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Nisswa: Planned CSAH 13 improvements addressed

About 50 people gathered Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Nisswa City Hall to learn about preliminary plans for improvements to 2.7 miles of County State Aid Highway 13 from Highway 371 (Sportland Corners) to County Road 137. The project isn't scheduled until 2021. Google maps

About 50 people gathered Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Nisswa City Hall to learn about preliminary plans for improvements to 2.7 miles of County State Aid Highway 13 from Highway 371 (Sportland Corners) to County Road 137.

The project isn't scheduled until 2021, but the Crow Wing County Highway Department wants to make residents aware of the project so they can plan together.

Steve Strohschein, project manager with the highway department, gave residents a PowerPoint overview and said crews would continue survey work through fall, analyze the data over winter and spring 2019, and present a more detailed design concept at a public meeting next summer to take further input to incorporate into the design.

After the presentation, Strohschein took questions and comments, saying the highway department doesn't have all the answers to questions yet. Resident Gary Harris was the first to rise, saying he believed he was speaking for all in the room.

"You don't have to sell this project to us," he said. "A better sale would be to get it done next year. We realize that's not going to happen. The quicker this gets done, the better off we'll all be."

According to the PowerPoint presentation, CSAH 13 is in fair condition. Improvements would begin at County Road 137 and move west to Highway 371. Challenges include safety because of horizontal curves and sight distance, rapid pavement deterioration, average traffic of 2,200 cars per day, environment and lakes/wetlands, drainage/deteriorated culverts, narrow right of way and defining that right of way, proximity of homes and cabins, pedestrian and bicyclist conflicts, utility relocation, cultural resources, historic sites (Lake Hubert train depot), public expectation and maintenance.

Project goals include safety for motorists, residents, bicyclists and pedestrians; correcting design deficiencies; building curves to correct safety standards mandated by the state; improving pavement quality; maintaining the roadway's character; defining right of way; protecting the environment and lakes; improving water quality; creating a design that discourages high speed traffic; minimizing property impacts; and gaining community acceptance.

Strohschein encouraged residents contact him with any concerns or questions. Highway department personnel will meet with people at their property if need be.

Resident questions

Asked about funding, Strohschein cited state aid funding but said other factors could lead to Nisswa taxpayers helping to pay for improvements. Those factors include a possible trail along the road for bicyclists and pedestrians, or a possible need for curb and gutter. The county has a cost-share policy with cities and townships for curb and gutter.

"That's information we'll review," Strohschein said. "Typically, a trail comes from a city or township by request."

He did say state safety standards recommend a 6-foot paved shoulder, which would gIve relief for walkers and bikers. And while crews won't be able to get rid of curves because of the number of obstructions, they will make the curves bigger so they'll meet safety standards.

"It's so early in the project, we don't know what that standard will be yet," he said.

Some residents were worried about a loss of property to improve the road. On the road's non-lakeside, houses are right off the road. Strohschein that is one aspect that makes this a challenging project.

"There is road right of way. We will try to stay in road right of way when can," Strohschein said. "We're looking more at, how can we get the best road through there that benefits everybody?

"Most county roads have 100 feet of right of way, and in this one that's physically not possible everywhere. So we hope to build within 66 feet of right of way."

Answering a question about speed limits, Strohschein said the state sets the speed on all roadways so it's consistent. The county plans to design the road consistently. The state will do a speed study when the project is done and will then set the posted speed.

Construction schedule

Summer 2019: Reconfigure the Highway 371-CSAH 13 intersection lanes to have left turn lanes on CSAH 13 because of traffic congestion.

2020: Reconstruct the east half of CSAH 13.

2021: Reconstruct the west half of CSAH 13.

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