Baxter City Council: Cypress Drive corridor project begins
BAXTER--Crews are making the first steps toward transforming the Cypress Drive project into reality. Although, as a result of external factors--including nearby construction, a late winter and uncooperative weather patterns this summer, to say li...
BAXTER-Crews are making the first steps toward transforming the Cypress Drive project into reality.
Although, as a result of external factors-including nearby construction, a late winter and uncooperative weather patterns this summer, to say little of the high influx of tourist traffic-the inevitable congestion of its construction looks to be compounded manyfold. City staffers and community members said as much during the fourth open house of the project the evening of Thursday, July 19.
Work began July 6-so far, primarily in the form of preparatory steps: construction workers are installing tarps and frames for soil erosion control, clearing trees, undertaking miscellaneous removals and grading off existing roadway areas.
This, said Scott Hedlund, the Short Elliott Hendrickson project engineer, is the beginning of the Excelsior Road/Highway 210 portion of the planned Cypress corridor. Plans include overhauled intersections-a roundabout at the current intersection of Excelsior Road and Cypress Drive, as well as a four-way traffic light intersection at the planned intersection of Highway 210 and Cypress Drive.
- The Excelsior Road/Highway 210 portion is expected to reopen by November, Hedlund said, while the entire project is expected to be completed about October 2019.
- Underground infrastructure work is slated for a six-week closure of the Cypress Drive/Excelsior Road intersection to start once storm/sewer pipes and associated materials are delivered. This is expected to start during the next two weeks, with a one-week notice to be given.
- Crews will bore under Highway 210 and the railroad starting the week of Monday, July 23, with night construction of turn lanes on Highway 210 to begin July 30. Crews will be working night hours between 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- There is also ongoing private utility relocation work along the corridor.
Of concern to some who attended the open house at Baxter City Hall was traffic congestion-namely, for tourists forced to navigate the various projects in the conjoined communities Baxter/Brainerd locals are more adapted to.
Otherwise, they said, it's difficult to avoid the South Sixth Street reconstruction project in downtown Brainerd, the ongoing rehaul of Excelsior Road south of Highway 371, the restructuring of College Road going into Glory Road and other spots of construction.
As such, the Cypress Drive project looks to add more obstacles for drivers, as well as cut into alternative routes and detours used by local motorists.
It's impossible to change course now from plans made in January, said Trevor Walter, public works director-not now that construction projects are inked in official contracts, which forces the city to undertake these projects in a narrow window between the late spring (more than a month behind) in early May and the looming potential for an early fall, that could cut construction short.
Until these changes are implemented-which look to reshape traffic flow throughout Brainerd and Baxter-local residents and businesses may have to grin and bear it.
"I can't control Mother Nature," Water repeated at multiple points of the open house. He added: "I can't do it. I wish I could do more, but all I can do is apologize and say this is how it has to be."
A rundown of the project
Currently, Cypress Drive has two lengths-one to the north and one to the south of Highway 210. Plans are to link those parts across the railroad tracks and put a new signal intersection at the Highway 210 crossing near SuperOne Foods. The signal intersection at Golf Course Drive, initially set up as a temporary intersection decades ago, would be taken down.
Phased over several years, the ultimate goal is to connect Cypress Drive north to Woida Road and then to Wise Road and south to Highland Scenic Drive, also known as Highway 48. This would create a parallel corridor to Highway 371, particularly for local traffic versus people passing through the Baxter strip.
It's expected to improve access to the city's industrial park to the south of Highway 210, shorten local trips, increase options for pedestrians and bicycle riders, and give local traffic an alternative to the bustling Highway 371.
Extending Cypress Drive, now in two disconnected halves on either side of Highway 210, means crossing the railroad tracks not far from the Viking Land Harley-Davidson dealership and creating a new signal light intersection on Highway 210.
Left and right turn lanes would be created at the new Cypress/Highway 210 intersection. Turn lanes would also be added to Industrial Park Road.
Proposed improvements include stormwater ponds near the Paul Bunyan State Trail. Multiple stormwater ponds are planned along Cypress from College Road to Industrial Park Road. Other improvements include sanitary sewer and water main to under- or unserved parcels.