Safety improvements coming to busy intersection in Golden Valley

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Major safety improvements are planned for a busy intersection in Golden Valley.

At Highway 55 and Douglas Drive, city officials say it’s too dangerous for pedestrians.

"There has been a lot of close calls," Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris said.

Just steps from the intersection is Perpich Arts High School.

"Eliminating that safety concern is obviously of big interest to us," said Conn McCartan, the Perpich Arts High School principal.

McCartan says many of his students use public transportation to get to school. The problem is they’re dropped off on one side of Highway 55 and forced to cross multiple lanes of 50 mph traffic to get to school safely.

"There’s a bit of a dodge with a number of kids coming across a really busy thoroughfare," McCartan said.

Along with pedestrian concerns, the city says there have been dozens of car crashes that have happened in this area over the last decade.

"It’s a highly complicated intersection," Harris said.

Harris says the work includes an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant crossing under the highway for pedestrians and cyclists, and a new roundabout for the nearby service road that should lead to less congestion.

"We need to re-engineer this whole intersection so it’s safe for anybody," Harris said.

For those driving along Highway 55, Harris said the project won’t impact the commute.

"Whether they’re driving into downtown or get out of downtown, they’re not going to notice a difference," Harris added.

Thanks to the most recent bonding bill, construction on the $6.5 million project will begin in early 2023. Harris says legislators who chief authored the bill to make this happen include Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park; Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope; Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley; and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler.

Before the project breaks ground, Harris is hoping to get more input from those who live and commute here.

"The community engagement, to get that sense of how it might flow, how it might work, and are there pieces that we can tweak," Harris said.

Too often, these projects are prompted by tragedy. Instead, McCartan says improvements here hope to prevent one from ever happening.

"It’s so much better to say we anticipated the possibility of some safety concerns and addressed it," McCartan said.

For more information on the project timeline, click here.