Young girl's death should lead to safety improvements.
It's a two-lane stretch of road that has concerned residents of Hennepin and Carver counties for many years. With no stop signs, stop lights or crosswalks, the high-traffic state Hwy. 101 between County Road 62 and Hwy. 5 in Chanhassen can be difficult to cross.
So difficult that some believe the road conditions were a factor in the recent death of a 12-year-old girl who was trying to get from one side of the highway to the other. That tragic accident should motivate the Minnesota Department of Transportation to take action as soon as possible.
Aimee Marie Trudeau was trying to cross Hwy. 101 near Sandy Hook Road with her bicycle on May 30 when she was struck and killed by a car going south. The state highway is the border between Eden Prairie and Chanhassen and runs through a residential area. Many of the homes have direct access to the busy thoroughfare that connects two other high-traffic roads -- Hwy. 5 and County Road 62, which is also known as the Crosstown.
In 1999, when traffic volumes were even higher along that stretch, a state study was done. However, residents, MnDOT, the two cities and Carver and Hennepin counties didn't agree on what action to take. A number of neighbors opposed widening the road because it would take out trees and move their property lines, so nothing was done. Now the various jurisdictions must unite and make safety improvements to the road.
To that end, MnDOT is currently conducting a speed and traffic study of the area and is expected to meet with the cities and counties next month to review the results. In addition, the city of Chanhassen received state funding for turn lanes and trail improvements at the intersection of 101 and Pleasant View Road. That construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
Still, those improvements don't include a stop sign, signal or other safety measures that could make the busy roadway safer. Public works and law enforcement officials from the area say other changes should be considered, including narrowing the road to reduce speed, adding a third lane for turns, adding pedestrian islands or cross walks, and reducing speed limits. The state could also examine regrading the road and cutting back foliage to improve site lines at intersections.
It's clear that there are number of ways to make the crossing safer. It's up to state and local officials to act quickly.
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