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Baxter City Council: Memorywood street plan gains traction

Intersection of Memorywood Drive and Oak Street in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER—While noting the desirability for a separated pedestrian trail on Memorywood Drive, adding it with the proposed reconstruction of the residential street comes with a significant cost.

Last week, the city council consensus during a workshop supported the other option of reconstructing the street with bike lanes and without a separate trail. Memorywood Drive represents one of Baxter's most populous streets. The city council has been looking at construction options for the 2019 street project.

The project, called a full-depth reclamation by engineers, would reclaim the entire street, as well as remove and reconstruct driveways. A full-depth reclamation means the pavement and the base beneath it are pulverized and recycled for a new base and a new paved surface is applied.

The proposal for a new Memorywood includes a 34-foot wide street and two 6-foot bike lanes. Parking would not be allowed along the street. In addition, street lights would be replaced with LED lights—similar to the lights now found on Excelsior Road.

Aric Welch, consulting engineer with Widseth Smith Nolting, provided the update for the council members seeking input on which of two plans presented had their support. Last fall, the council considered four options before whittling those down.

Welch said proposed improvements include putting in a stormwater pond to collect water before it discharges into Baxter Lake, as well as taking out pipes short of White Sand Lake and putting in a ditch or swale to treat the water before it reaches the lake. The plans call for the removal of a rain garden on Memorywood Drive as the stormwater system would be extended to collect the water there. The project would also entail the purchase of property on Clearwater Road.

The second and more expensive option included a street with 5-foot bike lanes, 2-foot gutters and a 10-foot separated paved trail. But with houses close to the street, adding a trail comes with additional concerns for property loss. This option also meant a plan to remove homes by Cedar Scenic and Cottage Grove Terrace streets for stormwater ponds, as well as purchasing land to get the full 80-foot right of way.

Vice Mayor Todd Holman, who presided at the meeting, said the strong consensus was for the first option and not the one including a separated trail. Holman said he thought the bike lanes would also assist with safety improvements for pedestrian or bicycle movement.

The cost division for the preferred option had the city picking up 53.8 percent or an estimated $953,560 of the project cost with the assessments bringing in 46.2 percent, or an estimated $819,300. The estimates are for a cost of $5,980 per lot.

With the second option, costs to move the street, put in curb and gutter and the trail were expected to be closer to $4.3 million to $4.5 million with the city potentially picking up 84 percent of the project cost, which could be an issue for bonding. The council received the feasibility study report for Memorywood Drive during the regular meeting session.

Council member Steve Barrows and Mayor Darrel Olson were absent.

Memorywood Drive was constructed in 1989. The street is 34 feet wide with two 11-foot driving lanes, an 8-foot shoulder on the west side and a 4-foot shoulder on the east side.

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