For about an hour in the early morning and again mid-afternoon one of the busiest intersections in Redwood Falls is at DeKalb and Cook streets. For approximately nine months of the year school bus, student vehicle and other traffic converge in that area. Combining it with pedestrian traffic, one can see there is the potential for safety issues.
Yes, said Willy Rabenberg, Redwood County highway department engineer, there have been vehicle (including school bus) and pedestrian accidents at that intersection.
So, when it was determined the storm sewer that runs along DeKalb Street needed some attention, and subsequent pavement work would also be required on that stretch of roadway, county and city leaders determined it made sense to take a look at that busy intersection as well.
A traffic study was conducted, and this past Tuesday (Jan. 31) leadership from Redwood County, the City of Redwood Falls and the Redwood Area School District met in a work session to talk about the best option for that intersection.
“There were three options presented,” said Rabenberg, who added the study had been conducted by Bolton and Menk, Inc., an engineering and surveying firm located in Sleepy Eye.
The options included:
• Doing nothing – simply maintaining the intersection as is when the construction work is conducted
• Establishing a left turn lane on DeKalb Street
• Incorporating a roundabout at that intersection. Rabenberg said the addition of a left turn lane would increase the cost of the project by approximately $200,000, with the roundabout addition having an additional $350-400,000 price tag.
Federal funding has been secured for the project, and Rabenberg said additional funding would be requested when a decision has been made regarding the intersection. No, said Rabenberg, traffic signals nor an all-way stop would be a proper solution, adding if federal safety funds were used they could not be spent on either of these options.
However, he added, federal safety dollars could be available for other options, including a roundabout. Putting in left-turn lane is not ideal, said Rabenberg, as it extends the distance pedestrians would have to safely cross.
“For pedestrians, it looks like the roundabout is the safest alternative,” said Rabenberg. In the next couple of months, local leaders will come up with the best option for the intersection, and Rabenberg said it appears the project will be a cost-sharing effort between the city and county with federal funds also being used.
“What we don’t want to do is rush into this,” said Rabenberg, adding it is important to come up with the best decision in terms of public safety but to be financially responsible, too.
There are some issues that need to be resolved as the process moves along, said Rabenberg, adding he felt the meeting between the local leaders was a constructive one that demonstrated the groups are willing to work together to find the best solution.