A roundabout may be in the future for the intersection of County Highway 77 and Nokomis Avenue, otherwise known as the entrance to Grand View Lodge.
The Crow Wing County Board unanimously agreed Feb. 22 to support an application by the city of Nisswa seeking close to $1.25 million in funding from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Local Road Improvement Program. The proposal — which includes a city street, a county highway and a private entrance to The Pines Golf Course — seeks to correct what County Engineer Tim Bray characterized as increasing congestion at the intersection.
“We have been in discussions with Nisswa and Grand View and residents down there for the better part of a decade, trying to find a solution for this intersection congestion that’s been developing over the years there,” Bray said. “ … We believe it’s a great project, it just hasn’t risen to priority over some of the other intersection improvements we have and this funding source would certainly help.”
Bray said if the grant is approved, the county would share costs in the project with the city according to the county’s cost participation policy.
Commissioner Paul Koering asked why the city was applying for the funds instead of the county. Bray pointed to the involvement of a city street and said he believed the city applying would make it more likely the application would be successful and it would not be competing against county applications.
Koering asked Bray whether the project could go forward without the county approving the design. Bray said that was correct, noting the highway department has a history of working with other jurisdictions on joint projects and there would be mutual involvement throughout the process.
Although the project is not included in the county’s five-year road improvement program, Bray explained at the behest of Chairman Steve Barrows this would not replace any of those already part of the plan if it gained funding.
“Our priorities are set by the need but also the amount of money we have in the system to address those needs and 100% of the construction cost is covered in this particular case,” Bray said. “ … We maintain our finances here at the highway department to carry a fund balance to be able to do these types of projects once they come to us, kind of short notice. And so, it would not change our priorities and we would have the funds available.”
Breezy Point application
Sponsorship of a second application for Local Road Improvement Program funding also garnered unanimous board approval. Brought forth by the cities of Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes and townships of Ideal and Jenkins, the proposed project would complete improvements to Buschmann, Akerson, Nelson and Wild Acres roads for $1.25 million. Bray noted because this project does not include county highways or roads, the county’s role would be limited to assisting with minor contract administration and as a pass-through fiscal agent for the funds.
The application period for the MnDOT grant program ends March 3. The Minnesota Legislature passed a bonding bill in October 2020 adding another $75 million directed toward local road improvements.
In other business, the county board:
Approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for rehabilitation and lining of culverts under the Paul Bunyan State Trail that are part of the Ditch 13 system. Under the agreement, the state will pay all costs for repairing the failing culverts and will reimburse the county’s costs for administration and inspection to the Ditch 13 fund.
“This agreement is critically important for Ditch 13,” a request for board action stated. “It would take three years’ worth of assessments to fund this culvert lining project using the current Ditch 13 Assessment. … If the culverts fail and have to be replaced, it will impact Ditch 13’s flow, trail use and take more time to complete the replacement; creating higher costs associated with digging up the trail and replacing the culverts.”
Agreed to tax abatements on 45 parcels previously identified as vacation rentals throughout the county in reaction to a change in how the state will handle taxing these properties.
In 2019, the county reclassified those on the list as commercial under direction from the Minnesota Department of Revenue in anticipation of taxation based on this classification. In October 2020, however, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill applying a new classification to these properties, essentially the same as residential non-homestead property instead of a seasonal recreational or commercial property.
The abatements brought these taxes payable in 2021 more in line with the updated classification change.
Hosted a public hearing on an amendment to the all-terrain vehicle ordinance prohibiting ATVs from operating in the ditch on County Highway 66. The update was not new, but was instead inadvertently left off when the ordinance was changed in 2018 to allow ATVs to operate on the shoulder of all county roads and highways.
The 2016 amendment to the ordinance was put in place to reduce erosion and protect water quality along the stretch of highway close to Big Trout Lake’s shoreline.
Authorized the highway engineer to enter into a contract with Houle Excavating LLC in the amount of $449,569.20 for work on the bridge over the Nokasippi River on County Highway 23, between Upper South Long Lake and South Long Lake.
Authorized the highway engineer to enter into a contract with Kraemer Trucking & Excavating Inc. in the amount of $2,693,920.78 for County Highway 13 reconstruction between Highway 371 and County Road 137. Construction is expected to begin in April and be completed by October.
Approved a final payment to Anderson Brothers Construction Co. of $2,121,908.54 for intersection improvements on County Highway 13 and County Highway 77 at Highway 371. The final payment was 6.2% below the original expected amount.
A second final payment was made to Anderson Brothers for bituminous surfacing in three locations: County Highway 11 from Highway 6 to the Aitkin County line, County Road 105 from County Highway 11 to McNeal Road, and County Road 133 from Highway 6 to the Aitkin County line. This payment totaled $4,289,988.46, 4.4% over the original expected amount.
Approved the hirings of Kathleen Glassman, program specialist in community services, and Cally Roering, legal assistant in the county attorney’s office.
Accepted the departure of Alex Vukelich, part-time sheriff’s deputy, and approved replacement staffing for the position.