Council votes to place signs on Lakeshore Drive

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Signs will note road’s use by motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists


The Albert Lea City Council approved placing additional signs on Lakeshore Drive Monday.

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Councilors approved working with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership to install signs noting the road’s use by bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians, which would be near signs marking the area’s 15 mph speed limit. 

The measure passed by a six-to-one vote. Councilors Reid Olson, Robert Rasmussen, Larry Baker, Al “Minnow” Brooks, Rich Murray and Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. voted yes. Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland voted no.

Council action came more than one month after councilors voted to further evaluate possible changes on Lakeshore Drive, a road that residents have expressed safety concerns over.

Residents last month expressed support for installing a gate in the neighborhood to prevent speeding motorists from striking pedestrians.

Traffic counters were placed from June 20 to June 22 between Lakeview Boulevard and Garden Lane, North Lane and The Fairway and Robin Road and Richway Drive.

Albert Lea Director of Public Works Steven Jahnke said 227 vehicles traveled in the area between Lakeview Boulevard and Garden Lane on the busiest day, with an average speed of 15.4 mph. The minimum speed was 6.2 mph, and the maximum was 31 mph.

In the area of North Lane and The Fairway, none of the 157 cars traveled more than 30 mph. Twelve percent of vehicles were between 20 to 25 mph, and 60 percent traveled between 15 to 20 mph.

In the area of Robin Road and Richway Drive, 91 percent of the 95 vehicles traveled less than 20 mph.

Albert Lea police officers patrolled the Lakeshore Drive area 20 times between June 12 to June 26, stopping six vehicles for speeding.

Jahnke said the road functions safely in its condition, with the only documented crash in the last four years involving a bus backing into a parked vehicle.

He said police officers could conduct more traffic control in the area or implement gates to restrict traffic flow.

“That is not a recommendation, but that is one of the options the council could consider and look at further,” Jahnke said.

He estimated it would cost $160,000 to pave the area and more than $300,000 to make the road a 20-foot-wide, one-way thoroughfare.

Jahnke said adding signs to roads deemed safe is unusual.

“We don’t think the signs will hurt anything … the recommendation was that the roadway is operating safely as it currently stands, so typically you don’t add additional signs when there’s not a problem,” he said.

Brooks compared the proposed signs to ones placed on Fountain Street to make people aware of the community’s Blue Zones status.

Howland, who has spoken out against additional safety measures in the neighborhood because it has been deemed safe, again spoke against the plan.

“I feel like we’re trying to find solutions to a problem that the data says isn’t there,” he said. “So it does open a whole can of worms for other neighborhoods that think that their streets are not safe.”

Rasmussen said the signs would raise awareness to motorists that pedestrians and bicyclists use the road.

“This is probably not a typical road in our community,” he said. “This has definitely been designated as a walking and driving path, not necessarily a road, so I think there (is) some uniqueness to this. There are, in my opinion, several blind areas in it.”

In other action, the council:

• Amended the zoning map for properties in the Stables area being annexed from Albert Lea Township.

• Amended the zoning map for properties being annexed from Bancroft Township.

• Amended the city’s zoning ordinance so exterior string lighting can be installed at Eat’n Ice Cream Shoppe.

About Sam Wilmes

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

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