Council Approves Woodbury Drive Expansion Plans

The Woodbury City Council on Wednesday approved the project's main design parameters. What do you think of the plans?

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 council voted 4-1 on the project's broad strokes, with Councilman Paul Rebholz against, and the body was unanimous on two other measures that move the project forward.

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.

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Paul Whackernutz June 15, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Well said. The frustration with this project is the apparent complete detachment (except for councilman Rebholz) of the city and county elected officials from this project, and the dismissive attitude of the staff of resident concerns. While I don't expect the mayor or councilmembers to be "down in the weeds" engineers, they have heard enough from their constituents that they should be demanding changes in the plan from the unelected staff that are apparently in control of this project, rather than just asking questions about it, e.g., "Is it true that ....?" (and "challenge" doesn't mean the patty-cake Q&A that seems to be the norm with these guys). This will happen again when the Bailey Road reconstruction planning starts. Time to make some changes now via the ballot box. Lisa Weik has to go. And I'd start picking off council members, too, who don't listen (only one is up for re-election this year), and thanking the ones who do (Rebholz's frustration with his do-nothing peers and their at-the-ready rubber stamps was apparent).
Kris Janisch June 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM
The county says they pretty much have to open up that road to four lanes. What other options would help your concerns? That's the first time I'd heard someone suggest a berm or sound wall...
Bob June 15, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Berms and/or sound walls were requested at the first public design meeting. Subsequent meetings, after the second, had the county replacing the berm/walls with trails and commenting that "---it is not going to happen happen".
Kris Janisch June 15, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Did they say why? Was it cost or would it require too much land acquisition or something?
Bob June 15, 2012 at 05:59 PM
In those early discussions there was a lot of smoke and mirrors. No reason was given but it could have been the cost and the need for trails and ponds to pacify the Greens.


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