Robbinsdale Council changes one-way direction for third time

Traffic will be redirected for the third time since 2009 on one Robbinsdale street.
The council made the decision to turn  a one-way road back into a two-way road on 40th Avenue West and the 3900 block of Scott Avenue on Jan. 15.

City Engineer Richard McCoy said concerned residents approached the council in 2009 because of the number of cars traveling at high speed along the street. The council determined to turn the road into a north-easterly one-way.

In 2011, residents again approached the council, this time because property frontages for a number of townhome residents that reside on the alley-way had concerns. The city council reversed the one-way traffic set-up so it was west bound and south bound.

Townhome residents have found with the one-way change, they do not have front door access to their units, delivery drivers get lost, and often residents have to drive around the block to get in and out of their homes.

“Boiling it down is simple,” McCoy said. “There are three basic options the council could adopt: leave the traffic flow the way it is, reverse to how it was or make it a two-way.”

City engineers administered a traffic data project and found that the number of cars travelling in the alley have not substantially changed over the last year. Because of that, McCoy said there is not a large impact on traffic direction.

“There is no discernible impact for one-way traffic,” he said. “In my professional opinion, I would say you might as well turn it back to a two-way. People can get access as they see fit.”

Robbinsdale resident Brenda Woods approached the council and said her concerns regarding the one-way street lay with incoming traffic and drivers coming into the alley swerving.

“I never experienced that when the one-way was the other way,” she said. “My driveway is just beyond the corner and if someone is coming around, not even with excessive speed, they could run right into me.”

Speed was also a concern for a townhome resident who said he didn’t think one-way traffic was a solution for speeding.

“One way to fix that is to have delivery drivers know where to reach us,” the resident said. “Looking at GPS traffic maps, if one was to access a townhome, they have to come down 40th and it’s a ‘do not enter’ sign for a one-way. There are no alternate directions.”

While researching the topic, Councilmember George Selman said he became aware that two-thirds of units didn’t have parking in front of their units, and he felt that citizen concerns over delivery problems were legitimate.

“Some delivery people stop on Scott Avenue anyway and walk down,” he said. “At the end of it all, we received a petition and made the decision to change and we have a commitment to do this.”

Councilmember Bill Blonigan said the council should do what the professional staff suggests and turn the one-way into a two-way.

“I feel bad about going away from the commitment of a one-way for the people who live there, but things change,” he said. “Twenty-four cars go down that little section of Scott Court, I just don’t see where there is a great conflict if people go down that alley or go down 40th Avenue two-ways. Having this be a two-way, everybody gets to drive the directions they want to drive.”

Turning the one-way into a two-way would be “far less concerning and makes the most sense,” said Councilmember Pat Backen.

“I don’t see why it’s different than any other alley,” he said. “I vote the same as Bill. I live on an alley and where we have cars meeting, one just slips into a driveway and they pass each other.”

After hearing Backen and Blonigan speak, Selman said if the council decides to vote on a two-way street, it would be in the city’s best interest to put stop signs at the end of 40th Avenue to slow down oncoming drivers.

“I’m fine with putting a stop sign,” Councilmember Dan Rogan said. “We should follow what the engineer says. We’ve had it both ways. I think that neither way did it look like the traffic was remarkably different.”

Though McCoy advised the council not to add a stop sign saying that the volume of traffic does not warrant one, the council voted to approve the road to be turned back into a two-way with stop signs at the north end of the alley and the west side of 40th Avenue.

“I’m voting for it, but I don’t take lightly going against engineering recommendations,” Blonigan said. “…If we see adverse impacts one way or another, at least we tried all three ways.”

Contact Anna Woodwick at anna.woodwick@ecm-inc.com

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