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ST. JOHN — To alleviate concerns over the traffic to be generated by construction of 432 homes in The Preserves Subdivision, Schilling Development has come up with a series of road improvements it will build as the subdivision develops.

Jack Slager, of Schilling Development, outlined the improvements to four intersections during a St. John Plan Commission study session.

He expects to return to the Plan Commission tonight to seek approval for the plan.

At a public hearing for the primary plat approval, several residents protested the plan saying it would exacerbate the already congested traffic situation on 93rd Avenue and on White Oak. The commission referred the plan back to its study session as a result.

Slager said, after that meeting, the company studied the town's 2005 thoroughfare plan and the recently completed draft of the new thoroughfare plan done by First Group Engineering for the town's comprehensive plan update. The consultant's recommendations include requiring all new developments to provide the right of way needed to widen 93rd.

To provide the recommended 90-foot right of way for the road, 45 feet is needed on each side, and Slager said Schilling will dedicate 50 feet in front of The Preserves. He said that should give St. John the needed 90 feet for the whole area. Other recommendations are that connectivity to other subdivisions be provided and no driveways empty onto major arterial roads, which Schilling is following with The Preserves.

"We realize there are traffic issues, but the real problem as I see it is not the width of the roads, but the inability to get through the intersections," Slager said.

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He said the subdivision will be developed in phases of about 50 lots each year. As the infrastructure for the lots is put in, they will be sold to developers to build the homes. The total build out isn't expected to be completed for 10 to 15 years. As each of the first four phases is built, Schilling will improve the intersection affected by the project.

It will start with the main entrance at what is called Waterleaf Drive and White Oak in the first phase. An acceleration/deceleration lane will be built along White Oak at the entrance. For the second phase, the intersection of White Oak and 93rd will be improved to make it three lanes in each direction with turn lanes and a crosswalk on White Oak for the planned bike path along 93rd.

Left turn lanes and another bike path crosswalk are planned for phase three at White Oak and 101st Avenue. The final intersection improvement will be at 93rd and Tall Grass Trail across from the entrance to Schillton Hills subdivision. Slager said the added turn lanes will make it wider than the U.S. 41/93rd intersection. All the improvements will be done on the developers side of the roads.

"By improving every possible intersection, we feel we will be addressing a lot of the traffic concerns," Slager said.

The town has been waiting since 1985 for the state to improve the U.S. 41/93rd intersection, Town Manager Steve Kil said. St. John looked at the cost of widening 93rd to White Oak in two phases about eight years ago, but the cost of right of way acquisition was too expensive, even with federal help, Kil said.

"(Slager) addressed the traffic flow, and he has the improvements timed out pretty well with the development's time frame," Kil said of the Schilling plans. "The size of the development and the off-site improvements seemed to be the biggest obstacles. All the main intersections are planned out carefully."

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