Mayor: Molly Park
Councilmembers: Mike Hovey and Richard Williams
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
Engineer: Don Sterna
Fire Chief: John Maczko
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
Councilmember JoAnne Wahlstrom arrived at 6:50 p.m. and Councilmember Cathy Steven Bulach was absent.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Park opened the meeting at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of discussing the proposed MnDOT Improvements to Trunk Highway 110.
Councilmember Williams moved to call the meeting to order, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (3-0)
Mayor Park asked that MnDOT representatives be allowed to present an overview of the project.
Councilmember Williams moved to adopt the agenda as amended to include a presentation from MnDOT representatives, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (3-0)
Mayor Park welcomed those present and introduced staff members; City Engineer Don Sterna, City Attorney Tim Kuntz, and City Clerk/Administrator Cathy Iago. She asked the MnDOT representatives and audience members to introduce themselves.
Traffic Safety Engineer Derek Leuer, Traffic Engineer David Sheen, Project Manager Molly Kline, and South Metro Area Manager Jon Solberg were present representing MnDOT
Bernie and Linda Tuohy, Task Force Member and Sunfish Lane residents
Arnie and Deni Svendsen, Sunfish Lane residents
Wayne Ogorek, representing St. Anne’s Church on Charlton Road
Ibby Hammett, Charlton Road resident
Melanie Bellomo, Sunfish Lane resident
Andrea McCue, Sunfish Lane resident
Kitzie Nye, Charlton Road resident
Keith and Teresa Syvertson, Sunfish Lane residents
Meg Gehrig, Charlton Road resident
Kathy Newmark, Sunfish Lane resident
2. DISCUSS PROPOSED MNDOT IMPROVMENTS TO TRUNK HIGHWAY 110: MnDOT PRESENTATION: Project Manager Molly Kline explained that the project area includes Highway 110 between Hwy 55/Hwy13 and I-494. She reviewed the summary of work; replace pavement, drainage infrastructure, pedestrian crossings and signing, extend turn lanes and modify access. She noted that the project would include ADA updates and a County trail and stated the project is schedule to being in 2017. She distributed documentation on the Highway 110 Project.
Engineer Kline displayed a diagram showing the original proposed design for Charlton Road and also a diagram with the amended design for that intersection. She indicated that the amendments to the design were included after the drive-thru with the City Council and Task Force members. She also displayed the improvements proposed at Mendota Road which include the addition of a flashing yellow arrow at the signal for left turns.
Kathy Newmark asked if the left turn lane at Mendota Road would also be extended and Engineer Kline responded yes.
MnDot representatives acknowledged that they did not have data to support the safety of U-turns at intersections.
Deni Svendsen asked if drivers would understand the flashing yellow light concept.
David Sheen explained that along with the flashing yellow light to indicate a turn is allowed, signage is installed to describe that left turns are allowed when the yellow light is flashing.
Councilmember Williams pointed out that this type of signal has been installed in other areas and works well.
David Sheen advised that this system was first installed 5 or 6 years ago and is now standardized.
Kitzie Nye asked if Mendota Road drivers would be able to make a right turn on red onto Hwy 110 or if right turns on red would be eliminated.
Engineer Kline responded that the right turns on red would be allowed, but MnDOT would monitor the area to determine if they would be prohibited in the future.
There was discussion relating to how the signalization would work at Mendota Road. Engineer Kline explained that the signals are triggered by pressure plates.
Keith Syvertson asked if he would be above to maneuver a U-turn with a boat attached to his vehicle and if the turning radius would be widened to accommodate this.
Bernie Tuohy also noted that contractors with lawn equipment may also have to navigate a U-turn.
Engineer Kline explained that currently MnDOT is reviewing a 10 ft. shoulder and offered to further review the intersection to determine if a vehicle and boat could maneuver the U-turn.
Andrea McCue questioned if a U-turn near Sunfish Lane would be safer that crossing two lanes of traffic to make the same maneuver.
Engineer Kline explained that during peak traffic times the Sunfish Lane residents would have to wait for a gap in the traffic created by the signal at Delaware Avenue. She further advised that there is not sufficient gap time during rush hour traffic to warrant the access point near Sunfish Lane.
Engineer Kline reviewed the improvements proposed at Carmen Lane and the Daycare Center and Church in Mendota Heights. She reviewed the Crash Information Data and traffic volumes on Highway 110 as listed on page 3 of the handout.
Linda Tuohy asked if the speed limit would be increased on the road.
Engineer Sheen stated that due to the spacing in the Sunfish Lake area, the speed limit would remain at 55 mph.
Engineer Kline explained that MnDOT is working on a systematic approach to safety that evaluates intersections based on their characteristics that put it at risk for a serious injury or fatal crash and attempting to mitigate those characteristics.
Jon Solberg explained the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths program that was created in 2003 to reduce deaths.
Derek Leuer, Traffic Safety Engineer, advised that the program uses the 4 E’s; Education, Engineering, Enforcement, and Emergency medical and trauma services. He pointed out that the program is becoming a national model for other states. He explained that MnDOT determined that the crash history along was not enough to identify high risk roads and developed a "roadway risk" checklist with the high risk factors. He advised the high risk factor checklist includes; at-grade intersection, close intersection spacing, median width, on/near a curve, and traffic volumes over 20,000 vehicles per day. He noted that 60% of fatal or serious injury crashes are right-angle crashes. He explained that by removing the conflict points at an intersection, crashes could be substantially reduced.
Councilmember Wahlstrom arrived at 7:10 p.m.
Engineer Leuer also discussed the changes that were made for emergency response vehicles in the cities of Wilmar and Cologne, Minnesota. He noted that the intersection in Cologne was designed to allow emergency access across a raised median, however, the Fire Department determined if was safer for the vehicles to use the RCI U-turns than to cross at the intersection.
Mayor Park pointed out that Sunfish Lake does not have fire hydrants in the City and therefore response time is crucial.
Engineer Leuer explained that MnDOT could work with the City and Fire Department to discuss access in more detail.
Engineer Kline stated that concluded the MnDOT presentation and offered to respond to questions.
City Engineer Sterna stated that in his opinion the updates proposed to Charlton Road with the raised median, offset left turn lanes and removal of the island would greatly improve the safety of that intersection. He further noted that he discussed the possibility of a U-turn with MnDOT and they offered to review his request.
Bernie Tuohy pointed out that there is a rise in the road traveling northbound that hinders sight lines and suggested MnDOT review the area.
Keith Syvertson asked how many cars would be able to queue at the turn lane.
Engineer Kline explained that the turn lane would be 500 ft. and should accommodate10 cars.
Ibby Hammett asked if Charlton Road would prohibit vehicles from driving straight across Highway 110.
Engineer Kline responded yes and noted that there would be a raised median at the turn area.
Engineer Sterna stated that the Fire Chief had expressed concerns related to the raised median at Charlton Road impairing the emergency vehicle turnaround.
Fire Chief Maczko stated that he would prefer to have flexible bollards at the cross-over locations so that the fire trucks could drive thru to cross the highway. He noted that Sunfish Lake is a high risk city since there are no fire hydrants and response time is limited due to filling the tanker trucks and limited access due to turnaround time.
Engineer Sheen stated he talked to Mendota Heights firefighters to discuss possible solutions and they indicated that a portion of the highway could be closed to accommodate the emergency vehicle access or a hydrant could be installed near the intersection of Charlton Road and TH 110.
The Fire Chief explained that it would be highly risky to other traffic to close a portion of the highway. He also explained that the fire hydrant should not be located too close to the intersection since the trucks have to fill at the hydrant and then turnaround to access the roadway. He commented that it may be easier if the hydrant were further from the intersection and if the trucks could use St. Anne’s Church parking lot for turning around.
There was discussion relating to whether or not the installation of a fire hydrant would have any impact on insurance rates.
Wayne Ogorek, representing St. Anne’s Church, explained that the church parking lot should be able to accommodate emergency vehicle turnaround with to the recent improvements to the lot.
Engineer Kline explained that a closed cross-over does not necessarily mean it would be closed to emergency vehicles and advised that MnDOT would be willing to work with the Fire Chief to reach a viable solution.
Wayne Ogorek asked if paving of Charlton Road from TH 110 to just past the church property remains an option.
Engineer Sterna explained that the City is still discussing options for improvements on Charlton Road. He advised that he would not recommend partnering with MnDOT to pave the intersection at TH 110 and Charlton Road at this time since it may have to be re-worked if the remainder of the road were to be improved.
Mayor Park noted that MnDOT had reviewed the changes at Charlton Road and the rationale for the changes at Mendota Road. She also noted that MnDOT also reviewed the proposed changes to the Sunfish Lane crossover. She asked if there were any comments from the Citizen Task Force.
Bernie Tuohy, representing the Citizens Task Force, thanked the City Engineer and MnDOT for addressing the Task Force concerns and revising the improvements to the Charlton Road intersection. He explained that the Task Force prepared a recommendation for an RCI adaptation at Sunfish Lane, dated March 10, 2016 and explained the proposed solution is similar to what MnDOT is proposing for Carmen Lane, whereby the U-turn occurs away from the busier more accident-prone intersection. He noted that the elimination of westbound access to Sunfish Lane via the crossover substantially reduces the risk within the median and that the Task Force believes that the lowest total risk would be presented by modification of the access point for Sunfish Lane entrants by avoiding sending drivers to the intersections of more frequent conflicts. He also noted that the installation of the RCI turnaround at this location could facilitate emergency vehicle ingress and agrees in a time-critical manner.
Jon Solberg, MnDOT Metro Manager, thanked the Task Force for their recommendation and stated that MnDOT would evaluate the proposal to determine if it meets the needs of the community.
Mayor Park explained that the next item on the agenda would be to determine future action on this matter. She summarized by explaining that MnDOT offer to review the Citizen Task Force proposal for the RCI at Sunfish Lane. She asked
Engineer Sterna stated that MnDOT should review moving the RCI half way between Sunfish Lane and Mendota Road. He asked if this information would be available to present to Council at their April 5 meeting. He noted that no formal resolution is required to approve the proposed MnDOT improvements, however, the City wished to provide some formal support of the finalized improvement plan.
Mayor Park asked if Task Force member Bernie Tuohy should be the contact person for MnDOT questions relating to their recommendation and Mr. Tuohy responded yes.
Engineer Sterna suggested that the Fire Chief may wish to analyze the possible installation of one or two fire hydrants on Charlton Road near the church and research the possibility of using the church parking lot for emergency vehicle turnaround. He asked Mr. Solberg the time-frame for ordering the proposed improvements.
Engineer Kline explained that the bids would be distributed in February 2017 and that the project should be finalized by November 2016.
Mayor Park asked if MnDOT could complete their review and respond to the Task Force recommendation for Sunfish Lane by April 5 and Engineer Kline stated she would attempt to have the information available by April 5.
Attorney Kuntz asked MnDOT why the City of Sunfish Lake was not asked to take formal action on the project similar to the City of Mendota Heights.
Engineer Kline explained that if MnDOT has to acquire permanent right-of-way from a municipality or if they are changing the access capacity, they must ask for formal action. She noted that MnDOT is not altering access or right-of-way in Sunfish Lake, but permission is required from Mendota Heights as the project impacts a municipal street in that City.
There was discussion relating to the definition of access. The Land Surveyor representing MnDOT explained there had been several lawsuits filed by cities attempting to define right-of-way and access relating to highway improvements and the courts have always ruled in favor of MnDOT.
Mayor Park asked if there was any further business for discussion and hearing no response, called for adjournment.
3. ADJOURN: Councilmember Hovey moved, to adjourn the Special Meeting at 7:50 p.m., seconded by Councilmember Williams and carried. (4-0)
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Molly Park, Mayor