2022 Dakota County Commissioner election featuring Joe Atkins and Jimmy Francis

2022 Dakota County Commissioner Election: Roads

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In Dakota County, the District 2 county commissioner—representing West St. Paul, South St. Paul, and parts of Inver Grove Heights—is on the ballot this year. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.

Previously we asked about public safetyfinanceslibrariesparks, and elections. This time we’re asking about roads.

There’s another roundabout coming to West St. Paul in 2023 and Delaware Avenue reconstruction is on the docket for 2025. Is Dakota County doing enough to maintain infrastructure and handle traffic? Are there proactive steps you would take to better improve roads and traffic?

Here are the candidates’ responses:

Joe Atkins

(campaign site)

In addition to all of the County’s road and pedestrian safety projects that have occurred in West St. Paul during my six years on the County Board, there are several more county road and pedestrian safety improvements in West St. Paul coming up. Projects include a mill-and-overlay and restriping of Thompson Avenue, a single-lane roundabout at Oakdale and Thompson, reconstruction of Delaware Avenue, with improved drainage, plus pedestrian safety improvements along Oakdale, Thompson and Butler, including near Heritage Middle School and St. Joseph’s.

The projects above are in addition to routine maintenance activities that keep our county roads in top shape, as well as timely plowing in the winter to keep county roads passable and safe.

While the County does not have decision-making authority over developments and density approved by the West St. Paul City Council, we closely monitor development decisions to ensure our infrastructure can keep up with needs.

Jimmy Francis

(campaign site)

It is difficult to measure if the county is doing enough to maintain infrastructure or is prepared for the new housing construction in the district. I do know that roundabouts work for traffic flow and that a stop sign isn’t always going to make people stop. It’s why we rely on experts in the transportation field. With regards to proactive steps to improve traffic and roads, I would say, yes. But an important fact is that the county needs to work closely with each city to monitor the impact of new construction to ensure we have ample amenities and places to park. What works in Lakeville might not work in West St. Paul, so we need advocates from each district to articulate the needs of our community. As a Mayor, I have seen firsthand how both MNDOT and Dakota County mandate what can and can’t be done with roads. Again, I believe the county should work with each city to accomplish the city’s goals and priorities before pushing county initiatives. We must work collaboratively so we ensure we are not redundant. A case in point is the tunnel under Robert Street; it would have been optimal to do the tunnel at the same time as road reconstruction instead of doubling the disruption that occurred. I would use past data to help measure and make future decisions.  

Vote on November 8

The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Learn more about where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.

See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.

Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.

This local election coverage only happens thanks to the support of our members. Consider joining West St. Paul Reader to ensure local election coverage continues. Membership starts at just $3 per month.

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