Territorial Road in Maple Grove isn’t under construction, but it’s closed anyway — and not just with signs but with concrete barricades blocking the way.
The lack of roadwork and a 4-mile detour has riled some residents of the nearby Lennar at Sundance Woods neighborhood who have flooded City Hall with calls and e-mails objecting to the barriers.
“It has been contentious,” said Ken Ashfeld, Maple Grove’s public works director.
He said the closure is necessary for safety while the city of Dayton works on sewer and utility projects on nearby Rush Creek Parkway.
That Dayton project on the eastern end of Rush Creek Parkway, one of two entrances to the Sundance Woods neighborhood’s 175 homes, means residents must go to and from home via Territorial Road.
But city officials say that presented another problem: The eastern portion of Territorial Road between Sundance Woods and the closest north-south thoroughfare, Fernbrook Lane, wasn’t suited for that much traffic. It’s too narrow, has poor sight lines and lots of driveways, and wasn’t built for trucks or extra traffic. Ashfeld said the volume of traffic on the road jumped from about 1,000 to 2,000 vehicles a day when Dayton closed the entrance to Sundance Woods for the Rush Creek Parkway project.
So the city closed that portion of Territorial Road and set up the detour.
When drivers kept disregarding the “Road Closed” signs, the city moved in with the concrete barriers on Territorial Road this week. It’s expected to remain closed for another five to six weeks.
“It’s human nature to want to take the shortest and most convenient route, even if not the safest,” Ashfeld said. “The concrete barriers went up because we had to take action.”
Resident John Hellmuth said the closure of Territorial is unnecessary and seems arbitrary.
He said it leaves drivers coming and going from Sundance Woods with two undesirable choices: follow Territorial west to busy County Road 81 where there is no traffic light and “making a left turn is taking your life in your hands” or follow the posted detour that adds about 4 miles to each trip.
“The city said there was too much traffic and speeders [on eastern Territorial Road],” he said. “If they want to put police out there to catch speeders or lower the speed limit to 20, I welcome that. It seems like a better alternative.”
Ashfeld acknowledged that the Territorial/County Road 81 intersection has safety problems and directing traffic there is not ideal. That’s why he said motorists should use the posted detour, even if it is longer.
“We feel their pain, but taking the marked detour is the solution to safety,” he said.
Maple Grove Mayor Mark Steffenson said closing Territorial east of Sundance Woods was the correct decision.
“We needed something to protect the welfare and safety of those who live on that road,” the mayor said. The detour “might be inconvenient, but it is a very safe route. I think the city made the right decision.”