Should Kwik Trip get a turn lane or not?Published 9:35am Friday, August 31, 2012
Opposing viewpoints for a planned Kwik Trip gas station on Bridge Avenue took center stage Thursday during a joint Albert Lea-Freeborn County workshop to discuss concerns for the street.
On one side were the recommendations of a joint city-county committee that met earlier this week; on the other was Freeborn County Commissioner Dan Belshan and a small group of residents.
Should truckers coming off Interstate 90 access Kwik Trip using a turn lane, or should they take Sykes Street?
The company has announced plans for a $5 million development, including both unleaded and diesel fuel, but it has been waiting to begin construction until after it hears back about whether a proposed right-turn lane into the property will be approved. The turn into the property would be available to semis driving south on Bridge Avenue.
By the end of the meeting, it remained unclear as to how Freeborn County commissioners may vote on the potential right-turn lane. As the road authority, the commissioners are slated to vote on the issue in their upcoming meeting on Tuesday.
“We don’t want to delay this any longer,” Belshan said to a crowd of about 35 people.
Commissioner Christopher Shoff said the committee, made up of two commissioners, two councilors, the city and county engineers, the city manager, the county administrator and the executive director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, was not in favor of the right-turn lane. The group cited safety concerns, the recommendations of a new report released earlier this month by a consulting firm that studied Bridge Avenue, and the concern for creating an additional access into the property. The last time a new access point was granted was in 1989.
“The more access points we have on a corridor, the higher your crash counts are,” said County Engineer Sue Miller.
She said the street is already heavy on access points.
She expressed concerns that semis lining up to turn into Kwik Trip would back up traffic through the Bridge Avenue and Sykes Street intersection, which in the future may have a traffic light. She asked the elected officials to make their decisions with forethought.
Businesses at the Sykes corner are Hy-Vee, Arby’s, Wells Federal Bank and the future Kwik Trip property.
Belshan said he did not think the right-turn lane is as big of a safety concern as was being presented. He cited recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Transportation for length of turn lanes and said he thought this would comply with those recommendations.
The right-turn lane is also contingent on whether the city vacates the frontage road in front of the property. If it is not vacated, the turn lane would not work.
Kwik Trip Real Estate Development Manager Wade Dumond said the company has been holding off on building a new store at the location for the last year and a half until the traffic study was completed.
“We are in the process of filling up our 2013 schedule,” Dumond said. “We would like to build one here.”
The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners is slated to vote on the access point during its upcoming Tuesday meeting.