MnDOT explores third lane to Interstate 494
City officials are welcoming news that MnDOT will reconsider whether to add a third lane to Interstate 494 in Plymouth instead of a dynamic shoulder.
MnDOT was planning to start the $61.5 million project in July, repaving 494, adding a dynamic shoulder, repairing bridges and adding noise barriers. The widened shoulder would act as a temporary third lane during rush hour.
But now, state transportation leaders are reconsidering the addition of a general-purpose third lane to the interstate between Highway 55 to East Fish Lake Road — the only area in the 494 corridor with only two lanes.
"The Plymouth City Council has said all along that a permanent third lane is the right solution," Mayor Kelli Slavik said in a statement. "Our primary goal is congestion relief, but we believe a third lane is in the best long-term interest of taxpayers, commuters and businesses that need to deliver goods and services."
MnDOT officials say a dynamic shoulder would be a less expensive, temporary fix for the next 15 to 20 years and would give about 85 percent of the benefit of a third lane. According to MnDOT, the cost difference between a permanent third lane and a temporary dynamic shoulder is about $25 million. Any changes in plans would require Metropolitan Council approval.
An estimated 95,000 commuters travel that section of I-494 each day. By 2030, nearly 133,000 vehicles are expected to use the roadway each day.
Entries due for city's banner competition
Artists can enter Plymouth's eighth annual street lamp banner competition by Thursday, Feb. 20.
The deadline to apply for the competition, which will help beautify the streetscape with public art in the City Center, is 4 p.m. Thursday.
There are separate divisions for teens in grades 9 to 12 and adults ages 18 and older. The entries will be judged by the Plymouth Arts Council jury and selected artists will be asked to paint 2- by 4-foot versions of their original designs.
Three winning designs from each category will be displayed at Primavera and on lamp posts in City Center. First place will be awarded a $75 prize, second place will get $50 and third place will receive $25.
Skating team wins Midwest gold medal
Team Braemar, a skating group based at Braemar Arena, won gold in January at the 2014 Midwestern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championship in Illinois.
That first-place finish earned the team a trip to Italy this month as one of two U.S. teams in the junior division, competing against teams from eight countries. Team Braemar has represented the United States in the competition for eight consecutive years.
When they return to the United States, team members will go to Colorado to defend their Junior National title in the 2014 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.
A first! Edinborough Park ends 2013 in black
For the first time ever, Edinborough Park has ended a year in the black. The indoor park, which opened in 1987, turned a profit of $7,155 last year.
Edina Parks and Recreation Director Ann Kattreh attributed the profit to terrible spring weather in 2013, as well as higher ticket prices, making features like a pool and water fountain more efficient and finding a permanent tenant in the Edina Swim Club, which is paying $48,000 a year in rent. The city also has invested in the park, making it more accessible to the disabled, relining the pool and increasing marketing.
As recently as 2012, the park was losing about $400,000 a year.
Walk with the Mayor to be indoors on Feb. 22
Edina Mayor Jim Hovland will lead his monthly "Walk with the Mayor" indoors on Saturday, Feb. 22.
To promote Edina's initiative for a healthier lifestyle, each month Hovland is walking two miles with residents. Those interested in walking and talking with the mayor should meet at 9 a.m. at the Caribou Coffee inside Southdale Center, 5195 Southdale Circle.
During the Southdale walk, the group will talk about plans for redevelopment in the area and current events in Edina.
Veterans Memorial statue artist chosen
The Edina Veterans Memorial Committee has retained a foundry in Osceola, Wis., to design and cast the centerpiece of the Veterans Memorial at Utley Park.
A bronze eagle with a 6-foot wingspan sitting atop a wreath will be cast by Shoop's American Bronze Casting, Ltd. at a cost of $46,500.
The memorial will be dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The memorial committee is still raising funds for the project.
Thirty-two men from Edina who lost their lives during wartime will be individually recognized at the memorial. To learn more, contact Richard Olson at 952-915-4351.
Fire Dept. pioneers app to clear hydrants
The Richfield Fire Department has become the first in the country to work with SeeClickFix on their app called "SnowCrew." SnowCrew is a web-enabled, crowdsource application that uses volunteers to keep fire hydrants clear of snow.
Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch said snow-covered hydrants hamper firefighting operations. Residents who are willing to help neighbors with hydrant clearing can sign up at www.snowcrew.org.
Residents who are unable to clear their hydrant can report a covered hydrant via the SeeClickFix mobile app or on SnowCrew.org; once entered, neighborhood volunteers are notified via email that a nearby hydrant needs clearing. When a hydrant is cleared, it is reported using the SeeClickFix mobile app.
The SeeClickFix app is available for Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.
Home improvement fair set for Saturday
Homeowners can get ideas for home projects and get questions answered at the Home Improvement Fair on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd.
The free event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. More than 60 vendors will be at the fair, and there will be more than a dozen seminars on various home projects. Kids' activities will be offered, too.
For more information, go to http://bloomingtonmn.gov/cityhall/commiss/hra/homefair/homefair.htm.