Motorists using Vicksburg Lane in Plymouth drive too fast and crash too often.
With the goal of reducing speeds and improving safety, the west metro city will put the heavily traveled north-south thoroughfare between Chankahda Trail and Old Rockford Road on a "road diet" this fall. Crews will restripe the road, shrinking it from two travel lanes in each direction to one with a shared left turn lane in the center.
"We have a safety concern related to crashes, and we have excessive speeding," said Deputy Public Works Director Chris LaBounty. In looking for solutions, "one that has been proven to work with this amount of traffic is a four-to-three conversion."
Between 10,000 and 13,000 vehicles a day travel on Vicksburg, where the speed limit is 45 mph on the north and south ends of the corridor and 50 mph in the middle. A study by consultant Alliant Engineering found that a majority of drivers exceed the speed limit by 5 to 7 mph. The report also found that from 2018 to 2022 there had been 103 crashes on the 3-mile segment that will get the new treatment. Finally, five of 11 intersections on the corridor had crash rates above the state average.
"We hear very regularly complaints from residents they feel uncomfortable leaving their neighborhood or entering their neighborhood," LaBounty said. "They also say they have visually seen near misses. I personally have seen videos where motorcycles or vehicles nearly got hit."
The restriped road, at a cost of $140,000, will include wider shoulders and dedicated right-turn lanes at 46th, 55th and 57th avenues. A four-lane configuration will remain in place at the signaled intersections of Vicksburg and Old Rockford Road, Schmidt Lake Road and Chankahda Trail.
LaBounty said the speed limit could drop from 50 mph to 45 mph between Schmidt Lake Road and 58th Place to maintain consistency along the corridor.
The changes, LaBounty said, are expected to reduce speeds by 5% and crashes by up to 20%.
The study found Vicksburg in its new configuration could handle current traffic volumes, but could exceed capacity in the 20 years. LaBounty said the pavement is in good shape now, but when it is due for a new surface the city could look at more right- and left-turn lanes, additional signals and other improvements.
Plymouth did a similar reconfiguration last year on Schmidt Lake Road between Peony and Fernbrook lanes and from Northwest Boulevard to Gleason Lake Drive. The results have been positive, LaBounty said.
"We think this is a cost-effective way to improve safety on this corridor with minimizing impacts to drivers," he said.
Hwy. 61 study begins
The Minnesota Department of Transportation will resurface Hwy. 61 from Interstate 94 to Lower Afton Road in St. Paul in 2027. The agency will host a meeting to discuss the project from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Battle Creek Recreation Center, 75 Winthrop St., St. Paul.