Study finds Lakeshore Drive safe for pedestrians, motorists

Published 8:01 pm Friday, July 6, 2018

A recent study by the city of Albert Lea reportedly found Lakeshore Drive is a relatively safe place for motorists and pedestrians.

The results of the study were released Thursday, less than four weeks after residents expressed concern about the safety of pedestrians on the road last month at a June 11 City Council meeting. They expressed support for installing a gate in the neighborhood to prevent speeding motorists from striking pedestrians.

Engineering staff reportedly placed traffic counters at three places to obtain traffic counts and speed data from June 20 to June 22.

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Albert Lea police also performed 20 directed patrols along Lakeshore Drive between June 12 and June 28.

“The results indicate that 85 percent of vehicles are traveling at or below 20 mph — posted speed limit is 15 mph,” said Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams in a report. “The Police Department did issue a number of warnings as part of their directed patrols. It is also a very low volume roadway with less than 200 vehicles per day.”

Police evaluated the four-year crash history on Lakeshore Drive and reportedly found “one minor crash along the street that involved one vehicle backing into another,” Adams said.

“There have been no past reported incidents in the timeframe that indicate pedestrian safety is a problem along Lakeshore Drive,” Adams said. “Lakeshore Drive currently functions safely in its existing configuration. If the council would like to pursue options to close Lakeshore Drive to vehicle traffic, engineering can prepare cost estimates for a future meeting.”

Albert Lea 3rd Ward Councilor Jason Howland said he does not support putting up barriers to the road to protect pedestrians from motorists.

“It’s always been a road, and, in my opinion, it needs to to remain a road,” he said. 

Howland said though he understands there are safety concerns in the neighborhood, there are other such roads in the city without a gate.

“I see no reason why that road should be gated off,” he said.

The residents June 11 described a portion of Lakeshore Drive as a dirt alley with sharp turns, making it difficult for motorists to see pedestrians.

Howland said though safety is important, there is not enough information to show that closing or restricting the road is needed beyond anecdotal evidence. Concerns about drivers not obeying the speed limit should be addressed by law enforcement, not by restricting access to the road, he said.

First Ward Councilor Rich Murray said he did not want to take a position on the issue until the council discussion Monday. He said he understands concerns from pedestrians in the area, adding the council is trying to do its “due diligence” to decide whether the road needs to be restricted to motorists. He noted a traffic study indicated that a lot of motorists do not speed through the area.

“We’ll talk about it as a council Monday night and see it where it goes from there,” he said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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