The project planned to reconstruct a portion of Brainerd’s Northwest Fourth Street will be delayed a year.

Originally slated to take place later this year, city staff and council members agreed to push the project back to 2021 after a couple hurdles would shorten this year’s construction season.

The scope of the project includes reconstructing Northwest Fourth Street between Jackson Street and Washington Street/Highway 210. A roundabout will be added at the intersection of Jackson and Northwest Fourth streets, with a median extending from that intersection to Washington Street/Highway 210.

City Engineer Paul Sandy told the safety and public works committee Monday, April 6, staff is still in right-of-way negotiations with the Brainerd Amateur Hockey Foundation and Gustafson Properties of Brainerd, who both have property near the project area. The project cannot be bid, Sandy said, until all the rights-of-way are secured.

The new roundabout will encroach on about 16 parking spaces at the Essentia Health Sports Center, home to the hockey foundation. Replacing those parking spots means working in a wetland area. Before that can happen — and before the hockey foundation will give up the right-of-way for the roundabout — Sandy said the city needs to get wetland permits from both the Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.

The permit from the Corps of Engineers will take at least 60 days, followed by 30 days of bidding the project. That means the project can’t be bid for at least another 90 days, and by that time, Sandy said he does not think the project could be finished by the time snow starts.

“Thus the reasoning we’re recommending that we push this project off to 2021 so that we have enough time from staff’s perspective to get all the right of way tied up and have the Jackson and Northwest Third Street plans and everything ready to as one package when the bidding in the early winter timeframe takes off and contractors are looking for more work,” Sandy said.

Council member Kelly Bevans said he was initially against postponing the project, as waiting another year could drive up costs and this summer may have reduced traffic on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But after talking with Sandy and hearing his reasons, Bevans said he got on board with the idea and noted he did not want to jeopardize any of the good work being done with adjacent property owners by trying to fast-track the easement and right-of-way processes.

Turnback with county

Originally, the reconstruction project was to be a joint effort between Brainerd and Crow Wing County, with portions of the area falling under both jurisdictions. That changed after county officials offered earlier this year to turn a portion of Northwest Fourth Street and Riverside Drive/County Road 20 over to the city.

The two entities agreed they have different priorities for the stretch of road between Beaver Dam Road and Washington Street/Highway 210, with city officials historically wanting to add pedestrian and bike lanes.

In the transfer agreement, which city council members signed Monday, Brainerd will control the roadway as of May 1 and subsequently the entire reconstruction project. In lieu of a cost share agreement for the project, the county agreed to pay the city a lump sum of $524,361 to cover the following expenses:

  • County’s construction and engineering costs,

  • All of the city’s construction costs,

  • Half of the city’s engineering costs,

  • $121,322 for future mill and overlay on the road,

  • $25,000 for future restriping on the road.

The city will assume maintenance costs for the road going forward and will also receive roughly an additional $20,000 a year in state aid funds. With the county’s contribution to future mill and overlay projects that could make the road last another 20 years, Sandy estimates the city will gain about $400,000 in additional state aid funds over the time to use on other road projects.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.