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Baxter City Council: Knollwood project has council considering a change to its assessment policy

Proposed improvements could alter parking along Knollwood and change the trail that runs along side the roadway with ADA compliance requiring the addition of a boulevard if triggered by a project.

Map of the Knollwood Drive project in the city of Baxter
The project area, for the street and the trail, runs along the well-traveled Knollwood Drive in Baxter from Highland Scenic Road to Foley Road.
Contributed / City of Baxter

In two years, Knollwood Drive, from Highland Scenic Drive to Foley Road, is slated for road and trail construction work.

During an Aug. 17 work session, staff sought feedback from the Baxter City Council on how to go forward after completing a draft feasibility study. One issue is the trail, constructed in 2000, was at the time built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Those standards have been updated to require a boulevard be installed whenever possible in order “to eliminate the ‘roller coaster effect’ especially in areas with multiple driveway crossings, without a boulevard it is near impossible to maintain drainage while meeting ADA cross slope requirements across driveways,” the report stated.

The answer is installing a boulevard between the trail’s edge and the back of the curb.

Aric Welch, the city’s consulting engineer from Widseth, provided the overview to the council.

Knollwood Drive is a 36-foot wide road with curb and gutter and the 12-foot shared use trail. It has about 1,900 vehicles on it per day, an increase from 1,600 vehicles in 2001. Welch said there might be an issue with the water and the fire hydrants will have to be fixed on the route after deteriorating over time.

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There are an estimated 60 assessable lots on the project. For a new roadway with sewer and water, the estimated cost would be about $6,000. Welch said when he was putting together estimated costs, he was looking at the city picking up 50% of the typically assessable project costs to keep assessment costs on Knollwood in the $7,000 per lot range. The city’s current policy is 100% assessment of full depth reclamation projects for benefiting properties up to 26 feet in roadway width.

BaxterCouncilRoad.jpg
Aric Welch, consulting engineer, left, presents options for Knollwood Drive during a Baxter City Council meeting with Council member Connie Lyscio, Zach Tabatt, Mayor Darrel Olson, City Administrator Brad Chapulis and Assistant City Administrator Kelly Steele. Council member Mark Cross joined the meeting a short time later. Council member John Ward was absent for health reasons. Contributed

Baxter Public Works Director Trevor Walter had a concern about publicly showing a change to the assessment policy that could change all the projects citywide possibly, noting residents will want to know what the assessments could be when they get to the public meeting. Council member Mark Cross said they also need to know where all that money would be coming from to pay the city’s portion of the bill. After outlining the options, Welch said the goal would be to nail down which one the city wants within six months. For council member Zach Tabatt it also raised the need to have a conversation before this goes much further about costs and what should the average single family household pay for the maintenance of the road in front of their house.

Mayor Darrel Olson said he was also concerned about the numbers, noting an issue with this project comes from the number of the side streets and property not part of assessments for the project.

The council previously agreed to cap assessment at $15,000 for developed neighborhoods when putting in city services of water and sewer in areas served by wells and septic tanks. Olson said one of the things they need to decide is whether those two numbers are the goal with $7,500 for the roadway project joining the $15,000 cap and if that is the goal, determine whether the city has the money to make it happen.

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There was no decision during the council workshop. Walter said they need to keep talking about it in-house.

Proposed improvements presented

The numbers listed for these options include the city paying 50% of the typical assessable project cost but that isn’t a confirmed plan with the city.

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Option 1

  • Reconstruct the existing 36-foot wide urban roadway with 12-foot wide northbound lane, 14-foot wide southbound lane with 8-foot parking lane.

  • Get additional easement on the east side of the street.

  • Reconstruct the 12-foot wide trail to a 10-foot wide trail to save on property acquisition with a 5-foot wide boulevard space.

  • Key: This option would affect all east side property owners. Construction would be challenged on the south end of the job as those driveways are more steep along the lake and fall off the right-of-way.

  • Estimated cost: $2,578,730 with the city picking up $2,129,270.

  • Estimated cost per lot: $7,491.

Option 2

  • Construct a 28-foot wide urban roadway (the west curb would remain where it is) with two 12-foot wide travel lanes and no parking lane on either side.

  • Reconstruct the 12-foot wide trail that is there to make it 10-feet wide and create a 5-foot wide boulevard.

  • Key: This can be done in a smaller footprint than actually exists but sacrifices the parking lane.

  • Estimated cost: $2,236,995 with $1,805,320 for estimated city cost.

  • Estimated cost per lot: $7,195.

Option 3

  • Construct the same 32-foot wide urban roadway with the west curb in the same place with two 11-foot wide travel lanes and an 8-foot parking lane in the southbound direction.

  • Reconstruct existing 12-foot wide trail to 10 feet and add the 5-foot boulevard space.

  • Key: This shrinks things down to get to the same footprint that is out there right now.

  • Estimated cost: $2,306,905 with the city paying $1,873,725.

  • Estimated cost per lot: $7,220.

Option 4

  • Do nothing.

  • Maintain the existing road surface with crack sealing, patching and mill and inlay, microsurfacing.

  • This would mean the new ADA trail standards would not be triggered.

  • Key: Welch said they could keep going and get all the life out of the road that is possible.

Option 5

  • Full depth reclamation of the existing roadway.

  • Remove the existing trail, eliminating the ADA issue.

  • Key: Questionable how popular this approach would be with residents.

Other proposed improvements include addressing drainage issues through grading, replace curb and gutter and valley gutters, LED lighting, reconstruct sanitary manholes, replace driveways to the right-of-way/easement line, install new signs and pavement markings among other items.
RELATED: Baxter City Council: Time is ticking on train whistles as city looks to create quiet zone
The snowplowing equipment the city has for trails needs to have a 10-foot width. Part of the discussion is whether the trail system would need to be maintained during the winter. A wrinkle with Knollwood is it is a Safe Routes to Schools route. There are no dedicated bike lanes on Knollwood.

Looking at the options, Tabatt brought up the savings for the city down the road with a street with a smaller footprint when it needs work again.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.

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BaxterCouncilRoad.jpg
Aric Welch, consulting engineer, left, presents options for Knollwood Drive during a Baxter City Council meeting with Council member Connie Lyscio, Zach Tabatt, Mayor Darrel Olson, City Administrator Brad Chapulis and Assistant City Administrator Kelly Steele. Council member Mark Cross joined the meeting a short time later. Council member John Ward was absent for health reasons. Contributed

BaxterCouncilRoad.jpg
Aric Welch, consulting engineer, left, presents options for Knollwood Drive during a Baxter City Council meeting with Council member Connie Lyscio, Zach Tabatt, Mayor Darrel Olson, City Administrator Brad Chapulis and Assistant City Administrator Kelly Steele. Council member Mark Cross joined the meeting a short time later. Council member John Ward was absent for health reasons. Contributed

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICSMINNESOTABAXTER
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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