Posted 5/5/21

in the boundaries of the study area, those study boundaries defined in more detail below. Projected with a total cost including engineering and other fees of $50 million, the future arterial road …

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in the boundaries of the study area, those study boundaries defined in more detail below. Projected with a total cost including engineering and other fees of $50 million, the future arterial road would seek to alleviate congestion on local roadways, with the main driver of the study for a future roadway to be developed within the City of Cottage Grove being that there is a lack of such arterial roadways in the southwestern area of Washington County at present. Much like blood vessels in the human circulatory system, a carefully planned and interconnected network of roads with sufficient passing room is needed to keep traffic flowing smoothly, both now and into the future. Failing this, bad things can happen.

With the draft report begun in the fall of 2020 following a series of public open houses in 2019 and a workshop from February 2020, the County worked with several partners in the study for a southwestern artery to ease future traffic flow, including Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Grey Cloud Island Township, and the South Washington Watershed District. Divided into three segments on topographical and geographical separation, the future arterial would be a total eight driving lanes across counting both ways, with 10-foot walking trails on either side and a ten-foot minimum clear zone around power line tops. The road would require a 180-foot-wide right-of-way to pass through the area, much of which is owned by 3M or otherwise private property. Traffic is expected to reach up to 8,000 vehicles daily on 100th Street if the arterial is built, with minor arterials already present in the region.

The study area for the major arterial road is bordered on the north by County Road 39, on the northeast by Highway 10/61, the east by County Road 19, and on the South and west by the Mississippi River. After received feedback from the community including several meetings with stakeholder 3M (through whose land the road would pass) it was proposed that two potential arterial routes be preserved.

The first would include a route through the Mississippi Dunes Golf Course Property owned by Dunes LLC, with a second route along Grey Cloud Trail. The two alternative endings for the arterial would connect to a more or less straight line divided into segments and extending from the Innovation Road interchange before connecting to 100th Street near Jamaica Avenue, thence following the existing 100th Street alignment, merging with a final segment ‘H,’ this last segment being flexible, to connect with one of two alternative endings as stated above, proceeding out to Grey Cloud Island.

As part of the long-term arterial construction plans, the existing 100th Street alignment would be turned over by the City to Washington County. Billed as “a very useful planning tool to utilize” as South Washington County develops, the study for council review and approval considered many other details, including but not limited to the following:

• Anticipated development areas in St. Paul Park

• Consideration of interactions of the Canadian Pacific and Burlington Santa Fe railroads (at grade, overpass, and underpass) with the planned arterial.

• Connections with Grey Cloud Island, with current connections subject either to flooding risk or else “functionally obsolete” and “fracture prone;” and,

• The environmental impact of creating more “impervious” (water-shedding) roadway in the area.

Performance measures were then developed to evaluate each alternative route, with options graded with + (meets project goals), – (does not meet project goals), and o (partially meets project goals), with the three different marks being given for categories including ‘existing commercial and industrial impact,’ ‘residential impact,’ ‘travel time’ (all but one option passed this hurdle), ‘total cost,’ and ‘total cost to the city.’ From this system of grading the last two routes emerged, the first recommended option earning four ‘o’ marks and one ‘+’ mark, while the other approved route earned four ‘+’ marks and one ‘o’ mark, with those contenders obtaining just one ‘-’ or “does not meet project goals” grade mark, eliminated from consideration.

The outcome of the Council meeting was unknown at press time.