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Cass County Board: 2018 highway projects come in under budget

WALKER—All Cass County 2018 highway construction projects were completed before the weather turned cold and cost less than the bid prices, County Engineer Darrick Anderson reported to the county board Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Those projects included repaving on county state aid highways 12, 38, 61 and 66. The county also completed the two-year improvement to County Highway 77.

There may be some work needed in the spring, he said, so final payments are being withheld until then.

The bridge installation on County Road 129 is complete with a gravel surface and reopened to traffic, Anderson said. It will be paved in the spring after additional fill work on approaches.

County Road 117, which served as an unofficial, local detour in September and October around the state's closure of Highway 371 from Backus to Hackensack normally carries about 200 vehicles per day. It was carrying 3,000 to 4,200 vehicles per day during the Highway 371 closure, Anderson said.

It is a gravel road, so suffered from the heavy use even though the county added a second layer of chloride treatment. The extra chloride hardened the surface so much that it is taking repeated blading to try to remove potholes, Anderson said.

The state's official detour took traffic on paved roads about 10 miles west of Highway 371 to Highway 64, but a lot of local highway users did not want to drive that far out of their way.

Anderson said his staff will add some new gravel to County Road 117 in the spring.

Cass will receive Minnesota Department of Transportation Local Road Improvement Program funding in 2019 to enable the city of Cass Lake to reconstruct Seventh Street North and in 2020 to enable the county to install a roundabout at the junction of county highways 44 and 1 near Pine River.

Anderson reported the foundation was set for the new county highway and Longville Ambulance Service garage joint project at Longville. He said he expects the building to be completed by June 2019.

Improvements to the county's recycling garbage collection center north of Pine River and a storage room within an existing building at the main county highway shop at Walker were completed, Anderson said.

The storage room is climate controlled, so it can house the county's voting equipment after this election. A lease the county had on a building at Hackensack will expire the end of this month, saving the county that lease cost.

Because Highway 77 was such a large and, thus, expensive project, the county has been borrowing ahead on future years' state aid allotments in order to cover all its road construction projects in recent years.

Anderson said he will begin phasing out the borrowing, by dropping the amount borrowed in 2019 against 2020 to $1.4 million and down in 2020 to $400,000. Cass will be on current year state aid only by 2021.

The board approved a revised agreement to enable Crooked Lake Township to continue doing the maintenance work summer and winter on County Highway 58 for $100 per hour for a driver and equipment use, but will drop a prior agreement for that township to also maintain county highways 48 and 55.