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Brainerd City Council: Engineer unveils streets and sewer plan

A half-decade is a long time by any measure, but when a city deals in centuries five years is little more than a blink. During Tuesday's Brainerd City Council meeting, City Engineer Paul Sandy presented the first draft of the five-year capital im...

Brainerd council members Kelly Bevans (left), Jan Lambert and Dave Badeaux listen to the first formal presentation of the five-year capital improvement plan. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd council members Kelly Bevans (left), Jan Lambert and Dave Badeaux listen to the first formal presentation of the five-year capital improvement plan. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch

A half-decade is a long time by any measure, but when a city deals in centuries five years is little more than a blink.

During Tuesday's Brainerd City Council meeting, City Engineer Paul Sandy presented the first draft of the five-year capital improvement plan. It represents a citywide initiative to repair or replace aging infrastructure-both surface pavement, as well as the sewer network beneath-in an incremental manner that prioritizes and addresses the most pressing concerns. The plan also accelerates the cyclical maintenance process as a whole.

At the current rate, Sandy told the council, the entire sewer system would be replaced in cycles of 236 years, which he deemed unsustainable for the city. He said the five-year capital improvement plan-a "living document" the city continually reassesses and projects estimates and guidelines for the immediate future-would serve to make more substantial headway toward mitigating Brainerd's infrastructure issues.

In the end, Sandy noted, it's up to the city council to determine a course for the plan that will find the meeting point between the most reasonable costs with the most effective projects.

"That's the Cadillac plan, that puts us on a good track," Sandy said, "but inevitably it's going to be your decision to figure out what's an affordable plan and what that (sanitation) rate needs to be to have a sewer replacement program that's affordable."

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Sanitation

The capital improvement plan is designed to replace much of Brainerd's aging water and sewer lines-any of the sewer infrastructure predating 1941 is to be replaced in 20 years. Systemically, the piping averages about 50 years in age, and about 35 percent is older than that. Since 1992-which Sandy identified as a year the city took a notable shift toward repairing its current system-Brainerd has expanded its sewer system by more than a quarter (106,000 linear feet), while also replacing 41,000 linear feet in the same time span.

In its early stages, the plan dictates that about 19 miles of pipeline will be replaced by 2022, or roughly a fourth of the 76 miles that make up the system as a whole. Sandy added funding the replacement/rehabilitation process for the sewer system would cost about $400,000 per year, or about $50,000 per block with eight blocks being completed each year during the life of the plan.

Streets

At the same time, the plan also addresses 86 miles of streets that make up the city's roadways, which are intrinsically intertwined with the sewer/water portion of the plan based on their complementary position to the sewers beneath. Currently, the pavement covering Brainerd's streets is just old enough to legally drink, sitting at 21.8 years on average. While certain streets have reached a critical point at which replacement or extensive repairs are necessary, Brainerd's streets as a whole have been rated at 3.3 out of 4, where 4 is optimal.

Annual maintenance, resurfacing or preventative measure costs for Brainerd sit at about $1.7 million. Yearly funding falls primarily under state aid ($760,000), the current improvement fund levy dictated by the 2018 budget ($324,000), state roadway maintenance reserves ($26,000), as well as shortfall covered by bonds, additional levies or assessment proceeds from prior projects (roughly $830,000).

Outline of the first draft

Every year, the city plans to repair or replace eight blocks of sewer sanitation line, with the following areas to be addressed specifically at each juncture of the plan:

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• For 2018, the capital improvement plan calls for reconstruction or resurfacing 0.75 miles of roadway. These improvement are mainly targeted along South Sixth Street and Business Highway 371. This is expected to cost the city about $3.3 million.

• For 2019, tentative projects are the reconstruction or resurfacing of 1.6 miles of roadway. Points of emphasis would be Willow Street and west Brainerd. This is expected to cost the city about $3.3 million.

• For 2020, the city plans to potentially reconstruct or resurface 2.1 miles of roadway. The project would focus on northeast Brainerd primarily. This is expected to cost the city about $2.1 million.

• For 2021, plans are in place to reconstruct or resurface almost 2 miles of roadway. North Brainerd will be primarily targeted by this point in the plan. This is expected to cost the city $2.5 million.

• For 2022, potential projects entail reconstructing or resurfacing 1.9 miles of roadway. This is expected to cost the city about $2 million.

City Engineer Paul Sandy (right) presents outlines of the five-year capital improvement plan, a citywide initiative to repair or replace the city's infrastructure in the coming years. Assistant City Engineer James Fladung looks on. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch
City Engineer Paul Sandy (right) presents outlines of the five-year capital improvement plan, a citywide initiative to repair or replace the city's infrastructure in the coming years. Assistant City Engineer James Fladung looks on. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch

Related Topics: BRAINERD
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