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Woida Road project hits deadend for now

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

BAXTER — Residents on Woida Road weighed the costs to improve the road with desires for a wider pedestrian friendly road and city sewer.

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Concerned for the economic times, the Baxter City Council approved going forward with a plan to replace the existing road with one that will last for 10 years and hope for better economic times when the road wears out. Adding curb and gutter and city sewer would be the right thing and no one doubts that, Mayor Darrel Olson said, but the numbers were just staggering with a $2.8 million project. Costs per lot would have been more than $20,000.

“Times are making everyone nervous,” Olson said.

Council member Jim Klein said if residents want sewer, a petition of 75 percent is needed.

“It’s in your hands,” Klein said.

Residents questioned how long they’ll wait for sewer. Others spoke of a desire to have a wider road to allow pedestrian and bike traffic. Even one wider shoulder was suggested as an option for people or bikes. An older resident said the council should leave the road as it, put on a seal coat, and go with that at this point. People are losing their homes, he said, adding now is not the time to upgrade a road he said isn’t really that bad. Residents also said improving the road would add to an existing speeding problem.

“These are all great points and the speeding issue we’ve heard that before, but I just want to make sure everyone understands, too, the city is paying for 55 percent of the this project,” said council member Rob Moser.

Moser said a walking or bike path eventually should occur but widening any part of the road at this point adds to the project by creating more stormwater needs and triples the project cost quickly.

“It’s a good idea,” Moser said. “I wish it was easy to do.”

In the end, the council put forward a motion to go ahead with the project, but Klein opposed. With four/fifths of the council needed to approve the road project, it failed.

After residents spoke, Klein suggested tabling the subject and bring it back later. He said he’d like to see sewer there, but at least have a bike path on one side of the road. Olson said if more is added now when sewer does come to the area, there is more to rip up.

“Woida is certainly one of the worst in terms of shape, if we don’t do something soon we’ll have to do something with the subsurface of that road,” Moser said, noting the Woida Road project would be like the city’s approach to Clearwater. “In the end, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

“I think this is the best most cost-effective solution at this time,” said Council member Todd Holman.

With Council member Mark Cross absent from Wednesday’s meeting. Olson wondered if it may be better to wait until the full council was present.

Delaying the vote may have put the project back before the council in October. Trevor Walter, city public works director, said by then it may be better to put it off until the spring and hope for a better price, although it wouldn’t change the individual assessments. The council heard a petition was going house to house in the Wildflower Drive neighborhood but no one was sure what response it was getting.

In June, the council reviewed plans for the street overlay of Woida Road from Inglewood Drive to about 500 feet east of Wildflower Drive. The council ultimately agreed with the option that reclaimed the existing pavement by grinding it up and put down two new inches of blacktop.

The road is expected to last about 10 years. The total project is expected to cost $165,807. The cost to property owners is expected to be $2,000 per residential lot.

The city identified 37 existing residential lots — 25 homes, one former private school, one commercial business and 11 undeveloped lots — that are next to and will benefit from a new Woida Road.

The road assessments would have brought in $74,000. The remaining $91,807 would have fallen on the city.

Assessments would have been amortized during a five-year assessment term at an interest rate estimated at 5.4 percent. On the $2,000 assessment and with the interest included, the estimated yearly payment was expected to be $467.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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