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Traffic lights planned at 70th, Meadow Grass in Cottage Grove

Drivers and pedestrians crossing 70th Street at Meadow Grass Avenue will see new traffic signals this fall on a stretch of road that’s been the source of safety concerns.

With the new, two-acre bike park at West Draw Park drawing more people to the neighborhood, the city expressed concerns about pedestrians crossing 70th Street at the uncontrolled intersection.

The project is part of a cooperative, phased implementation plan aimed at remedying the traffic issues along the main thoroughfare, which include speeding, unlawful passing in turn lanes, and in October 2013 a pedestrian death.

Last fall, the first phase was completed with restriping and adjustment to the lane configurations at intersections along 70th Street between Granada and Hardwood avenues. The $35,000 project, however, is a short-term fix. The long-term plan includes a four-lane divided highway.

“It’s important that we are making data-driven decisions to address the safety concerns along this road and the restriping has helped a lot with mobility, but there’s obviously still concerns,” said Washington County Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, who has been vocal about making improvements to 70th Street. “With the two crashes at that intersection this winter, the data shows that a stoplight is needed.”

Slated for construction in September, the traffic light will be identical to the signal down at the intersection of 70th Street and Hardwood Avenue, City Engineer Jennifer Levitt said.

Also part of the project will be the striping of turn lanes near the intersection and an ADA-certified crosswalk. Crews will also repave the intersection.

The joint project is estimated to cost roughly $300,000, with the county and the city each bearing a portion of the cost. The city’s portion will be just over $172,000, which will be paid for using state aid dollars and the street light utility fund.

“We need to make sure we are accurately targeting these intersections and use the data that we collect to invest and spend our money wisely,” Lehrke said. “Safety is our top priority.”

The traffic signal is expected to be operational by mid-October, Levitt said.

“It’s good that this is finally moving forward,” Cottage Grove City Council member Jen Peterson said. “It’s something that people have been asking about. And it will help make this a safer intersection.”