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Wells Fargo fights plan to eliminate road access in Eagan

  • Article by: SUSAN FEYDER
  • Star Tribune
  • January 15, 2013 - 11:53 AM

Dakota County officials seeking to ease traffic congestion on a busy stretch of Pilot Knob Road have drawn the ire of some businesses on the corridor, chiefly Wells Fargo.

The county's traffic study includes a recommendation to eliminate a driveway entrance off Pilot Knob just north of Yankee Doodle Road that feeds directly to the bank. Access to Wells Fargo would be pushed further to the north to Pilot Knob's intersection with Norwest Court.

At a meeting last week with the Eagan City Council, Dakota County Traffic Engineer Kristi Sebastian said the driveway closure and other proposed changes are aimed at improving congestion and safety on Pilot Knob between Yankee Doodle and Central Parkway. Traffic on the stretch has grown significantly over the years and is expected to continue to increase, she said.

The county study also recommended adding a third southbound lane on the stretch, adding some left turn lanes and reconfiguring others.

In a Jan. 4 letter to Eagan officials, Wells Fargo expressed its opposition to the plan.

"We appreciate the challenges policymakers face in balancing future transportation needs with current and future growth and jobs in Eagan. However, closing this connection would impair access for our customers, and it would harm our property value and profitability," said the letter by Robert Hoke, manager of the Eagan office.

Ellen McInnis, Wells Fargo director of Twin Cities government relations, told council members that the Eagan office has been there for 30 years and is its most active in Minnesota.

McInnis also noted that in addition to the bank, the driveway change would affect two other neighboring businesses -- a daycare center and a hotel. An attorney representing the hotel also told council members his client opposed the driveway closure.

Mayor Mike Maguire and City Council members also expressed concerns about the impact of the driveway change on Wells Fargo and other businesses. They also appeared taken aback when county officials said some work on the road could begin as soon as next year.

Maguire said it was premature to lock in changes for the road until more is known about plans to redevelop a site on the west side of Pilot Knob soon to be vacated by Lockheed Martin.

Minneapolis-based developer CSM Corp. purchased the Lockheed site. It initially proposed building a retail complex on the parcel.

Those plans now appear to be in limbo.

Late last year CSM withdrew its application for the project, saying it wanted to see the outcome of the Pilot Knob traffic study. Meanwhile, Eagan has hired a consultant to study development concepts for the site.

Susan Feyder • 952-746-3282

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