Have you ever noticed the barricaded, dead-end road adjacent to the St. Michael Dairy Queen? That dead end will soon be no longer, as work begins this summer on an extension of Lincoln Drive and new residential development adjacent to the new roadway.
“It probably would have been nice if it was done during the first phase of the Rambling Creek project,” said Marc Weigle, St. Michael’s community development director. “It’s been 20 years and it’s finally going to get connected here.”
Residents of the Rambling Creek and surrounding residential areas showed up to a planning and zoning meeting earlier this month to get more information on the proposed road extension and development and to voice their concerns. City leaders discussed water drainage, buffer areas between existing single family homes and the proposed twin homes and traffic concerns with them. The planning and zoning commission ultimately approved both the preliminary plat and a re-zoning of the land from R-1 single family residential to R-3, which allows for medium-density product such as villas and twin homes. The city council also approved those items at their meeting the following week.
New Residential Development
The preliminary plat calls for five additional single family homes in a cul-de-sac, 26 twin homes and 33 detached villa townhomes. A representative from Benzinger Properties, the project’s developer, said the twin homes will be large at 1,700+ square feet, granite countertops, custom cabinetry and oversize garages. He said the villas will range from 1,700-2,000 square feet, and the ones with basements will be over 3,000 finished square feet. Prices will start at $329,000 for the twin homes and the villas could be as expensive as $500,000, though he said most will land in the $400,000 range. The single-family homes in the cul-de-sac will likely be in the $500,000-$650,000 price range. Benzinger said they have similar villas and twin homes in Rogers and Otsego that have been well-received.
“There’s a lot of empty-nesters, people who are getting towards seniors,” he said. “This is the type of product they are looking for.”
County Road 19 can become quite congested through St. Michael at certain times of the day, and the Lincoln Drive expansion would serve as an alternate route between the south end of town and Highway 241. Weigle said the new road should help relieve some traffic concerns the city hears about from residents on Meadowlark Road, Edgewood Drive and Creekside Drive, but it will create different concerns for those who live on Lincoln Drive.
Weigle agreed that the road would indeed see increased traffic once it connects to Highway 241. He said the road is projected to see similar traffic levels as Heights Road or Birch Ave., which are main entry points from CSAH 19 to residential areas on the west end of town. Those roads see approximately 1,900-2,000 vehicles daily. However, he said the city has worked with traffic consultants to mitigate concerns. The plan does not involve adding additional stop signs, but takes alternative measures instead.
“If people keep pulling up to [a stop sign] and there’s never a car coming from the other side street, they’ll just start rolling through it because there is no logical reason to have it there,” Weigle said.
He added that people will likely speed up even more between stop signs because they are annoyed they had to keep stopping.
Instead, Weigle said they plan to stripe the roadway to make the road feel narrower. He said studies have shown drivers travel 1-7 miles per hour slower when roads are striped. The north end of Lincoln Drive will be narrower than the current portion of Lincoln Drive, which will also encourage slower speeds. There will be a sidewalk and potentially a trail on the northern portion of the new section of Lincoln drive, and a striped bike/pedestrian lane on the southern portion of the new road.
Other options for slowing down traffic could include bump outs to narrow up key intersections and give pedestrians a shorter distance to cross. The city could consider this option right away or in future years, as it would add additional cost to the project.