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City, school district will talk traffic

The newly paved Flagstaff Avenue officially opened last Friday, but the question of how to handle nearby traffic controls still needs to be answered before the new Farmington High School opens next fall.

When the new high school opens, hundreds of student and school employees will use Flagstaff at least twice a day, five days a week. Add in the additional evening traffic for sporting events and concerts, and the potential usage of the road jumps significantly, considering that just a couple of years ago it was a gravel road used mostly by folks who lived in the area.

Knowing that the dynamics along Flagstaff -- and many of the other streets in the northwestern section of the city -- are changing, the Farmington City Council and School District 192 Board of Education members have started working with Dakota County traffic engineers to look at long-term solutions for traffic safety. The three entities will meet next Monday to talk about some of those issues.

City of Farmington engineer Kevin Schorzman said next week's joint workshop is a preliminary step before traffic control proposals are presented for public comment at a Nov. 19 open house.

City and school officials met with Dakota County traffic staff earlier this year to identify some of the areas within the city that need attention. Specifically, Schorzman said, the area from County Road 50 north to the city of Lakeville, then the area from Akin Road and Pilot Knob Road west to Flagstaff Avenue.

The purpose of the study is two-fold. First, he said, the study will provide traffic projections that will indicate whether there are any changes that need to be made to the area prior to the new high school opening. It will also provide data necessary to making long-term decisions for the community.

"We're looking out to 2030 and what changes we can anticipate just due to growth in the city and how it will affect those same intersections," Schorzman said.

Much of the data have already been collected, but there is still more to come. With that data, Schorzman said, engineers will be able to forecast where some potential problem areas will be.

Public comment

The workshop on Monday will be informational, giving council and school board members some insight into what kinds of immediate changes may be made in the area. Several options will be presented to the elected officials, but those same options will be brought back for public comment at the upcoming open house.

Schorzman expects residents will have varying opinions on which intersections need attention first.

"That's the good thing about having open houses like this," he said. "(Residents) will discuss their concerns and create a community dialog about what should be the priority. That's the whole purpose of this.

"Each one of those options is going to have pros and cons to every resident, based on the thought of, 'Which one of those intersections do I use?'" he added.

Once the council, school board and public have weighed in on the options, the feedback will be evaluated and recommendations made. Schorzman expects at least one more open house will be held in the coming months -- once the initial traffic control decisions are made.

"There's not necessarily a one-size-fits-all fix when it comes to traffic engineering," Schorzman said.

The joint city council, school board and Dakota County transportation workshop will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10 at Farmington City Hall. Residents may attend, but comment at workshops is generally among the elected officials with little or no input taken from residents.

However, the open house for public comment will be held 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19 in the upstairs conference room at Farmington City Hall.