Hy-Vee traffic study released

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

The Spring Lake Park City Council Aug. 21 approved creation of a new planned unit development and preliminary plat for Hy-Vee Inc. on 12 acres at the corner of 81st Avenue Northeast and Central Avenue along Highway 65.

Proposed development by Hy-Vee in Spring Lake Park will affect the intersection of Highway 65 and 81st Avenue. A traffic study has been submitted to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
Proposed development by Hy-Vee in Spring Lake Park will affect the intersection of Highway 65 and 81st Avenue. A traffic study has been submitted to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Photo by Olivia Alveshere

Central Park Liquor currently occupies a portion of the site, but earlier this month, the city agreed to exit municipal liquor and sell the property to Hy-Vee for $1.15 million.

Planned unit development and preliminary plat applications to build a 76,000-square-foot Hy-Vee grocery store north of the liquor store and a 8,700-square-foot convenience store with 14 gas pumps and a drive-through coffee shop where the liquor store currently stands were approved by the Planning Commission July 24 and passed along to the City Council for review.

All council members attended the Planning Commission meeting, and the presentation Aug. 21 was essentially unchanged.

In the month since the Planning Commission meeting, the traffic study has been completed, but as of Monday’s council meeting, it was still under review by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“I was nervous about what the numbers might come back and say,” said Phil Hoey, with Hy-Vee. But he was undeterred by the study’s results, he said.

The study, conducted by Alliant Engineering, concluded that the proposed development would generate approximately 7,286 daily trips. An estimated 50 percent of those would be cars diverting from their usual route, so a net increase of 3,643 daily trips is expected.

Without traffic improvements, such volume will exceed capacity of the intersection at Highway 65 and 81st Avenue, causing delays and stop-and-go traffic.

Traffic at the intersection is already at or slightly over capacity, according to the report.

“I think the traffic study supports the reconfiguration that we’ve proposed,” Hoey said.

They study provides several modification options at the Highway 65-81st Avenue intersection.

Both alternative design options eliminate split phasing signal design, which “provides a green phase for all vehicle movements of one direction followed by a green phase for all movements of the opposite direction,” according to the traffic study. Split phasing is inefficient with extra yellow- and red-light changes.

One option requires reconstruction to widen the east side of the intersection and allow for six lanes of traffic: two westbound right-turn lanes, a westbound through lane, westbound left-turn lane, eastbound receiving lane and eastbound left-turn lane. On the west side, five lanes would accommodate traffic: an eastbound right-turn lane, eastbound through lane, two eastbound left-turn lanes and a westbound receiving lane.

A slight variation of that design would add a second southbound left-turn lane and second eastbound lane at the intersection.

A second design option would not require construction at the Highway 65-81st Avenue intersection, though lanes would be reconfigured. Instead, the west entrance, one of four proposed access points to the development, located directly across from Buchanan Street, would become a right-in, right-out only.

“There could be potential for some changes to this plan based on (MnDOT’s) comments,” Hoey said. Changes would likely be minor and involve the location of access points on 81st Avenue, he added.

City Administrator Dan Buchholtz confirmed with the council that “minor changes” do not require the ordinance to come before council a second time. He has the discretion to approve such minor changes.

Hy-Vee’s site plan is still under review by Anoka County and Rice Creek Watershed District.

“We are in general agreement with the design that has been proposed,” said Phil Carlson, city planner. “We’ve waited patiently for a viable commercial use to take advantage of this property, and this appears to be a use that can do that.”

Council unanimously approved both the planned unit development and preliminary plat. Council Member Bob Nelson was absent for the vote.

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