Changes at Dodd Road, Decorah,
Wagon Wheel Pagel Rd. Intersection
In the 5 weeks since "safety improvements" were installed, there have been two accidents in this location -- each flattening the warning signs at the ends of the new pedestrian island. That is to be compared with no record of any pedestrian accidents in 60 years, and two non-injury car accidents there in the last 3 years (no evidence of others in the last 60 years).
Update 1/22/19 -- Testimony at the latest 2040 Comp Plan hearing indicated residents take issue with the Transportation section of the proposed plan, which asserts that improvements on Dodd at Decorah and Wagon Wheel would improve pedestrian safety, when evidence (as above) shows that is not accurate language. The discussion will continue at the next Planning Commission meeting on Feb 26. Please attend if you share these concerns about implying the area is now safer.
Update 1/18/19 -- Changes made by MnDOT summarily eliminated both north and south by-pass lanes, and added a mini pedestrian island. Many residents believe that the changes were ineffective in providing any serious pedestrian safety, and that they created safety issues for vehicular traffic - not the least of which was that the island itself was a safety hazard, and would be struck and run over by vehicles. It did not take long for that prognosis to be realized as you can see from the attached photos, showing the ineffective warning sign flattened, and bracketed by skid marks on the right (west) side of the island and just off the island on the left (east) on Dodd Rd (it is likely that a pedestrian on the island might not have fared better than the sign).
Update 1/7/19 -- The recent work done on Dodd Rd. was presented to the public by MnDOT (before the work started) as a resurfacing upgrade that included some signal adjustments. When completed, it also included a pedestrian island at Dodd and Decorah, and it eliminated “by-pass” lanes at that intersection for both north and southbound lanes. While the public was completely unaware of these changes, and while the city council was aware of the proposed island, no one was aware that the by-pass lanes were to be eliminated.
The asserted motivation for the island was to make a safer pedestrian crossing of Dodd from Decorah to Wagon Wheel. This crossing is part of the trail system through the city.
It should be kept in mind that MnDOT had not made either traffic or pedestrian counts for this intersection before or since installing the island and eliminating the by-pass lanes, nor was it aware of, nor had it consulted the traffic study conducted by the city and completed in the winter of 2017-18, the N-S Mobility Study which specifically addressed this intersection among others. And no citizens residing near this intersection – those most affected by these changes – were canvassed prior to the implementation of these intersection changes.
It should also be kept in mind, that for the last sixty (60) years there have been virtually no vehicle accidents, and no pedestrian accidents at or in the immediate vicinity of this intersection, and none as far as anyone can recollect that resulted in an injury.
The by-pass lanes that existed before these MnDOT changes permitted southbound vehicles on Dodd to make right turns to Wagon Wheel and left turns to Pagel without interfering with the smooth flow of southbound traffic on Dodd, and the northbound by-pass lane permitted right turns to Decorah without interfering with the northbound traffic flow on Dodd. Maintaining traffic flow on Dodd Rd., to avoid gridlock and rear end collisions was one of the important issues addressed in the City’s N-S Mobility Study.
Both before and after the MnDOT changes there existed and still exists a left turn lane from southbound Dodd to Decorah. At this meeting on January 2, 2018, a MnDOT representative suggested that left turns from Dodd to Pagel be shut off, and that the residents who live in the over 100 homes now using Pagel (and the delivery and service vehicles that serve them) instead drive down Decorah, Apache etc. to reach Hazel Court, Havenview, Mohican La., etc.
A representative from the Federal Dept. of Transportation present at the meeting insisted that by-pass lanes pose a potential hazard, and the citizen objections here were simply resistance and objection to change. The citizen response to that was to point out that “if it’s not broke let’s not fix it”, and the clear evidence here from the 60 year’s history of a very safe intersection clearly establishes that the intersection needed no fixing.
In its new configuration without by-pass lanes, and no left turn lane to Pagel, making a left turn to Pagel from Dodd, which is still permitted, will require all traffic behind the turning vehicle to wait until there is an opening in the flow of north-bound traffic…and the city’s own traffic study shows that because of the Vikings complex that traffic will continue to increase. It was suggested that another option was a left turn from southbound Dodd to Keokuk. But there is no left turn lane from Dodd to Keokuk, so that would merely move the problem from Pagel to Keokuk.
The island and the removal of the by-pass lanes reduces the exposure of pedestrians to an accident while crossing at this location, while the removal of the bypass lanes increases the likelihood of gridlock and rear-end collisions arising from southbound Dodd traffic making right hand turns on Wagon Wheel and left hand turns to Pagel, as well as right hand turns from northbound Dodd to Decorah.
MnDOT representatives and the FedDOT representative all agreed that left hand turn lanes improve safety, but no solution for the safety issues created by the unilateral action of MnDOT in adding the island and eliminating the by-pass lane has yet been found or suggested. However, the council indicated that it expects more effort is necessary to find a satisfactory solution.
While the decision to make any further changes is up to MnDOT, the city council can influence their decision, so it is important that citizens express their views to the council members and Mayor, and SHOW UP at meetings where the issue is discussed to provide support to those who are speaking on their behalf, or to speak themselves.
Elizabeth Petschel; firstname.lastname@example.org (651) 454-3256
Neil Garlock; email@example.com (651) 775-3850
Jay Miller; firstname.lastname@example.org (651) 994-0482
Joel Paper; email@example.com (612) 237-1133
Ultan Duggan; firstname.lastname@example.org (651) 452-5179