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The future of Farmington traffic

It will likely be a few years before any new traffic controls are installed on Pilot Knob Road, but at least now city, school district and county officials know where those controls will go -- someday.

In a joint meeting April 8, members of the Farmington City Council, Farmington School Board and Dakota County's transportation division pinpointed where the important intersections will be along Pilot Knob Road. However, no decisions were made as to what types of intersection controls -- stoplights, roundabouts or otherwise -- would be placed, nor did they decide just when that will happen.

But Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman said at least now elected officials and city and county staff know which intersections to monitor, especially with the changing traffic patterns that will come once the new high school opens next fall.

Starting from the north side of School District 192 boundaries, the key, or "primary" intersections between there and County Road 50 include 179th Street West in Lakeville, Upper 182nd Street West, 187th Street West, 190th Street West, 195th Street/County Road 64, 197th Street West, 200th/203rd Street West, 208th Street West, 212th Street West and County Road 50.

"There's no plans to put a stoplight at any one of those intersections in the near future," Schorzman said.

Instead, he said, city and county officials will watch the traffic flows and see where any changes need to be made. That will mean several traffic counts over time, and carefully planning what type of traffic control will work best when the time comes for one to be installed.

"This is more a long-term vision to say, as needs arise, this is how we're going to handle them," he said. "We didn't want to install a light at every intersection on Pilot Knob and turn it into another Cedar Avenue."

One to watch

The opening of the 195th Street/Co. Rd. 64 extension to Highway 3 this summer, and the opening of the new high school on Flagstaff Avenue, though, means the intersection at Pilot Knob Road and 195th Street will probably see some significant changes, and soon.

With only a stop sign to control the intersection of Co. Rd. 50 and Flagstaff Avenue, school officials plan to direct all after-school traffic north on Flagstaff Avenue. Then student drivers will have the choice of continuing north on Flagstaff, or going east on 195th Street. Determining if the eastbound drivers will go north, south or east once they hit Pilot Knob is easier said than done, Schorzman said.

"That's the unique thing about traffic. We can do the research and try to give an idea of what will happen, but until it happens, we don't really know what people are going to do," he said.

He points to a stoplight on Co. Rd. 70 in Lakeville, near Lakeville South High School. City officials there thought students would go south out of the high school lots, Schorzman said, but found once the school opened that students preferred to go north instead. Right now, that light is not functioning the way it was intended, and the city paid extra to have it installed.

During the workshop, Schorzman said, county officials also suggested that the city and county may have to look at corridor upgrades along 195th Street/Co. Rd. 64 in the future. That could mean creating a third, left-hand turn lane to help ease some of the congestion on the street, or it could, someday become a four-lane county road much like the northern part of Pilot Knob.