A few years ago, a dispute over street improvements in northeast Edina led a City Council member to dub feuding neighborhoods “the Hatfields and McCoys.”
The feud may be heating up again. A city plan to reduce traffic on Sunnyside Road has raised concerns among nearby residents of the Morningside neighborhood, who fear that their streets will get the spillover.
Especially concerned are residents of W. 44th Street, which runs roughly parallel to Sunnyside and is slated to get hundreds or even thousands of additional vehicles a day.
“It does not seem fair to punish the residents on 44th Street in favor of the residents on Sunnyside,” 44th Street resident Connie Soteropulos wrote in an e-mail to Mayor James Hovland. “We’ve been down this path before with the Country Club residents wanting traffic diverted and soundly won that battle. I believe you will find we are ready to do the same again.”
At issue is a major road project along Sunnyside and in the White Oaks neighborhood scheduled to begin next year. Plans call for complete street reconstruction in the area between France and Grimes avenues. As part of the project, Sunnyside will be narrowed with bumpouts and other traffic-calming measures designed to make it a less speedy route.
The goal, according to city Engineering Director Chad Millner, is to shift traffic from Sunnyside to 44th Street.
“We’ll hopefully persuade vehicles from entering this neighborhood and [instead] using 44th Street, which is our state aid highway,” Millner told an October meeting of the Edina Transportation Commission. “We want cars up there.” Sunnyside carries more than 2,900 vehicles a day. Currently, 44th Street carries about the same number, Millner said.
Jennifer Janovy, a commission member and Morningside resident, said she hopes neighbors can work together to reach a solution acceptable to all.
“There’s no reason for this to become a street-against-street issue,” Janovy said. “Thinking of it that way is not, in my mind, what Morningside is about.
“My hope is that we can come up with something that meets a lot of goals people along Sunnyside have — a calmer street, a street that feels safer for pedestrians — without diverting traffic onto any other streets.
“The idea of intentionally diverting traffic from one street in the neighborhood to another street with the same residential characteristics — it just doesn’t make sense,” Janovy said. “There has to be a different way to address the question of too much volume on Sunnyside.”
A public hearing on this and other upcoming road projects is scheduled for Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 4801 W. 50th St.