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East Gull Lake to be reimbursed for trail extension

BACKUS — Cass County commissioners voted Tuesday to execute an agreement with the city of East Gull Lake to reimburse the city up to $70,000 toward the city’s recreational trail extension planned for this summer.

The county had pledged its support for the extension earlier. The money will be transferred through the county highway department.

 County Engineer David Enblom reported to the board 21 Cass and eight Itasca County townships have signed up for a cooperative buying agreement with the county to purchase higher reflectivity traffic safety signs. This joint sign order will be for 1,600 signs and is expected to be the first of three orders, Enblom said.

A federal mandate will require all local governments to improve the reflectivity of their highway safety signs before the end of 2014, Enblom said.

Pending is another federal mandate to require improved reflectivity and larger size for street name signs as well. The deadline for that is 2018.

 Cass commissioners objected to replacing street signs without any federal funding to pay toward that mandate. The board voted to send a letter to the Minnesota congressional delegation, asking them to either repeal the law on street sign replacement or to fund it.

 Enblom said the county’s current street signs cost around $200,000 when they were installed about 13 years ago. The federal mandate would require larger signs than Cass has, which could double what the county spent 13 years ago.

Cass does use the larger sign and higher reflectivity standard when any street sign has to be replaced today. He said if the mandate for total street sign replacement is repealed he expects a new federal mandate would require upgrading all signs as they are replaced.