BAXTER — The back end of summer 2019 has blasted the lakes area with a series of monsoon-esque rainstorms — which hasn’t been the best for ongoing work on the Memorywood Drive reconstruction project.

For all that, residents have been more than patient and accommodating to work crews in the area, said Baxter Public Works Director Trevor Walter.

Walter noted back-to-school traffic, a sluggish side project to relocate a gas main, as well as complicated water main repairs and storm sewer redesigns, have also hampered ongoing work on the thoroughfare. As such, the Memorywood Drive reconstruction project has been pushed back five weeks.

“About two weeks of that is due to the gas company. Two weeks is due to added changes for water and stormwater utilities. And another week is due to the weather,” Walter said. “We weren't bad all summer, but when school started, everyone came down Memorywood to get to Baxter Elementary.”

“Yeah,” he added. “It’s been a combination of a little bit of everything.”

Concrete manhole grade adjustment rings are installed Wednesday, Sept. 18, along Memorywood Drive in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Concrete manhole grade adjustment rings are installed Wednesday, Sept. 18, along Memorywood Drive in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

For the most part, the project is within its predetermined cost guidelines — with two exceptions, said Walter, who noted water repairs may be twice as much as initially estimated when it’s all said and done.

In addition, he said, there have been some small adjustments to storm sewer — two discharges into White Sand Lake have been augmented to better treat runoff into the water body.

For all the highs and lows, residents along Memorywood Drive are rolling with the setbacks, Walter said, despite the project’s somewhat contentious stretch during the public comment process.

“We haven’t had hardly any issues with residents. It’s actually pretty good,” Walter said. “Even when we had that water main break at the corner of Cedar Scenic and Clearwater. One resident brought water out, another neighbor brought cookies out. Another brought coffee. A lot of them talked to us, asked how things were going.”

This week, crews are in the process of reconstructing all the manholes and gate valves. Driveways are seeing their final touches and ditches should be finished by the end of Friday, Sept. 20, Walter noted, while Monday and Tuesday marks the beginning of the final layering of bituminous pavement. Come Wednesday and Thursday, the shoulders should be finished, he said, while Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 should see the completion of mulching for stormwater purposes.

“We’re planning on being done by Friday, Oct. 4,” said Walter — a far cry from the Aug. 30 end date initially planned upon, he said, which goes to show how complications have hung up the project at varying turns.

For the sake of the project’s completion, Walter urged drivers to avoid Memorywood Drive if they can and, if they have to use the road, to drive slowly and with caution. He thanked Memorywood Drive residents for their exemplary patience and asked the people of Baxter for a little more understanding as the project heads into the final stretches.

Project recap

The project entails a full-depth reclamation for Memorywood Drive. This means crews are reconstructing the roadway — essentially, chewing up the current roadway into a 7 1/2-inch layer of base material, with an additional 4 inches of bituminous pavement poured on top.

This will retain the road's width of 34 feet, though it would be reconstructed in a way that includes two 11-foot through lanes, as well as two 6-foot bike lanes.

The plan also entails the reconstruction of adjoining driveways to match the new height of the road. "No Parking" signs have been set up and the project required property acquisition for site corners at Clearwater Road. Drainage improvements, such as stormwater ponds and stormwater pipes, are also included.

The estimated total amount assessed for the Memorywood Drive improvements project is $1,784,339, with $1,086,130 for the road, $517,824 for storm sewer water infrastructure and a further $180,385 for city improvements — down from the initial total estimate of $2,215,190. This means the amount assessed to the city (and, as a result, taxpayers) has also been decreased from $1,361,890 to $999,454.