New traffic signals to be installed on Trunk Highway 5 in Lake Elmo

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Thanks to a sizeable grant received by Washington County, two new signalized intersections will be coming to the Village area in downtown Lake Elmo.

The county was awarded a $462,000 grant from the Metro Municipal Agreement Program to “aid in the cost of safety improvements” along Trunk Highway 5. The funds will be used to install signals on Highway 5 at both spots where Lake Elmo Avenue (County Road 17) intersects the highway. Dedicated right-turn lanes will also be constructed as part of the project, which is slated to begin in September 2014.

The new signals are intended to slow traffic through the Village area. Motorists frequently zip down the thoroughfare as a shortcut between Interstate 694 to state Highway 36. A current resurfacing project on Highway 5 that is nearing completion will narrow lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet in the downtown corridor and install a crossing island “refuge” where pedestrians can stop to check traffic while attempting to cross to and from Lake Elmo Elementary School.

At an open house for the resurfacing project in August, area business owners expressed concerns about how access to their establishments would be affected by construction on the highway, particularly during the installation of traffic signals. Traffic around the school can back up in the mornings and afternoons, and adding construction vehicles could worsen the situation, they say.

City officials have said a drainage study of the downtown Village area has also been scheduled for this winter.

— Johanna Holub

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