The intersection of Trunk Highway (TH) 13/County Highway (CH) 21 is located within the City of Prior Lake in Scott County adjacent to Downtown Prior Lake. The intersection includes two minor arterials (a state road and a county road) that accommodate traffic within the City of Prior Lake, and also acts as a regional connection to cities in Scott County and the greater Twin Cities region.
For years, the TH 13/CH 21 intersection has been identified as needing improvement. The current intersection design poses safety and operational concerns and lacks the capacity to move traffic efficiently, both for today and in the long term. The intersection has been studied multiple times without finding a solution suitable to all project partners.
In 2005, Scott County completed the Highway 21 Corridor Study, which created a long-term concept plan for the CH 21 corridor between CH 82 and CH 87 within the City of Prior Lake. This study produced a recommended alternative for the corridor based on considerations of safety, mobility, access, and economic vitality. While the plan was adopted by the County Board of Commissioners, significant concerns were raised, including that the access to and economic vitality of downtown Prior Lake needed more consideration and that more options should be evaluated.
As part of the preliminary design process, Scott County, in cooperation with the City of Prior Lake and MnDOT, is revisited the analysis of alternatives, particularly for the area around the TH 13/CH 21 and CH 21/Main Avenue NE intersections. The 13-21 intersection was identified as needing improvement due primarily to mobility concerns, but also in regards to safety concerns associated with existing and forecasted traffic.
The project evaluated potential improvements to intersections in close proximity to the CH 21/TH 13 intersection, in particular CH 21/Main Avenue. It also considered traffic impacts on surrounding streets, including impacts on pedestrian safety and accessibility.
The focus of this effort was on Downtown Prior Lake, with a corridor visioning exercise completed for the longer segment of CH 21 from CH 82/154th Street to Franklin Trail. The Corridor Visioning Study helped identify how the intersection reconstruction project could holistically fit into the future vision of the corridor and its surroundings.
The long-term corridor improvements developed through this project reflect the transportation needs of both the region and the local community. Efforts include:
- Establishing the goals and objectives for the corridor
- Defining the issues and potential opportunity areas
- Developing and evaluating potential infrastructure improvement alternatives
- Reaching consensus on recommendations
- Enhance vehicle mobility on major transportation corridors
- Maintain and enhance local roadway system
- Safely accommodate all users along the major transportation corridors
- Provide a comprehensive network for nonmotorized transportation that is compatible with the major transportation corridors
- Provide infrastructure improvements compatible with the natural and human environment
- Develop a financially responsible infrastructure implementation plan
- Preserve and enrich the character of Downtown Prior Lake