Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Journalism Article: Residents fight to keep 70th safe

By :Joey Stych
Slug: Arnesonpkwy

Recent highway construction in Edina has funneled cars off of highway 100 and onto 70th street, dividing the community between those who want convenience and those who value safety.

A group of 70th Street residents have come together in an attempt to save the dignity of the neighborhood, and to help keep their children safe. These citizens hope to recreate 70th Street as Arneson Parkway, increasing the appeal and safety of the neighborhood.

Though 70th Street has always been filled with commuters, it recently became more dangerous because of increasing speeds of passing cars and the rise in the number of cars using the street due to construction on Highways 100 and 62. Most traffic is headed to the heart of Edina, near Southdale shopping mall and the Galleria.

“I would love to be able to get out of my driveway faster,” said Virginia Ma, a senior at Edina High School and resident of 70th Street who feels blocked in by traffic. “So many people speed by Cornelia every day.”

Parents are becoming uneasy about letting their children cross the street alone and also worry about their childrens’ trip home from Cornelia Elementary School, which is on 70th.

“When school gets out, speed violations always seem to be at their worst,” said Cornelia parent Josh Sprauge, “but we have ideas that will help to improve neighborhood conditions.”

Sprauge is not only a concerned parent but also the head of The Greater West 70th Street Homeowners Association. The board of 70th residents seeks not only the improvement of street conditions, but also better enforcement of speed limits and increased signage on highways to inform drivers of alternate routes to the Southdale area.

“The city needs to eliminate state aid for 70th so that we are able to decrease the speed limit in the area. But this is only one of many options we have in slowing cars down,” Sprauge said.

State aid on 70th is financial help Edina receives as a way of repairing city roads. Because the road is funded by the state, 70th is also under the state laws for speed limits.

Sprauge also said the board is looking into adding more crosswalks and stoplights to Arneson as possible solutions to the speeding problem.

Making these changes would not only affect the residents of 70th Street, but also the people who use it.

“I use 70th Street three or four times a week to get to work, and construction would make it very difficult to get there on time,” said senior Kate Kincaid, who works at Creative Kidstuff and rushes from school to reach the Galleria on time.

The current speed limit on 70th is 30 mph, but according to Ma this is “loosely followed.” She also predicted that with a decrease to 25 mph and the increased monitoring of the law, traffic would come to a standstill.

“Even though construction would be hurtful to the community at that time, families could really benefit from Arneson Parkway in the future,” said Ma.

The Greater West 70th Street Homeowners Association already mapped out this change, but Sprauge said: “This will not be possible overnight, or without the support of the city.”

Sprauge and his cohorts began their movement at Edina City Hall and have provided city leaders with a letter stating the purpose of Arneson Parkway and the changes that need to happen for it to be possible.

“I think that building Arneson Parkway would slow things down for everyone,” said Kincaid: “But it’s worth it. 70th is ridiculous.”

The next meeting of the Greater West 70th Street Homeowners Association is at 6:00 PM on November 13. For More information, including the meeting location, visit the association’s website at www.save70th.org.

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