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Baxter City Council: Residents gather to learn more about proposed Isle Drive Project

BAXTER -- Residents were asked for their input on a multi-million dollar planned extension of Isle Drive in south Baxter that could be completed in 2015.

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Charles Rickart, principal with WSB & Associates, presented a project overview, noting traffic is increasing in the area and there are safety concerns at the Highway 48 and Ironwood Drive intersection now. A roundabout is recommended at the future intersection of the extended Isle Drive to Highway 48. Ironwood Drive would jog slightly to the east on its last segment as it intersects with Isle Drive at the future roundabout. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER - Residents were asked for their input on a multi-million dollar planned extension of Isle Drive in south Baxter that could be completed in 2015.

Mayor Darrel Olson said the Isle Drive project has been part of the city’s long-range plan for a long time in terms of moving traffic off highways and on to parallel corridors for greater safety and traffic flow.

With the development along Isle Drive - as two new office buildings are joining the recently established medical clinics - Olson said the road extension isn’t unexpected but it is probably arriving earlier than previously thought.

“With everything happening down there, the road needs to be punched through,” Olson said. “We’re here tonight to listen to your input as it affects you.”

About 15 residents attended the information session along with city staff, Olson and fellow council members Todd Holman and Jim Klein.

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Charles Rickart, principal with WSB & Associates, presented a project overview, noting traffic is increasing in the area and there are safety concerns at the Highway 48 and Ironwood Drive intersection now. A roundabout is recommended at the future intersection of the extended Isle Drive to Highway 48. Ironwood Drive would jog slightly to the east on its last segment as it intersects with Isle Drive at the future roundabout. The segment of Ironwood Drive that now connects with Highway 48, also known as Highland Scenic Drive, would be removed.

In project layouts, Isle Drive was represented from Falcon Drive to Highway 48 and at the proposed roundabout intersection along with the neighborhood to the west of an extended Isle Drive and the Perch Lake Drive neighborhood south of Homestead Drive.

Isle Drive is presented as a three-lane street with a center left turn lane and right turn lanes as needed.

In addition to work on the streets, new connections are planned to link to the existing regional trail from Isle Drive and a sidewalk is proposed on the southeast side. The street and right-of-way will take up a proposed 100 foot width.

One resident was concerned about losing half of a mile-long segment of the trail she said was the only forested bike trail in the city of Baxter. Another resident said they love the private and quiet area and just want to make sure they retain a buffer. Some residents concurred the safety in crossing Highway 48 would be improved with changes planned at the roundabout intersection.

“We are just in the preliminary stages starting this process,” Rickart said.

The project is estimated to be $5.7 million for utilities and roadway.

Residents near the future intersection of Isle Drive, Highway 48 and Ironwood Drive expressed similar concerns that construction include replanting of pine trees and possibly a berm to retain the neighborhood’s existing quiet setting.

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Proposed in the design is serving the neighborhood homes south of Perch Lake by a side street with a single access to Isle Drive.

With the project comes the opportunity to extend sewer and water to residents along Perch Lake. Because of the low density of residential homes, residents were concerned what the cost may be.

Residents were able to bring up concerns and ask questions as they looked at about a dozen large photographs of the project with the proposed Isle Drive extension superimposed on top.

 

What’s next

The city council will discuss the project at its work sessions, one at 5:30 p.m. today and again on June 17. The work sessions will review design details, the project cost and how it will be funded. Funding is expected to come from state and county aid, special assessments, tax-increment financing and city funds from utilities and property tax levies.

Another public information meeting is expected in early July to look at the final layout and assessments.

On July 15, the city council expects to consider the final concept and authorization of a feasibility study.

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Work on the final design is expected this fall and into the spring of 2015. An assessment hearing is anticipated in February of 2015.

Construction could begin in April of 2015 and be completed by November of 2015.

 

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

Related Topics: BAXTER
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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