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Baxter City Council: Potholes prevail while Baxter Drive project parked

Baxter Drive, listed in poor condition, was pulled from the 2017 construction list and pushed back a year. Most of Baxter Drive is a private street, constructed when the Westgate Mall was built. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
Street projects planned for 2017 are noted on the map. A public hearing is slated May 8 for input on the proposed construction schedule. 2 / 2

BAXTER—Baxter Drive, initially reviewed for inclusion in the 2017 road construction schedule, was pushed back a year.

Baxter Drive was built in 1979 with the construction of the Westgate Mall. The street runs between the mall and the Lakes 12 Theatre linking Excelsior Road with Highway 210. It was last resurfaced in 2010. Dotted with potholes and patches, it is now listed in poor condition.

Other known problems with Baxter Drive include:

• Being non-compliant Americans with Disabilities Act for pedestrians curb ramps,

• Having non-working street lights with ownership of the lights in question,

• A sinkhole near the south mall entrance,

• Review of curb and gutter for replacement as needed,

• Work on the storm sewer.

A full-depth reclamation is recommended for Baxter Drive. Last month, the council asked Widseth Smith Nolting to look into a possible pedestrian path on Baxter Drive. Options included a concrete sidewalk on the west side of the street. That option had challenges, including the need to build a retaining wall and partially fill an existing stormwater basin by the Westport Shopping Center. Two existing street lights would also need to be relocated with this option.

A second option included a bike lane on the street, extending from the Fairview Road service drive to the mall. A third option included narrowing the 65-foot street and making a separated trail or sidewalk on the Baxter Drive's west side, thus avoiding the complications listed with the first option.

A recommendation with the project is to move the south Westgate Mall entrance about 30 feet to the north or toward the movie theater. Widseth Smith Nolting reported moving the Westgate Mall entrance would line it up with the entrance to the Westport Shopping Center on the other side of Baxter Drive. It would require modifications to the BlackRidge Bank and Westgate Mall parking lots with the bank gaining four parking stalls and parking loss to the mall expected to be minimal.

Baxter Drive is one of the streets in the city that is semi-public as a mix of city street—closer to Highway 210—and a private roadway stretching between the mall and the movie theater.

Cost for a reconstruction of Baxter Drive is expected to cost $102.55 per foot. The city proposed paying about 36 percent or $54,575 of the cost with $96,395 assessed to the property owners. The total was estimated to cost $150,975 for the commercial street.

The city council Tuesday called for a hearing on the 2017 improvement plans with the exclusion of Baxter Drive, allowing more time to work with the mall. The council set a public hearing to gain feedback on the proposed construction projects for 6:30 p.m. May 8 at city hall.

Streets slated for the 2017 project

Goedderz Road—from the Industrial Park Road to Dogwood Drive—and Dogwood Drive itself, from College Road to Industrial Park Road are on the project list. Both Goedderz Road and Dogwood Drive, considered in good condition, were constructed in 1995 with the Baxter Industrial Park improvements.

Residential streets reviewed as part of the 2017 construction projects include:

• Oak Street—from Meredith Drive to Memorywood Drive.

• Marohn Road—from the cul-de-sac to Highland Scenic Road.

• Mountain Ash Drive—from Highland Scenic Road to Parkwood Drive.

• Wedgewood Drive—from Mountain Ash Drive to Parkwood Drive.

• Lakewood Lane—from Wedgewood Drive to Mountain Ash Drive.

Ground-penetrating radar was used to check the pavement thickness and supporting base layers. Samples were taken from pavement cores and auger borings as well.

All of the residential roadways were also listed in good condition in 2016 in the pavement rating survey. Mayor Darrel Olson asked how he could explain construction on these streets when they were in good condition just a year ago. Trevor Walter, public works director, said following the city's pavement management plan, they are trying to stay ahead of the road deterioration. The Widseth Smith Nolting report noted the residential streets were constructed between 1991 and 1998. If the city waits until the roads are 28 years old they will have gone too far and fixing them will go from a mill and overlay project to a more expensive full-depth reclamation—where the entire roadway is replaced, Walter said.

Plans are to open bids on the 2017 projects in June with construction to start in July and August. The work is expected to be completed before school resumes in the fall.

The total project is estimated to cost $648,525 with $309,965 for the residential portion, $338,560 for the work in the industrial park area.

The residential project involves 88 lots with an estimated cost of $3,522 per lot. The city would pay $24,655 toward the residential mill and overlay projects.

The industrial park portion will be measured by assessable frontage and comes with an estimated cost of $66.31 per foot.

Full-depth reclamation projects, recommended for the commercial/industrial park streets, have a 12-year payback period with an estimated interest rate of 4.75 percent. The city isn't expected to contribute any money to the industrial park area.

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