t been more concern by residents over noise.
Still, he said, it’s “incredibly important that we get this project moving.”
Two residents spoke on the matter during Wednesday night’s meeting at .
Richard Caughron, who lives on Antrim Court, said it's contradictory that officials , which would seem to go against the project’s stated purpose of safety.
He also said trails aren’t needed on both sides of the road.
“You’re trying to shoehorn too many things into a ,” Caughron said.
A trail is necessary on both sides of the road because without it cyclists would have to bike into right turn lanes, City Engineer Klayton Eckles said. Also, if there were just one trail, it would likely mean the road would be closer to homes on one side of the road than the other, raising fairness issues.
“We don’t necessarily gain a whole lot by eliminating a trail,” he said.
Al Rudnickas, president of the Wedgewood homeowners association, agreed that trails aren’t needed on both sides of the road, but also relayed that residents have been confused regarding county communication about easements for the project.
Cory Slagle, an engineering and construction manager for Washington County, said some those easements have changed, and if homeowners weren’t alerted during the latest round of notices, they likely won’t be directly affected.
Rudnickas also said a $30,000 figure for assessments on the association should be a “negotiating item,” and noted that the group already maintains a portion of city property in the area.
Wednesday night’s approval allows the county to move into the next phase of design work, Eckles said. Much of the detail has to do with landscaping. Plans call for a 1,000-foot, 10-foot-tall retaining wall along the property, and about 500 trees will be planted, giving the corridor a “parkway feel," he said.
Parts of the median will also feature plantings, Eckles said.
That “parkway feel” should also slow down drivers, City Administrator Clint Gridley said.
“The more open it feels, the faster the speeds go,” he said.
Next, the council will hold an Aug. 8 public hearing on the project.
Check out the PDF with this story for further specifics.