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Cass road work is on schedule

WALKER — Laura Hadrava, Cass County highway construction and design engineer, reported to the county board Tuesday that the department is on schedule to complete all planned road construction work this year.

Projects already completed include work on County State Aid Highways (CSAH) 1, 34, 203 (Front street in Backus) and on County Road 109.

Minnesota Department of Transportation has reviewed bids and approved the contract the county awarded for work on five more projects. Hadrava said the contractor has begun crushing gravel for that work.

It includes CSAH 8 from Highway 200 to County Road 157, CSAH 39 from Highway 200 to Brevik, CSAH 63 from CSAH4 to 8, County Road 136 going one mile north from CSAH 73 and County Road 166 (Y Frontage Road).

Bids will be opened Aug. 16 for four more projects to be done this fall. Those include work on two miles of CSAH 67 along the county line, bridge replacements on County Road 120 and County Road 147 and an erosion control project on County Road 161.

Cass has been approved for $90,000 from the Chippewa National Forest Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) to rebuild and pave County Road 161 to stop road gravel from washing down a hill into Pug Hole Lake.

Total cost is estimated at $154,000. Tuesday, the county board approved seeking additional RAC funding from a new extension of that program to pay the balance.

The board also approved an erosion control paving project for a unorganized township road, Chippewa Beach Road. About a third of the town road was paved last year to prevent road gravel from running into a lake, but now additional portions of the road also have begun eroding.

The balance of that road will be paved, which also will save future costs by the grader no longer needing to go to that road.

Earlier this year, the county board designated several high density road sections as rural residential, which by state law then set the speed limit at 35 miles per hour. Cass County Engineer David Enblom reported he has had mostly positive reactions to the change.

However, one of those roads, County State Aid Highway 75 (Bingo Palace Road) has brought objections from two Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) employees who live in that area.

Leech Lake Tribal Council has expressed support for lowering the speed on that road, though the council has not put an opinion into a resolution or written letter, Enblom said.

It is the MnDOT employees’ view, Enblom said, that changing the speed limit on that road from 55 to 35 miles per hour was too extreme. They want to run a MnDOT traffic survey to determine what speed drivers use on the road if no speed limit is designated at all.

Enblom said one reason for the rural road designation was that people were exceeding the 55 mile per hour speed limit at the same time many other people were pedestrians along the side of that road.

The MnDOT employees reportedly also have questioned the county’s choice to designate a rural residential area there, because, while there are many driveways close together along the road, some of the homes are set back far enough from the road that they are not visible from the end of their driveway – giving a less residential feel to the area.

The county commissioners are concerned enough about pedestrians who have been seriously injured when struck by cars while walking along the road that Tuesday, they tabled a resolution to request a MnDOT traffic survey.

They also cited the fact that Leech Lake Reservation is in the process of building three new housing developments in the area.

The board action essentially continues the rural road designation and leaves the speed limit at 35 miles per hour. The road is 1.25 miles long.