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City plans this summer’s street projects

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The city is finishing up plans for its 2014 infrastructure improvement project, which will repair a set of streets, sewer and water mains in the area between 15th and 12th streets and Vermillion and Pine streets, roughly. The project will affect 145 properties.

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“These streets… have been tired for quite a while,” said City Engineer Nick Egger at the March 3 city council meeting, where the project scope was presented. “This pavement is in need of some serious attention.”

The streets in the area are heavily cracked and city crews have been putting a lot of effort into spray seal coating them, he said, but that only goes so far and the pavement is due for full reconstruction. Some areas will also be narrowed to the city standard of 32 feet.

Along with the new pavement surface, the city will install new concrete curbs and gutters where none currently exists, and existing curbs and gutters will get spot replacements as needed.

The storm sewer system will be upgraded. The city plans to extend larger lines into the area and more catch basins at intersections and mid-block to make sure storm water doesn’t pool on the street surface.

The sanitary sewer system will be rehabilitated using a primarily trenchless process. The old clay pipe there has been susceptible to root intrusion from trees, which means the city has to take extra precautions to make sure it doesn’t back up. Some sewer services to homes will be done also, but only in the right-of-way.

Water mains will be replaced in areas where there’s a history of breaks or repairs, and blocks that don’t have a water main will have it installed.

Sidewalks

In discussing how to handle sidewalk repairs in the area, city staff found that residents were evenly divided. The city originally proposed removing sidewalks all along 14th Street, but a number of residents wanted to keep them, Egger said, while many wanted to see them removed entirely.

Existing sidewalks are discontinuous, and some segments are broken up. After hearing the comments from residents and the council’s operations committee, city staff suggesting repairing existing sidewalks.

On the committee level, councilmember Tony Nelson was the lone vote to remove the sidewalks and give the yards back to the property owners.

“It was a sidewalk to nowhere,” he said.

There’s no park or school nearby, and currently the streets just have three to four blocks of sidewalk that just ends, he said.

Councilmember Ed Riveness, who also is part of the operations committee, told the council he heard residents advocate for the sidewalks for the sake of children, the elderly and handicapped who might be walking through the area. He said the only legitimate reason he heard from residents opposed to the sidewalks was that they didn’t want to shovel the snow off them.

“I thought that if it becomes a primary point in this discussion that they didn’t want to shovel snow, that’s not a reason to deny it for their neighbors who did want it for legitimate reasons,” he said.

The third committee member, councilmember Joe Balsanek, pointed out that neighborhoods change, and that sidewalks provide ramps to street level for people in wheelchairs or crutches can cross the street without much difficulty.

“I believe in sidewalks,” he said. “If it was up to me it would have been great to put them in all the way down to Pine Street.”

Balsanek also pointed out that around Vermillion and Eddy streets, local businesses have several service trucks moving through the neighborhood. He suggested that having sidewalks is a good precaution to keep people out of the way of large vehicles trying to turn into or back into a business.

Councilmember Danna Elling Schultz offered a sidewalk compromise, which was ultimately approved. She suggested leaving the sidewalks in place between Vermillion and Eddy streets due to the business traffic there and taking them out between Eddy and Ashland streets.

Funding

The entire street project was estimated to cost $3.94 million. The cost would be paid for out of city bonded debt, city utility funds and property assessments. The private assessments account for about 15 percent, or about $608,000 of the total funding.

City staff calculated an expected assessment rate of $54.90 per frontage foot. The rate is set according to city policy, which places it at 90 percent of the special benefit of the project as determined by a certified real estate appraisal. Other assessment rates in recent projects around the city have been about $60 per frontage foot.

The city council will hear public comments on the assessment rate at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. March 17.

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Katrina Styx
Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
(651) 319-4501
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