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Washington County wants public input on 70th/Keats/Military realignment

This aerial photograph provided by Washington County shows the zig-zagged intersections of 70th Street, Keats Avenue and Military Road in Cottage Grove. The county plans to rearrange the intersections as part of a $2.5 million project in 2013. County officials plan a March open house on the project, but have not set a date.

Residents will have a chance next month to offer input on a planned road project to realign a trio of busy Cottage Grove roadways.

Washington County transportation planners say they'll hold a public open house in March to discuss the estimated $2.5 million project that will rearrange the tightly-spaced roadways of 70th Street (County Road 22), Keats Avenue (County Road 19) and Military Road (County Road 20). The project will include removing an all-way stop at the intersection of 70th and Keats in the summer of 2013.

Regional drainage improvements will also be completed by the South Washington Watershed District as part of the project.

The realignment will improve safety and traffic flow, said Jacob Gave, the Washington County design engineer working on the project.

County planners have not yet announced a date for the open house.

The busy arterial roadways carry thousands of vehicles per day, but meet at a zig-zagged tangle of intersections. For motorists traveling on the east-to-west-running 70th Street, a turn onto Keats, which runs north-south, is required before another stop sign and another turn to continue on 70th Street.

Military Road meets Keats Avenue just north of the 70th Street intersection and runs northwest to Radio Drive. City and county officials say the long-term plan is to convert Military Road into a recreational trail after the completion of Ravine Parkway in the city's East Ravine area.

Gave and Cory Slagle, the county's engineering and construction manager, laid out two possible new alignments for 70th Street that would cut through a farm field that sits east of Keats and south of 70th.

The county is also considering two new methods other than the stop signs currently in place for controlling the re-worked intersection - either a stoplight or a roundabout. A pair of roundabouts opened in Cottage Grove at Jamaica Avenue and Highway 61 in 2007 to mixed reviews from motorists.

"But nothing is settled at this point," Gave said.

The project will be the third phase of improvements on Keats/Highway 19; a 2011 project repaved the roadway from U.S. Highway 61 to 85th Street and work this summer will rehabilitate the road north of Military Road to Bailey Road in Woodbury.