Stop signs have popped up in peculiar places on a few residential streets in Edina’s Parkwood Knolls neighborhood. They are in the middle of the block, and are surrounded by barricades that slim down the road so only one vehicle can snake around them at a time.
Think of it as a flagger controlling traffic at a road construction zone, only without the flag-holding human present.
When the Nine Mile Creek bridge on Hwy. 169 closed in January and forced the 90,000 motorists who use the north-south span between Lincoln Drive and Bren Road to find alternate routes, many seeking a faster route simply ignored MnDOT’s posted detour and sought asylum on streets in the adjacent Parkwood Knolls neighborhood on the east side of Hwy. 169. It didn’t help that motorists relying on navigation apps were routed there, too.
In the days following the bridge closure — in place until October by the way — traffic was bumper to bumper on streets such as Malibu Drive, Parkwood Road and Dovre Drive during peak travel periods, so thick that residents had trouble backing out of their driveways. At other times, motorists were spotted blowing through stop signs and disregarding the speed limit. Even semitrailer trucks far too big for the neighborhood’s winding roads sought refuge there.
“It was an untenable situation,” said Karen Seay, who lives on Malibu Drive, one of the streets that has seen a fivefold increase in traffic since the Nine Mile Creek bridge closed Jan. 23. Counts last fall on nearby Parkwood Road at Parkwood Lane showed about 1,000 vehicles on the road each day. Counts taken Jan. 27 and 31 showed about 5,100 vehicles on the road not built to handle that volume, said Chad Millner, Edina’s engineering director.
As you can imagine, the burst of unwanted traffic got residents ramped up. They pleaded with the city to stop the influx of traffic.
The city on Feb. 2 installed what Millner describes as “traffic calming” measures. Midblock stop signs were put up on Dovre Drive between Parkwood Lane and Lincoln Drive; two on Malibu Drive; one between Park Terrace and Telemark Trail; one between Lincoln Drive and Park Terrace, and one on Parkwood Road between Telemark Trail and Parkwood Lane.
“When you have those issues, you lay out potential ways to deter or divert traffic,” Millner said. “We want to make it inconvenient for drivers to cut through.”
The goal is to put Hwy. 169 drivers on prescribed detours on the Crosstown, Hwy. 100 and I-494, or at the very least on arterial streets such as Vernon Avenue, Excelsior Boulevard, Gleason Road and Shady Oak Road. Millner said early returns show the midblock stop signs are having the intended effect. Semi traffic “is down quite a bit,” and traffic counts at Parkwood Road and Parkwood Lane dropped by 25 percent to 3,800 by Thursday, Millner said.
“Everybody is going to have some pain, but we are trying to make traffic levels acceptable for a local street,” he said.
Additional measures may include increased police presence, shoulder markings to provide 3- to 4-foot areas for pedestrians and short-term restrictions curtailing some movements into or out of the neighborhood.
Malibu Drive resident Katherine Larson said the calming measures have helped ease the traffic problems.
“It was a zoo, but I am impressed with what the city has done,” she said. “We are very pleased. They handled it very well.”
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