Lakeville backs plan to four-lane County Road 50 in Dakota County

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2013 - 1:53 PM

The city adopted a Dakota County-led study recommending the expansion of County Road 50 into a four-lane divided road in 2017.

If the Lakeville City Council and Dakota County have their way, County Road 50 will receive a major makeover in 2017, transitioning from a three-lane design to a four-lane divided roadway.

Earlier this month, the city of Lakeville adopted a Dakota County-led study on the County Road 50 corridor from County Road 60 to Dodd Boulevard that recommends expanding the road, with the caveat that more work be done to address the concerns of business owners on a stretch from Ipava Avenue to Icenic Trail.

The report also recommends moving forward with replacing the stoplight at the intersection of County Road 50 and County Road 60 with a multi-lane roundabout.

The city of Lakeville requested that Dakota County complete the study, which began about a year ago, for several reasons, said City Administrator Steve Mielke.

The first was to address doubts about whether the roundabout was a suitable option. Residents wondered whether there would be large enough gaps in traffic to turn onto the busy road without a stoplight a couple of miles to the north, Mielke said.

As construction of the roundabout — a project approved by the city and county in 2011 — was discussed, residents of the nearby Jaguar Avenue neighborhood and families and staff from Kenwood Trail Middle School brought up their own access issues with County Road 50, he said.

Thus, the county undertook an in-depth study of the corridor, said Brian Sorenson, an assistant county engineer and the study’s project manager.

“We really haven’t done a study exactly like this anywhere in the county,” he said. The study was novel because it attempted to model traffic patterns in different situations and in great detail using a roundabout, he added.

Four lanes in the future

Critics of the roundabout thought it might make it even harder to turn onto County Road 50, said Chris Petree, Lakeville’s public works director.

But the study found that the roundabout’s effect on the gaps would be “negligible,” Mielke said, and roundabout construction will start next year.

Instead, “What will make the changes in gaps is changing the design of the roadway,” Petree said.

The present road will reach its capacity in a couple of years, simply due to Lakeville’s growth, Mielke said. Expanding to four lanes would almost double its capacity.

Currently, it has three lanes, one going in either direction and a third in the middle for turning left from either lane. The new design would have two lanes going either direction with a center median.

In adopting the study, the City Council is confirming that County Road 50 should become a four-lane road, Mielke said. The project will take three years, with design work in 2015, land acquisition in 2016 and construction in 2017, he said.

The project is included in a draft of Lakeville’s capital improvements plan, and Dakota County also has it written into its 2017 plans, Petree said. The next step is for those plans to be approved, along with financing options, he said.

Another of the study’s recommendations is already underway.

During the roundabout discussion, residents of the Jaguar Avenue neighborhood on the southwest side of County Road 50 said it took too long to find a gap in traffic to turn onto County Road 50, especially when turning left. Because of the study, the city and county approved widening Jaguar Avenue to create a right turn lane. Crews are working on it now, and access will improve “almost immediately,” Petree said.

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