Council reviews Collegeview Road proposal

January 25, 2019

Reconstruction plans for Collegeview Road Southeast may need to go back to the drawing board.

While the work is being led by Olmsted County Public Works, a section of the street will be turned over to the city after work is done, which gives the Rochester City Council a say in the $7 million project.

At this point, the council appears split on the proposed design, which would maintain four travel lanes.

“The question that immediately comes to my mind is: Are we building what we will want there in 20 years?” Council Member Nick Campion said, noting he’s not arguing for or against the proposal presented Wednesday.

Other council members advocated for changing plans.

“To me, I would see this as a two-lane road,” said Council Member Shaun Palmer.

Council Member Michael Wojcik echoed the desire to drop the number of travel lanes as the street passes between Rochester Community and Technical College and Olmsted County’s campus of buildings.

The project area extends from 19th Avenue Southeast to East Circle Drive. The city’s portion of it will eventually be the section west of Silver Creek Road, where a roundabout is planned to replace existing traffic controls.

Dillon Dombrovski, city engineer, said the county’s section west of the new roundabout won’t add pedestrian and bike amenities planned for the city’s portion, but he noted the proposal is to maintain at least four vehicle lanes throughout the project, based on expected traffic increases.

“I’m not one that’s going to advocate for more lanes than needed,” he said, but noted he sees a need in this case.

With an estimated 12,000 daily vehicle trips today, he said the number is forecasted to grow to nearly 18,000 per day by 2040. He said 15,000 daily trips is the benchmark threshold for requiring four lanes.

Council Member Michael Wojcik questioned the numbers, noting more trips can be accommodated on a well-designed street with two regular traffic lanes and a turn lane, and it would provide additional benefits.

“It’s widely understood that a three-lane road design will be vastly safer than a four- or five-lane design,” he said.

Dombrovski said Collegeview Road is unique due to peak-hour travel as commuters enter and leave the downtown area with limited access points for east and west travel, but he noted efforts have been made to increase safety in the plan.

Campion said the city must determine whether the existing route will match future plans, pointing out alternate designs and future development could encourage commuters to take alternate routes.

Council Member Randy Staver said he favors the four-lane design, noting it offers some compromise by narrowing travel lanes to make room for buffered bike lanes and other amenities.

He said if traffic grows as predicted, the four lanes will be needed and it could be costly to redesign the street for the future growth.

Wojcik questioned the stance, predicting fewer lanes could reduce maintenance costs and reduce overall expenses in the long run.

Dombrovski said the project doesn’t require a council decision at this point, and he will take the council’s comments to county staff for consideration. He said he will bring more information to the council for future discussions on the road design.

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