Officials review traffic data at Maple/Main intersection

Although a request to place a stop sign at Maple and Main streets received considerable discussion during the Waconia City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 15, no movement was made toward a decision other than the council accepting the data from a recently conducted traffic study that was held at the intersection last month.
At this time, there is not a stop sign at that intersection, which features the Waconia Fire Station on the southwest corner and Bob’s Repair on the northeast corner. In August, Vincent Giesen presented the council with a neighborhood petition that featured the signatures of 422 citizens that support moving the stop sign at Vine and Main to Maple and Main. The intersection of Vine and Main is one block east.
The petition received support largely due to safety concerns for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic at the intersection of Maple and Main.
At the time, city officials noted that traffic studies from 2008 and 2010 had shown that the intersection did not have enough traffic to warrant a stop sign under thresholds used by MnDOT but perhaps a new study could be conducted in the fall.
Traffic Data, Inc. was hired by the city to conduct a new traffic study, which was held on Tuesday, Sept. 25. School was in session during the study, which monitored traffic at the intersections of Maple and Main and Vine and Main for a 24-hour period.
In addition, a secondary study was conducted that took into account the combined vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic at the intersections during an eight-hour period.
The study showed that the intersections still do not meet MnDOT’s thresholds for a stop sign. According to MnDOT, the volume of traffic needed for a stop sign equates to 300 per hour / per eight hour period. According to the study, a volume of 190 was the highest for Maple and Main and 197 was the highest for Main and Vine. It was noted that the traffic volume was actually a bit less than what was observed in the last study.
The study also showed the vehicle peak periods for Main Street at both intersections was heading easterly from 7:15 to 8 a.m. and heading westerly from 4:15 to 5 p.m.
A number of citizens were present for a discussion regarding the data. Giesen and others noted that the 300 threshold required by MnDOT seemed high and surely the city has stop signs at other intersections that don’t meet those requirements.
Giesen noted his perception that the city is against the stop sign and asked the council to consider safety above the data, adding, “guidelines are made to be broken.”
Bernard Raun told the council that he feels “very uncomfortable walking across the intersection” because drivers don’t always respect the crosswalks. He asked the council to look beyond the data and asked if a life needs to be lost for something to get done.
“Isn’t the cost of a sign worth saving a life?” he asked.
Stacy Nelson noted the presence of many families with young children in that area of the city. She asked the council to consider what was right for the community and its children. After asking if there could be a “Plan B” if the stop sign wasn’t going to happen, Nelson asked at what point does the community have a voice, especially considering more than 400 people supported the petition in this case.
Without stating his exact thoughts on the matter, Mayor Jim Nash noted that he wasn’t satisfied with the intersection as it currently stands and would like to see something different from a configuration standpoint.
The council voted 4-0 in favor of the resolution to accept the data (Councilor Jim Sanborn was absent) but removed language from city staff that noted the information and analysis didn’t warrant a stop sign at Main and Maple.
The council is expected to consider the request at its next regular meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19.
In other matters:
• A discussion was held on imposing parking restrictions at Brook Peterson Park.
Over the past few years, high school students have started to park in the parking lot by the ice arena instead of at the high school, possibly to avoid paying for a parking permit at the high school. At this time, 24 to 40 cars are regularly parked in the city lot.
City staff is concerned about the situation because they have noticed increased vandalism, loitering, and other activity that has prompted increased policing in both the city and school parking lots. In addition, vehicles are often parked in a “scattered” fashion and not in the spaces, which will make snow plowing a challenge.
The restrictions include the creation of three hour parking from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in both the east and west lots at Brook Peterson Park.
Councilor Larry Millender pulled the item off of the consent agenda because he felt it was discriminatory to restrict parking in a public parking lot.
Carrier and Councilor Kent Bloudek both agreed that the restrictions were reasonable. It was noted that if students were trying to avoid the permit fee, hopefully the school has a way to assist students who can’t afford the permit but still need to drive to school.
Nash noted that there is room for the students to be parking at the high school and that they needed to take care of their city lot, so he also supported the restrictions.
The final vote was 3-1 with Millender voting against the restrictions.
• The council approved the 2013 Prosecution Contract between the city and the Carver County Attorney’s Office. County Attorney Mark Metz delivered a short presentation on the contract, which will cost Waconia $8,923.89, an amount that’s $1,266.25 less than the city’s 2012 contract, which cost $10,190.14. One reason for the lower cost is that the city’s average caseload over the past three years has decreased.
• The council’s next meeting will be held at 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 9. At this meeting, the council will canvass election results. The next full meeting is Nov. 19.