A roundabout in downtown Eagan?
It's possible, according to Dakota County Traffic Engineer Kristi Sebastian.
For months, county officials have been developing improvement options for a stretch of Pilot Knob Road between Yankee Doodle Road and Central Parkway. With congestion that leaves motorists idling at crossroads for minutes at a time or forces them to make risky U-turns, and one intersection with higher-than-average crash rates, the area is one of Dakota County's busiest—and most troubled—corridors.
"The U-turns, the back-up and the collisions are what we’re focusing on in terms of safety," Sebastian said. At a recent open house held in Eagan to address traffic issues along Pilot Knob, most attendees were in agreement that there were "serious problems" in the area, Sebastian added.
U-Turns, Congestion, Collisions
The issues with that segment of Pilot Knob are numerous, according to Sebastian and Eagan City Engineer Russ Matthys.
During peak hours, traffic turning onto Pilot Knob from sideroads like Marice Drive and Norwest Court has trouble finding gaps in the congestion, leading to long wait times for motorists. Additionally, there is a lack of local road connections between the smaller streets in the area, which drives more motorists onto Pilot Knob, according to the findings of a traffic study recently published by Dakota County.
Between 2007-2011, county officials have also recorded 33 crashes in the corridor, more than half of which took place at the intersection of Pilot Knob and Central Parkway. The intersection of Pilot Knob and Norwest Court also has a crash rate that exceeds metro averages for similar intersections. That crossroads also claimed one life during a fatal collision in 2008.
In 2011, the average daily traffic volume for that portion of Pilot Knob was 16,200 vehicles, but that number may grow to as many as 28,000 cars per day by 2030, according to county estimates.
Road Improvement Alternatives
Eagan's ring road system, completed last year, has helped draw traffic away from the away, Matthys said, but city and county officials believe more corrective action is needed.
Already, county officials have developed four separate alternatives for improvements to improve traffic flow and safety, Sebastian said. The alternatives include the installation of a roundabout at Pilot Knob and Central Parkway, the construction of a through street connecting Norwest Court and Sherman Court and the addition of medians, lanes and turn lanes on Pilot Knob.
Last week, the city and county hosted an open house at the to discuss each of the alternatives and get input from local business owners and residents.
County officials will continue to revise the alternative plans and present a preferred recommendation this fall, according to Sebastian. The recommendation may go before the Eagan City Council as early as October, according to Matthys.