Golden Valley’s Agenda 21 Utopia

March 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment


By Andrew Richter

God help us;

Golden Valley has known for years that Douglas Drive was in need of repairs. After six years of work, the city is moving into the final design phase. Completion is expected in early 2015.

Timeline

In 2008, the city developed a group that would be known as the Douglas Drive Advisory Committee comprised of members of the Planning Commission and City Council.

Wow, what a committee! New ideas there right?

Its goal was to conduct the Douglas Drive Corridor Study Report to learn what type of need there was for improvements to this roadway. The committee held several meetings to uncover concerns regarding Douglas Drive from Highway 55 to Medicine Lake Road. According to Eric Seaburg, engineer, residents were and remain supportive of the project.

“Douglas Drive is a major north to south corridor in the city which was improved in the 60s,” he said. “The community has been very interested in long-term improvements to the corridor. In particular, feedback from the public has stressed the importance of the following: a safe and accessible corridor for pedestrians and motorists alike, a vibrant and aesthetically pleasing corridor and a corridor that can accommodate the changes in traffic and land use over the next 50 years.” What they found were concerns regarding pedestrian accommodations, age and condition of the road, presence of overhead utilities and other infrastructure issues.

The issues needed addressing as Douglas Drive is a county state aid highway and carries as much as 9,100 vehicles per day near Highway 55 and 10,000 vehicles per day near Medicine Lake Road.

In 2009, Golden Valley received more than $1 million Transit for Livable Communities grant given by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to put towards a preliminary project design and early right-of-way acquisition. It was then that the city and county agreed to construct a dedicated bike lane to run between Luce Line Regional Trail and Medicine Lake Road. In addition, a pedestrian walkway will run on the east side of Douglas Drive from Golden Valley Road to Duluth Street.

Oh yes a bike lane and a pedestrian walkway…..comes in real handy in January! Hmmmm this road handles 9100 cars but these idiots are more concerned about bike lanes.

In 2010, Golden Valley City Council requested that the project be included in the Hennepin County Capital Improvement Program. The request was approved and included in 2016 program.

Give me that free money!

In 2011, the preliminary design was approved and the city held its last open house for that segment of the project.

Golden Valley residents gather to learn about the Douglas Drive Corridor project and its early phases of design. (Submitted photo)

Golden Valley residents gather to learn about the Douglas Drive Corridor project and its early phases of design. (Submitted photo)

Now, Public Works staff is in the process of completing the right-of-way acquisition which includes creating the final design.

“This road was built in the 60s and won’t be touched again for probably another 50 years” said Jeannine Clancy, director of Public Works. “This is a 50 year project and this is how the county will look at things.”

About the project

While the project is being funded by both Hennepin County and Golden Valley, the design is strictly the responsibility of the city. Once the final design is finished it will be approved by the county and move forward with accepting bids for construction.

It is important to note that the number of lanes and layout of the lanes vary by section.

Douglas Drive from Highway 55 to Golden Valley Road will be comprised of four lanes total –two northbound and two southbound– with a median in between.

Why do we need a median? Talk about unnecessary!

There will be a multi-use trail on either side of the road that will connect to the Luce Line Regional Trail. The path would be separated from the street by green space and trees. “I think one of the benefits is it really pulls the traffic away from the pedestrian facilities,” Clancy said.

Oh that makes me feel tingly all over.

The section between Golden Valley Road and Duluth Street, will include three total lanes – one northbound lane, one southbound and a shared turn lane in the middle. This section of the corridor will feature two, six-foot-wide on-street bike lanes on either side of the street, a six-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side of the road and the continuation of the 10-foot wide multi-use trail on the east side.

Ahh, the Agenda 21 inspired complete street!

The roadway between Duluth Street and Medicine Lake Road will appear a bit different with four lanes total – one northbound lane, two southbound lanes and a shared turn lane in the middle. The additional southbound lane was needed for increased volume of traffic near Medicine Lake Road.

Huh? What the hell is that?

The roadway will be expanding westbound as it makes the least impact on area residents and homeowners, however the city has purchased several properties along the roadway to make way for the additional space desired.

Public Works provided renderings of the anticipated outcome of sections of Douglas Drive. The segment pictured above illustrates the four-lane layout designed for Douglas Drive from Highway 55 to Golden Valley Road. (Submitted photo)

Public Works provided renderings of the anticipated outcome of sections of Douglas Drive. The segment pictured above illustrates the four-lane layout designed for Douglas Drive from Highway 55 to Golden Valley Road. (Submitted photo)

“In very few locations are we actually shifting the roadway to accommodate more roadway,” Clancy said. “It’s more for pedestrians and trails. (The paths) are currently narrow. To add the trails to be of good size and safe we had to move things out.”

Another aspect of the project will include burying the current overhead utilities among other necessary adjustments.

Roundabouts

New to Golden Valley will be the introduction of roundabouts. Although some are not sold on the idea of roundabouts in their neighborhood, city staff assures everyone they are much safer than traditional intersections.

Not sold on the idea? What do you want to bet this passes 5-0.

When approaching a roundabout from any direction the driver is always going to move only to their right while looking for traffic only to their left. Vehicles driving within the roundabout have the right-of-way while those on the streets will wait to enter when there is a gap in traffic.

Which could take forever with no street lights!

Roundabouts pose a much smaller risk to both drivers and pedestrians. A roundabout has fewer conflict points –a traditional intersection has 32 where as a roundabout has only eight. Pedestrians must only look one way for traffic and has a refuge island in between streets making it possible to cross only one lane of traffic at a time.

The typical speed limit for roundabouts is 15 miles per hour virtually eliminating high speed crashes and allowing for a faster reaction time to avoid collision.

The project will consist of only two roundabouts located at the intersection of Douglas Drive and Golden Valley Road and Douglas Drive and Sandburg Road.

The intersections of Douglas Drive and Medicine Lake Road and Douglas Drive and Duluth Street welcome too much traffic making a roundabout a poor decision in those locations.

Can someone tell me where they get these stats?

Next steps

The project is expected to cost roughly $20 million. Hennepin County has budgeted $10 million to put toward the project and an additional $9.5 million will be provided by Golden Valley.

City staff have recommended that the money be taken from Xcel Energy franchise fees. It should be noted that the cost of the project may fluctuate, and the franchise fees will remain in effect until the project is repaid.

Then they will spend the money on something else. The fees will never go away.

Public Works staff will continue to create the final design throughout this year with the expectation to have it complete in early 2015. Bidding for construction companies will begin in early 2016 and construction will run 2016-17.

This rendering illustrates the unusual four-lane layout with two southbound lanes, one northbound lane and a shared turning lane in between. Although it is an uncommon layout, city staff believes it will be beneficial to Golden Valley. (Submitted photo)

This rendering illustrates the unusual four-lane layout with two southbound lanes, one northbound lane and a shared turning lane in between. Although it is an uncommon layout, city staff believes it will be beneficial to Golden Valley. (Submitted photo)

The city will host another neighborhood meeting for residents to see the progress that has been made later this year.

“I think it’s going to look real nice when it’s done,” said Mayor Shep Harris.

And I’m sure Mayor Boy Wonder won’t hesitate to take credit and deflect blame.

Steve Schmidgall has been tracking the project for some time.

“I just want to say I’ve supported this project ever since I learned about it on the Planning Commission,” he said. “Looks like I’ll have to get reelected if I want to still be here for construction.”

Well you are certainly objective!

The remaining council members are also looking forward to the end result.

Yeah like their vote is in doubt.

As always Golden Valley and city council make me puke!

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Entry filed under: Agenda 21, City Government, Environment, Golden Valley, Hennepin, Mayor, Transportation. Tags: , , , , , .

Great Letter on Opat the Spender Property Taxes Anyone?

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