Death brings calls for change along Hwy. 101 in Carver County

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 3, 2012 - 9:38 PM

Residents of the area say a girl's death while crossing the road highlights the need to make the west-metro thoroughfare safer.

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Cars on Hwy. 101 passed by a memorial for Aimee Trudeau near Sandy Hook Road in Chanhassen. The 12-year-old died after she was hit by a sport-utility vehicle while crossing the highway.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Chanhassen and Eden Prairie residents who live along a busy stretch of Hwy. 101 are calling for road safety improvements after a 12-year-old girl was hit and killed as she walked her bike across the highway last week.

Aimee Marie Trudeau was crossing Hwy. 101 near Sandy Hook Road about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when she was struck by a southbound vehicle, according to the Carver County Sheriff's Office. She died later that night at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. She had been wearing a bike helmet.

For Aimee to have crossed at a crosswalk, she would have had to go at least a mile, area residents said.

"I believe that if there were safe places to cross the road, this tragedy could have been prevented," said Kim Birdwell, 45, who had known Aimee since she was in kindergarten. Birdwell said she doesn't let her own 11-year-old daughter ride her bike to school because there isn't a safe way to cross the highway.

Hwy. 101, which is the border between Eden Prairie and Chanhassen, runs through the middle of a residential area. A two-mile section from County Road 62 to W. 78th Street lacks any stop signs, crosswalks or traffic lights that might force drivers to slow down.

Residents say the situation has made the stretch treacherous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Drivers often speed down the thoroughfare and sometimes use turn-only lanes to pass other cars, they say.

Amy O'Neill's 12-year-old son crosses Hwy. 101 to the corner where Aimee was hit to catch the school bus every morning, she said. "He had crossed about eight minutes before the accident took Aimee's life," said O'Neill.

To make the stretch of highway safer, O'Neill suggestedthat a stoplight be installed or the speed limit lowered.

The highway's risk factor is no secret to public officials.

"We have been pushing for improvements," said Paul Oehme, Chanhassen's director of public works and Chanhassen's city engineer.

The city has received funding for improvements for the intersection of 101 and Pleasant View Road, Oehme said. The plan includes adding turn lanes and trail improvements, which the city expects will help safety and traffic circulation, but no signal. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

Aimee's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Wooddale Church, 6630 Shady Oak Road, Eden Prairie, with visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in Albin Chapel, 6855 Rowland Road, Eden Prairie.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495; Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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