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Duluth, MN 55802 
Rice Lake Road Corridor and Traffic Impact Study (July 2006)
The goal of this planning effort is to identify solutions to improve safety and access on the heavily used commuter corridor along a rapidly-developing section of Rice Lake Road (CSAH 4) between Arrowhead Road and Central Entrance.
Boulder Ridge Apartments, located south of Hickory Street off Rice Lake Road, under construction in the summer of 2006. Planned new development, including new residential, commercial, and recreational centers, could negatively impact its viability as a major arterial linking the growing residential areas of the townships to the north with the central business district to the south. In addition, a proposal for a large student housing complex and access to and from two schools compound the traffic issues along this corridor.

The Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council (MIC) recently examined turning movement issues at the intersection of Rice Lake and Arrowhead as part of the North Township Roads Assessment. Additionally, St. Louis County recently conducted a study for Lowell Elementary School and proposed six alternatives to improve internal and external traffic circulation.

Public Input
This planning effort was led by a diverse Steering Committee comprised of jurisdiction staff from St. Louis County, the City of Duluth, MnDOT, and the MIC. Public outreach for this plan included an April 24th, 2006 public meeting where all residents and property owners along the corridor were invited to express their concerns. The meeting was attended by over 35 corridor stakeholders and eight staff members from area jurisdictions. The meeting format was to review analysis conducted and to hear concerns of stakeholders along the corridor. Stakeholders were encouraged to draw their concerns on aerial photos and to ask questions of area jurisdiction staff. The final plan categorized public input received and the Steering Committee developed a response to each public input category.

Data Collection and Modeling
A unique factor of the approved developments is that five of them will place pressure on the same unsignalized intersection of Hickory Street / Chinook and Rice Lake Road. Based on public concerns about the safety of this intersection, the Steering Committee asked MIC staff to conduct timing runs to the college campuses and asked URS Consulting to re-model the functionality of the intersection during AM and PM traffic peaks.

MIC Staff conducted turning movement counts during morning and afternoon peak travel periods, information which was incorporated into the traffic impact modeling analysis for the study. Modeling was conducted for: existing PM conditions, existing PM conditions plus development build-out, and forecasted 2015 conditions.

Key Findings and Recommendations
Key study findings included current intersection insufficiencies at Rice Lake Road and Central Entrance, 13th Street, and at the north and south legs at Arrowhead Road.

Projected deficiencies and safety recommendations for existing condition PM peak hour with developments built (2008) included:

Rice Lake Road/13th Street Intersection: Install a traffic signal with a protected/permissive north approach left turn phase.

Rice Lake Road South/Arrowhead Road Intersection: Add a 300-foot right turn lane with a traffic island on the west approach; Reconstruct the south approach to include one left turn lane, one shared through/left turn lane, and a right turn lane with a storage space of 300 feet; Revise the existing signal operation with split phases for the north and south approach, and optimize the signal timings.

Rice Lake Road/Hickory and Chinook Road Intersection: Install a traffic signal with permissive left turn phases. Consider the original design to include a right turn lane on Hickory for southbound Rice Lake Road.

Projected deficiencies and safety recommendations for forecast year 2015 build condition included:

Rice Lake Road/Central Entrance Intersection: Reconstruct the south approach (Mesaba Avenue) to include two left turn lanes, two through lanes and one channelized right turn lane. The existing median on the south approach is approximately 16 feet wide and provides available spaces for the second left turn lane. The second left turn lane should include approximately 300 feet of storage. Add a right turn lane on the southeast approach. The right turn lane should include approximately 200 feet of storage.

Rice Lake Road South/Arrowhead Intersection: Add a left turn lane on the east approach of the intersection with a storage space of 200 feet, and add one left turn lane on the west approach for lane alignment.

For More Information
Contact MIC Director Ron Chicka by phone at (218) 529-7506 or send a message by email