The Prior Lake City Council has approved a design plan for a rebuilt County Road 42 that could inconvenience nearby businesses — against the recommendations of city and Scott County engineers.
The City Council voted 3-2 on Monday in favor of an option that will close the connection between Commerce Avenue and County Road 42. The chosen design, one of five potential options, replaces an entry point to nearby businesses on Commerce and Boudin Street with a cul-de-sac, instead of other options that would have sent more cars into the nearby Rutgers residential neighborhood.
Critics say the city’s chosen design will complicate traffic to about 40 nearby businesses, which include dentists and orthodontists, a license bureau, and retailers.
“I think the outcome was a very, very unfortunate decision and a very, very unfortunate process,” said Jack Haugen, who owns the nearby Commerce Building and an insurance agency inside it. “There is a risk that businesses will close or lose clients, patients and customers … [and] they may choose to relocate.”
Prior Lake’s vote is considered “municipal consent” on the project, and the design is final unless the Scott County Board decides to overturn it. The county has been planning for a decade to rebuild the stretch of County Road 42, a critical artery in Scott and Dakota counties, near Hwy. 13.
Construction of the $12.7 million project is scheduled to begin in 2018. Between 1,000 to 1,500 cars a day travel the stretch where County Road 42 intersects with Hwy. 13.
Council Member Mike McGuire and Mayor Ken Hedberg voted against the chosen design in favor of others that would have left the connection between Commerce Avenue and County Road 42.
“Now, there’s only one way out, which will be very congested, and I can just see people cutting through [the Rutgers neighborhood],” McGuire said. “Sure, [now] I’ve had a lot more calls from the business people that I should have heard from earlier.”
Residents of the nearby Rutgers neighborhood have for months been vocally contesting two of five other options that would potentially require razing homes.
Now that it has secured consent from Prior Lake, Scott County plans to finalize construction plans this summer and acquire necessary property by the fall, according to assistant highway engineer Curt Kobilarcsik.
“We are under the gun to move forward with the project,” Kobilarcsik said. “We felt we were balancing the regional needs of the highways 42 and 13, and that we were providing retail and commercial access while also separating residential access as much as we could.”