Wayzata residents want their static 'no turn on red' sign back

When Austin Ditzler leaves his Wayzata neighborhood, he takes Hollybrook Road to Central Avenue, where he often sits and waits … and waits … and waits for a break in traffic to make a left or right turn.

It's been that way for the past four years since the Minnesota Department of Transportation took down a static "No Turn on Red" sign that prevented drivers on the ramp from eastbound Hwy. 12 from turning right onto Central Avenue, also known as County Road 101. The agency replaced the static sign with an electronic version that illuminates a couple of hours in the mornings and for 45 minutes during the evening rush.

The problem, Ditzler says, is that Hollybrook Road is only a few thousand feet north and slightly downhill from the busy Central Avenue/Hwy. 12 interchange. Hollybrook serves as the only way in and out of a neighborhood of several townhouses, apartment buildings and residences.

When the electronic "No Turn on Red" sign is off, traffic pours off the freeway, Ditzler said. That compounded with incessant southbound traffic on County 101 "makes it dangerous and difficult for us to exit Hollybrook."

The electronic sign operates from 7 to 9:15 a.m. and 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. The sign also illuminates if a pedestrian pushes a button to activate it, said MnDOT spokesman Jesse Johnson.

Ditzler said he and others in his neighborhood want the old static sign back, but at the very least they want the electronic sign activated from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. He has the support of Wayzata Police Chief Mark Schultz.

"Our agency does recognize that this is a challenging area to safely enter 101 from Hollybrook," the chief said. While his department does traffic enforcement when the sign is activated, "I would support the installation of a permanent 'No turn on red' sign," Schultz said.

That's not likely to happen, Johnson said.

In 2019, MnDOT teamed with Hennepin County to replace the Central Avenue bridge over Hwy. 12 in Wayzata. The agencies widened the bridge deck and added a center turn lane for motorists turning left from Central Avenue onto Hwy. 12 a place to queue up. A new signal system also went in, which included the electronic "No Turn on Red" sign.

The electronic sign operates based on existing traffic conditions, Johnson said. Traffic volumes on County 101, about 16,500 vehicles a day, has declined in the past 20 years "and the lower PM peak-hour right turns support maintaining the current hours of operation," Johnson said.

There have been no crashes involving drivers turning from Hollybrook on to Central Avenue since the electronic sign went in, Johnson said.

Overnight closures on I-694 this week

Motorists planning to use southbound I-694 in the east metro during overnight hours will need to find an alternate route.

MnDOT will shut down the southbound lanes between Hwy. 36 in Pine Springs and the I-494/694 interchange in Woodbury nightly between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. Lanes will be open during the day, MnDOT said.