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Stop signs live on after Woodbury intersection is cut off

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON
  • Star Tribune
  • January 4, 2013 - 5:59 PM

The city of Woodbury is at a crossroads over what to do about a set of two stop signs along busy Valley Creek Road.

The signs are left over from an intersection that now no longer exists. They stand atop a rise along the east-west-running Valley Creek Road in the eastern part of the city, remnants from when Cottage Grove Drive once connected there. With the arrival of the Stonemill Farms housing development, Cottage Grove Drive was cut off, and the main four-way intersection shifted to Settlers Ridge Parkway, to the east.

So the signs no longer control an intersection, but they do slow the east-west traffic on the hill in the 50 mile-per-hour speed zone -- assuming drivers see and obey them.

When the city recently proposed removing the signs and replacing them with warnings about approaching blind driveways and a reduced speed limit, it posed a dilemma: Neighbors who live nearby fear for their safety if they are removed, but others question the need for the signs and see them as an impediment to smooth traffic flow.

Norb Huber's driveway is about 800 feet to the east of the sign, and simply getting into and out of it is fraught with peril.

"[Cars] can come with quite a bit of momentum by the time they get to me," he said. "A car coming 800 feet down a hill with about a 50-foot drop -- we're talking about creating quite a bit of hassle."

His neighbor to the west of the sign has a driveway only about 475 feet away. "For him, it's a crapshoot every time he comes out."

It's not just he and his neighbors at risk, Huber added. Joggers, pedestrians, bicyclists would also be at greater risk from cars speeding over the hill if it had no stop signs.

A lot of cars coast through the signs now, and Huber observes an average of at least a couple of vehicles a day that simply ignore it. He sees the problem.

"The difficulty with the sign being there is it perpetuates a blatant disregard for the law," he said, not just at that site on the hill but at other stop signs where Valley Creek Road intersects with Settlers Ridge Parkway and at Manning Avenue. "It's definitely a fiasco."

Traffic on Valley Creek Road along that stretch has doubled from 5,000 vehicles a day in 2006 to 10,000 today, according to city figures, which was part of the impetus for removing the signs. With anticipated development in the northeastern part of Woodbury on the horizon, it's expected that traffic numbers will only increase.

All these issues were raised when the proposal came before the City Council at a recent workshop session. Council members informally decided to put off the proposal to remove the signs, and instead will consider a full study of traffic in the area, said David Jessup, Woodbury's engineering and public works director.

The scope and cost for the study is yet to be determined but will likely include examining both current and projected traffic volumes, he said. It will look at both Valley Creek Road and nearby streets.

"The study will give us all the options," Jessup said. Those could include keeping the signs, getting rid of them, or even shaving down the hill to improve the troublesome sight lines.

A decision on the study will likely come later this year.

Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @StribJAnderson

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