Quiet railroad crossings move a step closer in Baxter
The city filed a notice of intent with the Federal Railroad Administration
BAXTER — Quiet railroad crossings, something in the works for the city of Baxter for years, took on a new note with formal notification to the Federal Railroad Administration declaring the city’s intent to have no train horns sound in the city.
Baxter Assistant City Engineer Trevor Thompson noted the railroad engineer can still sound the horn if they determine it is needed.
Sending the notice of intent is the city's next step on its way to establishing a quiet zone. The preliminary budget for the quiet zone project is $700,000, the city of Baxter reported in documents for the Feb. 21 City Council meeting.
To get the quiet zone, the city has been putting in the required safety measures such as gates, lights, medians, curb, pavement marking and signs noting there is no train horn at each public at-grade or ground crossings in the city. The BNSF Railway line through Baxter averages six trains per day at a maximum speed of 49 mph. The quiet zone would be in effect 24 hours a day. Pedestrian crossings are also required to be updated with a half-size stop sign with cross bucks, and the No Train Horn sign.
The at-grade crossings in the city
- Timberwood Drive, with an annual average daily traffic count of 675 from 2010. A proposed improvement is to remove the existing trail on the road’s east side.
- Highland Scenic Road, average daily traffic of 3,450 vehicles per 2019.
- Knollwood Drive (which will be permanently closed).
- Inglewood Drive crossing will be constructed in the summer of 2023. It is proposed to be a four-lane divided road with three northbound lanes and one southbound lane and a trail. The projected daily traffic when the road opens in 2023 is anticipated to be 3,500 vehicles. The trail will also have flashing lights and gates.
- Elder Drive is a divided two lane road with an average daily traffic count of 6,400 vehicles per day in 2019.
- Highway 371 has six lanes with four lanes going north (counting turn lanes) and two lanes going south. The average daily traffic count was 21,900 vehicles per a 2019 count.
- Cypress Drive, a four-lane divided road and trail, had 2,200 vehicles per day on average in a 2019 county. This crossing was constructed with the idea of the quiet zone in Baxter.
In other business, the council:
Approved a peddler’s license for Renewal by Andersen, allowing the company to go door-to-door in Baxter promoting their home door and window products for sale. The company plans to contact residents between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. between March 1 and Dec. 31.
Approved a conditional use permit to allow indoor/outdoor entertainment events at Jack Pine Brewery in 2023 in the tap room and the patio area and approved a temporary liquor license amendment for four events — Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend, Labor Day weekend and Jacktoberfest Sept. 29-30 at the Edgewood Drive brewery.
Accepted the bid from Knife River Corp. of $1,676,520.50 as the lowest responsible bid for the 2023 Knollwood Drive Improvements Project. The total cost of the project is expected to be $2,212,841 with contingencies and estimated costs for engineering, legal, finance and other related costs. The city is estimated to pay $1.6 million and the cost proposed to be assessed to benefiting property owners is $600,673.
Approved a development agreement with Menards as the business is proposing to expand its lumber yard to include newly purchased property on the store’s east side and an employee parking lot in the northeast corner of Pearl Drive and Whispering Woods Lane. According to city records, Menards is proposing to build a new retaining wall and a 24-foot drive lane on the lumber yard’s east side, requiring changes in the stormwater pond that is now east of the building.
Approved Bolton & Menk agreements for professional services not to exceed $14,704 for capital improvement plan and pavement management and for the 2023 microsurfacing project not to exceed $29,952.
Adopted parking restrictions along Novotny Road from Highway 371 to 700 feet west of Edgewood Drive. As part of the 2023 Novotny Road construction project, the road will be built as a three-lane road with a two-way center left turn lane, which will mean no parking on either side of the road.
Approved an agreement with Widseth for professional engineering service for 2024 Design Road and Highway 371 stormwater improvements not to exceed $75,000. The 2023 microsurfacing project listed included Inglewood Drive (from Highway 210 to Excelsior Road) and these residential streets west of Inglewood Drive and north of Excelsior Road — Cherrywood Drive, Dahlin Road, Calcutta Road, Clearwater Court, Rockrose Drive, Cosmos Road, Blackberry Court, Barberry Court, Kimberlee Drive, Kimberlee Court, Atwater Road, and Jewelwood Drive (south of Jadewood Drive).
Roads picked for microsurfacing typically “have slight to moderate distress,” Bolton & Menk reported. Microsurfacing is described as using a mixture of water, asphalt emulsion, small crushed rock and chemical additives to put on the roadway. It is reported to harden quickly allowing the road to be reopened to vehicle traffic in about an hour. Parts of Clearwater Road and Inglewood Drive were microsurfaced in 2021 as a pilot project.
Approved a construction and maintenance cost sharing agreement with Crow Wing County for the 2023 Cypress Drive and Douglas Fir Drive improvements project.
Approved Pratt’s Affordable Excavating contract for $11,250 for winter tree clearing of about 1.5 acres of trees along Cypress and Douglas Fir drives south of Hinckley Road. To protect the endangered northern long-eared bat, the trees need to be cut during the inactive season for the bats, which is Nov. 1 to March 31, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Another contract for $23,880 was awarded to Pratt’s Affordable Excavating for winter tree clearing of 2.4 acres of trees on city-owned land along Cedar Scenic Road and Clearwater Road for the street and quiet zone project.
Supported the 2023 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainablity and Equity discretionary grant program for Highway 210 work in Brainerd and Baxter for safety, mobility and multimodal improvements. Baxter reported the Minnesota Department of Transportation will use money from the grant to offset costs to Brainerd and Baxter if they are successful with the grant application.
Approved using alcohol forfeiture funds to purchase less lethal weapons systems and rifle equipment. The less lethal systems are launchers allowing officers to maintain what the city described as a safe distance in dealing with individuals in crisis situations who have the potential to inflict harm on themselves or others. The police department plans to purchase three additional launchers with a goal of having one available for each squad car on patrol. The city has three systems currently. Each system costs about $1,150.
Declared cost assessments and preparation of proposed assessments for the 2023 Cypress Drive and Douglas Fir Drive project.
Current total cost projected to be $5,098,620 — with a breakdown of the city paying $1,688,572, Crow Wing County paying $1,050,537 and benefiting property owners assessments bringing in $2,359,511.
The earlier feasibility study had the total cost of $4,212,293 — broken down with the city paying $1,370,559, the county paying $655,000 and assessments bringing in $2,186,734.
“The above totals include $245,356 for Bid Alternate A for extending sanitary sewer into the 4-Plex apartments property in the northwest corner of the Cypress Drive/ CSAH 48 intersection,” the public works department noted in a report to the council. “The intent is to only recommend awarding the alternate if there is a written assessment agreement executed with the property owner.”
Some of the reasons listed for a cost difference were increased tree clearing and the need for a separate winter tree clearing contract, new lighting on Cypress Drive instead of reusing 20-year old lighting, lighting improvements on Douglas Fir Drive, using sod to restore turf instead of seed, significant increases in sewer and water construction costs, general increase in construction costs — notably for concrete and pavement, increased roadway design and a number of different plans for the Berrywood Drive and Brainerd Public Utilities intersections, future trail accommodations on the north side of Highway 48, curb and storm sewer changes on Cypress Drive, multiple preliminary layouts, coordination on modifications on the four-plex apartment buildings, among other changes.
Set a public hearing at 6 p.m. March 16 at City Hall for the proposed assessment for the 2023 Cypress Drive and Douglas Fir Drive project.
Approved a school resources officer agreement with Brainerd School District for 2022-2023.
Met in closed session to discuss property negotiations.
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.