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Baxter City Council: Safe Routes to School Program moves forward

Another step forward was made in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) study during Tuesday’s Baxter City Council, with a unanimous motion to approve and assist in conducting an informational meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on March 29 to further discuss an option for Fairview Road between Knollwood Drive and Memorywood Drive, near Baxter Elementary.

“I am excited to come before you, and first of all thank you (Baxter City Council members) in helping us along with the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Feasibility Study,” said Matt Reid, a consultant for Short Elliot and Hendrickson consulting firm. “What I bring before you is four alternatives, spelling out some options and we are quite confident that when this (Fairview Trail) gets built, the final alternative will most likely be a hybrid of one or more of these alternatives.”

Reid described the four alternatives as:

• Alternative 1: Grade separated bituminous trail with a boulevard. Total cost at $322,608.

• Alternative 2: Bituminous Trail adjacent to curb — Construct a curb and gutter along the edge of the existing roadway with a bituminous trail constructed immediately adjacent to the curb. Total cost at $719,575.

• Alternative 3: Extend existing bituminous shoulder — Widening of the existing bituminous roadway (extend the shoulder) with a painted fog line to denote the walkway. Total cost at $657,828.

• Alternative 4: Concrete sidewalk adjacent to curb — Construct curb and gutter along the edge of the existing roadway with a concrete sidewalk constructed immediately adjacent to the curb. Total cost at $730,258.

Reid continued to say that a collaborative effort by ISD 181, Crow Wing County and the cities of Baxter and Brainerd was successful in obtaining $50,000 in grant funds from the Federal-Aid Safe Routes to School with an additional $10,000 in grant funds to study the feasibility of a possible “safe route” to the Baxter Elementary School along Fairview Road.

“The study is now at a point to share with the public,” said Reid.

Council member Rob Moser still questioned the future costs of the project.

“Any time you try to put something through a town like this, you face some challenges,” said Moser. “And you’re always adding costs. I’d like to see us limit the amount that a project like this will cost us. We do not need to be perfect but I agree, still better than what is there in regards to safety. But bringing in some the things like storm water on some of these options, you’re adding costs.”

The council motioned to approve a public meeting on March 29, open to the public.

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5858 or Follow her on Twitter @jessi_pierce