School board backs Eagan road improvement plan, big hurdle remains

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The Independent School District 196 School Board that represents Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan approved a resolution on Monday to support Dakota County's plan to make safety changes to Diffley Road that passes near three schools in Eagan.

The action comes after middle school student Patric Vitek was fatally struck by a car as he tried to cross Diffley Road on his bike to get to class back in November.

"It's so important in light of the tragic loss our community suffered," said Cory Johnson, ISD 196 School Board member. "We had this outpouring of support and calls for action to improve the safety."

Dakota County is trying to get $4.62 million for the project to be included in the state's bonding bill this session.

More than 100 gather to hear safety proposals for road where Eagan teen was killed

But COVID-19 stoppages at the legislature have slowed the legislative process.

"We have not seen a bonding bill yet, and in fact, I have to say that we are very concerned that there hasn't been more work on getting that list of bonding projects done," said State DFL Senator Jim Carlson, who represents parts of Dakota County including Eagan.

Next week, Carlson said he hopes more specifics about bonding projects become available when lawmakers reconvene after a scheduled break for the Easter and Passover holidays.

Sen. Carlson said he's optimistic that if the Eagan project is included it can pass.

"It's small and Dakota County doesn't ask for very much," Carlson said.

House DFL leadership told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are committed to getting a bonding bill passed that puts people to work.

"It's a huge concern, if the bonding bill isn't successful at the legislature this project will not happen," said Johnson.

Senate Republicans said they are still open to a bonding bill this session. 

The chamber passed a resolution Wednesday to have remote hearings via video chat that could include the committee that handles Capitol Investments.

The school district said in an online post that the improvements detailed in the county's bonding bill request include:

  • Reconstruct Diffley from a four- to a two-lane road between Lexington Avenue to 2,000 feet east of Braddock Trail;
  • Install roundabouts on Diffley at the intersections of Daniel Drive and Braddock Trail;
  • Modify parking lot entrances/exits on Braddock Trail, and
  • Construct a new road from the north side of the Daniel Drive roundabout into the high school south parking lot.  

To learn more about the project, click here.

The legislative session is scheduled to end next month in St. Paul.