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1A Stop signs to address traffic jams in south Rochester

By Matt Russell

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Holiday shopping season is still months away, but traffic back-ups at a sprawling south Rochester retail complex might lead to changes to the Wal-Mart parking lot and nearby roads.

The traffic issues came up Monday at the Rochester City Council meeting, where council members approved temporary four-way stop signs at the Wal-Mart parking lot entrance off 25th Street Southeast. The goal of the signs is to get traffic moving more effectively through a frequently congested area.

At the same time, details were made public of a traffic study commissioned by Wal-Mart that said the South Broadway store should re-align its parking lot entrance off 25th Street Southeast.

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Under the possible parking lot entry re-alignment, vehicles would turn west as they enter the lot so they can stack up within the lot. Under the present layout, vehicles entering the lot continue north past the Wal-Mart entrance, causing backups into 25th Street as vehicles stop for pedestrians exiting the store.

The backups can extend to South Broadway, according to Gary Shannon of the public works department, as vehicles in the southbound left-turn lane have trouble turning onto the congested 25th Street.

Adding more traffic to South Broadway in the area is a lack of a secondary roadway connecting Wal-Mart, Menard’s and the development between them that contains a row of big-box stores bookended by Kohl’s and Sports Authority, according to city council member Ed Hruska.

"They don’t connect yet, so people have to go out to Broadway to get from location to location," he said.

Having a secondary roadway connection will become even more important with a proposed 30-acre commercial development nearby, for which the council unanimously approved a preliminary plat Monday, Hruska said.

"We can’t continue to load more and more traffic onto just a few roads without thinking about the big plan," Hruska said.

The new commercial development might speed up the process of building better roadway connections in the area, possibly by requiring the developer to provide for them, he said.

Back at Wal-Mart, Shannon said four-way stop signs could be installed this week. Their effectiveness will be monitored and they might be made permanent when the parking lot entry is re-aligned, he added.

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A Wal-Mart manager said he didn’t know when the re-alignment might happen, and a call to Wal-Mart’s corporate office was not returned.

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