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Cottage Grove traffic study aims to reduce vehicle idle time at signals

Hoping to smooth traffic flow and cut congestion at some troublesome intersections, the city of Cottage Grove is set to undertake a comprehensive traffic study at seven city-operated stoplights.

Citing backups during peak traffic hours at a trio of intersections -- on East Point Douglas Road near a busy shopping area that includes both Cub Foods and a Target store; Jamaica Avenue and East Point Douglas; and 90th Street and Jamaica Avenue -- the city will partner with traffic engineers from planning consultant SEH Inc., to evaluate traffic patterns and then use a computer model to re-time traffic lights.

"If we can reduce that idle time at traffic signals, that's important," said City Engineer Jennifer Levitt.

She said city observations of the trouble intersections and complaints from residents spurred officials to propose the study that was approved by the City Council last week. Levitt also said the city was told earlier this year that the Minnesota Department of Transportation was set to review three state-operated stoplights on 80th Street.

It will be the first comprehensive study and re-timing of the city's stoplights, Levitt said. Re-timing the city's stoplights will reduce travel time, driver delays and save fuel, Levitt told the council. The study and re-timing are expected to be complete in May.

Council member Dave Thiede, who voted to approve the study, questioned why the city hadn't budgeted for the project's $12,000 cost. Levitt said that's because city officials weren't alerted to the state's plan to evaluate the timing of their three stoplights in the city until early this year.