Alice Smith students returning to school next year should find the nearby streets safer because of a $3.1 million project that envisions substantial changes to the roads.
“We’re very excited about the project this year,” City Engineer John Bradford said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “We’ve got some big improvements in front of Alice Smith school.”
Hopkins historically completes one big street project a year covering a handful of streets in a single area.
This year’s project would realign Minnetonka Mills Road so that it dead ends at Ninth Avenue. Where the confusing existing intersection contains three roads and an Alice Smith exit, the new traffic pattern would shunt Minnetonka Mills drivers onto Fourth Street North or give them the option to make a right-angle turn onto Ninth Avenue.
“I think the realignment of the road is a great call,” Councilman Rick Brausen said.
The redesign also would narrow Alice Smith entrances to discourage multiple lanes of stopped traffic from piling up during pickup and drop-off times.
In addition, the project contains several features that make it safer for children to walk to school, including:
- So-called “bump-outs” that narrow the street from 38 feet to 24 feet at intersections or pedestrian crossings. This gets pedestrians in front of parked cars, where they can see approaching traffic better, and slows traffic by creating visual chokepoints that make the street appear narrower.
- Stamped and colored crosswalks that make the crossing more visible to drivers.
There is not yet a firm plan for what would be done with the block of Minnetonka Mills cut off by the street realignment. Staff are suggesting vacating that portion of road and transforming it into green space, Bradford said. The city could even lease a portion of that green space to Alice Smith for parking.
The project would also include work on the following areas:
- Gethsemane Road
- Fourth Street North, between 10th and 11th Avenues North,
- Ninth Avenue North, between Minnetonka Mills and Third Street North,
- Third Street North, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues North,
- Eighth Avenue North, between First and Second Street North and
- Two alleys.
(For full details, click on the PDFs at the top of the article.)
About $2.4 million of the project’s estimated cost is for streets, with the remaining going toward storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water main improvements. Property owners would pay for about $1.1 million of that through assessments.
Council members voted unanimously to convene a public hearing on the project at the Jan. 17 council meeting. If everything goes according to schedule, the council will approve a final plan in March and construction will take place June through October.
Most of the work on the Minnetonka Mills portion of the road should be complete before school starts, Bradford said. The district is already considering moving Kids & Company and other summer programs at Alice Smith to other locations because of the construction—although Bradford noted that school officials said the construction period would be a good time for the district to do its own work on Alice Smith.