With a virtual public hearing Thursday, April 1, the Baxter City Council has taken another step toward launching the 2021 mill and overlay and full depth reclamation improvement project that looks to revamp a host of roadways throughout Baxter.
There were some spectators for the virtual event, but no one chimed in to address the council on the matter during the public hearing period.
Mayor Darrel Olson said the door — if not physically, certainly electronically — is always open for people to contact city officials if they have questions or concerns regarding the project.
“If some questions come up or you have some things you want to talk about, give staff a call between now and next Tuesday, and you'll certainly have a chance to be heard,” Olson said.
The council will deliberate and vote on whether to launch the project during its next council meeting on Tuesday, April 6. If they decide to move forward, the city will then bid the project out to prospective contractors and schedule a final assessment hearing, before commencing this project this summer, from July through September of 2021.
Much of the project is intended to repair or update the city’s aging roadways, as well as adjacent amenities like gutters, culverts, curbs, rain collection ponds, trails, lights, shoulders and more. Some portions of the roadways will be subject to funding from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
As it is now, the 2021 mill and overlay and full depth reclamation improvement project includes reconstruction of the following roadways:
College Road from 200 feet west of Berrywood Drive to Highland Scenic Road.
Isle Drive, from 430 feet east of Falcon Drive to Glory Road.
Glory Road, from Homestead Drive to Isle Drive.
Perch Lake Drive, from 470 feet south of Homestead Drive to Homestead Drive.
Improvements and modifications to street lights at the Highway 210 intersection of Meredith and Memorywood drives.
Modifications to the Paris Road trailhead of the Paul Bunyan State Trail.
Aric Welch, the Widseth project manager, said the total project cost is estimated to be $2,714,550. The current estimates for cost, Welch said, of the full depth reclamation portion of the project stand at:
Roadway improvements are $1,655,775.
Storm sewer improvements are $190,610.
Trail improvements are $328,780.
For the mill and inlay portions of the project, the cost estimates are:
Roadway improvements are $200,100.
Trail improvements are $52,680.
In addition, $45,105 is slated for median repairs on Glory Road, $178,760 for new street lighting on Highway 210, and modifications to the Paul Bunyan State Trail entrance on Paris Road, which is expected to cost $62,740.
Properties owners, Welch noted, are currently on the hook for $1.2 million — though there has been substantial discussion previously among council members about ways to downsize the project or alleviate pressure on property owners. Historically, the city has provided some assistance to private property owners, while commercial property owners have paid 100% of assessments. It was noted during Tuesday’s presentation that the city will shoulder much of the cost to reconstruct the median on Glory Road and modifications on the Paris Road trailhead, while MnDOT is subsidizing a portion of street light improvements on Highway 210.
Public Works Director Trevor Walter said the city and contractors need to be mindful of the Brainerd Lakes Surgical Center on Isle and Falcon drives, which cannot tolerate vibrations when surgeries are being performed. This represents a scheduling issue, he said, that has to be hashed out between the city and the surgical center.
Council member John Ward, speaking for a concerned resident, asked if it were possible to set up directional signs at the intersection of Glory Road and Isle Drive in order to promote safer driving practices while people travel to, from, or drive by the health care facilities in that area of the city, which could be disrupted by long-term construction and rerouted traffic.
“They get a lot of traffic down there for people that missed the clinics and miss the surgery center,” Ward said. “And there's been some close calls, as I understand, at that intersection.”
Olson said it had come up as an issue in the past, while Walter said that directional signage on private property — which is adjacent to that intersection — is not permitted by city ordinances. This problem is somewhat further complicated, he noted, in that geopositioning apps are often inaccurate or misleading in their presentation of that stretch of roadway, which can further confuse drivers as they pass through.