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Baxter alters project to sidestep MnDOT

In 2011, Baxter reported MnDOT completed a project along Highway 371 that left multiple intersections experiencing flooding and unsafe driving conditions during rainstorms.

Snow coverd Baxter City Hall
Baxter City Hall just off Memorywood Drive. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — Not willing to wait on a Minnesota Department of Transportation decision, the Baxter City Council approved moving forward with the 2022 road construction and reconstruction improvements project, without the Design Road and the Dellwood Drive storm sewer extension.

The council passed the resolution to put the project out for bidding in its Tuesday, Jan. 18, council meeting consent agenda, as there was no one present who deemed the resolution controversial.

Council members Mark Cross and John Ward were absent from Tuesday’s work session and the council meeting.

In a work session prior to the council meeting, Baxter Public Works Director Trevor Walter said MnDOT would need four to six months to go through all the information before making a decision on its financial responsibility.

“We met with MnDOT on Jan. 11 to talk about that cost-sharing of the stormwater improvements along Design Road and the Dellwood Drive with the Trunk Highway 371,” Walter said. “The bottom line is, when we had that meeting, is that MnDOT needs time to figure out if they'll participate, for one, how much they'll participate and when can they participate.”

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The council’s report states that in 2011, MnDOT completed a mill and overlay project along Highway 371. The project included reconstruction of the accesses at Design Road and Clearwater Road.

Improvements to these intersections included the construction of an additional 2 acres of driving surface in the Highway 371 corridor between Excelsior Road and Woida Road. The storm sewer and curb inlets that tie directly into the city’s storm sewer system were also extended by MnDOT, along with existing ditches and swales that were filled in, which were previously serving as stormwater holding and infiltration areas.

After those improvements were made, Baxter reported the following intersections experienced flooding and unsafe driving conditions during high-intensity rainfall events:

  • Edgewood Drive and private drive to Camping World,
  • Dellwood Drive and Design Road,
  • Dellwood Drive and Clearwater Road.

Outlined in the project’s feasibility report, MnDOT's share of the storm sewer improvements is estimated at $441,490 while the city’s share of the project is estimated at $127,470.
At the special city council meeting Jan. 6, Walter said if MnDOT does not participate in the project, the Design Road and the Dellwood Drive storm sewer extension will not be completed, as the cost burden would be placed solely on the city.

The report also stated city staff and Widseth believe the city has a solid case but it will likely take additional time to provide MnDOT with the information it requires to act on the request.

Because of the anticipated additional time required to gain MnDOT approval and cost-share participation with the considerable cost of the improvements, city staff recommended removing Design Road and the Dellwood Drive storm sewer extension from the project.

Removal of the Design Road improvements and Dellwood Drive storm sewer extension results in the overall estimated project cost being lowered from $3,014,345 to $1,341,805.

The city would still be able to order the Design Road and the Dellwood Drive storm sewer improvements later this year if the MnDOT funding issue can be resolved.

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The improvement hearing was Jan. 6, which means the council would need to order the improvement before July 6 to avoid being required by Minnesota state law to have another improvement hearing.

With the passing of the resolution, the city will advertise for bids. Those bids are scheduled to be received and opened publicly Feb. 15.

Baxter’s next city council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 2, as the Crow Wing County Republican caucus is scheduled Feb. 1.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme, call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com.

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2020, covering Public Safety and the Baxter City Council.
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