10/17/2013 3:57:00 PM City, county officials review early ideas for rebuild of Old Towne Road
by PAUL RIGNELL
Chisago City Council members welcomed Chisago County officials Oct. 8 for early talks on rebuilding the two miles of Old Towne Road from Stinson Avenue to Chisago Boulevard (or County 23). Nearby residents and other users of Old Towne Road, (ranging around 5,000 vehicle trips per day according to one study) will not need to anticipate the street work next summer, however. The project is not planned for the following year, either. It will be nearly three years, in spring 2016, when County Engineer Joe Triplett and other officials plan to bid the project. “Hopefully we will have a spring like two years ago (or 2012), and not like this year,” Triplett said.
City and county officials will be in agreement that their plan would involve an early start to the work and reach completion by early August 2016, literally “repaving the way” for the Ki-Chi-Saga Days parade and other festivities. Triplett, who noted that he lives on a road connected to Old Towne in the project area, said it has taken three years to reach this point for rebuilding this traffic artery, which recently was rated 29 for its condition on a MnDOT scale of 1 to 100. The county applied back in 2010 for the $1.92 million in federal funds that have been approved for the work, requiring a county match of 20 percent. “With the federal process, there are more strings, and more hoops to jump through,” Triplett said. The public is invited to an open house on this project 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Chisago City Hall, or a design workshop Tuesday, Nov. 19, as well.
County officials will note that due to advanced wear on the concrete curb and gutter, transportation engineers no longer recommend simpler, smaller-scale work of mill and overlay for Old Towne Road, where the pavement is at minimum 25 years of age through the corridor. The road work will include efforts to improve drainage, replace utilities and redesign curbs so that all sidewalks will be accessible for disabled users. Residents have the opportunity this fall to share with officials where sidewalks may be appropriate, or where some could be removed, as well as whether on-street parking should be retained or allowed in different areas. Some of the existing sidewalks abut the concrete curb with no grassy median, and the city and county engineers agreed Oct. 8 that adding boulevards could promote safety while creating space for snow storage off of sidewalks.
Triplett said that the county owns all right-of-way to meet the minimum standards for an Old Towne Road rebuild and other safety improvements. Some right-of-way acquisition may be needed for more sidewalks or other features including a possible bike trail. The project will be restricted by wetlands in some locations, including between Chisago Lakes Primary School and the Ecumen Parmly campus as well as areas south and east of Ridge Point Boulevard. The preliminary design phase is scheduled to be completed next April after a second open house in February. County officials would ask the City Council to vote on a concept approving all of the project area in March.