July 14, 2005 at 6:45 a.m.
Cty. Rd. 20 bridge is next targeted project
Project underway in Center City is first in series of channel improvements local group is working to accomplish
The day would dawn, they felt, when boats would be able to travel from South Center, under the highway into North Center, through the quiet backwater under County Road 20, into North Lindstrom Lake...then loop south back under the highway into South Lindstrom Lake.
The undersized culverts that connect the lakes now barely big enough for canoes and fishing boats-- would be replaced.
The channel reconnection project underway in Center City is one of CLRA’s goals, a first step on the trail toward CLRA’s goal.
CLRA President Joe Tromburg remarked that the construction itself will cause some inconvience along the highway and in Center City; but he’s convinced the end result will be well worth the hassle.
Tromburg explained that CLRA first concentrated its energy on improving the North Center-South Center Lakes channel because the highway project was an ideal time to achieve channel improvements. “Or it could be another 50 years,” declared Tromburg.
Beginning about seven years ago, CLRA members worked with Center City, the Department of Natural Resources and others promoting the concept of creating safer, improved Chisago chain-of-lake connections.
The state held an informational meeting in Lindstrom to get public feedback on highway plans throughout the corridor, and MnDOT had laid out a drawing of Highway 8 on a dozen sheets of paper, over several long tables in the Lindstrom Community Center.
Tromburg recalled the public was asked to put a post-it note wherever on the map they had a concern and briefly describe their issue. “There were something like 35 notes on the map, right where the Center City channel was, by the end of the meeting,” said Tromburg. He credits MnDOT with getting the message, and lo and behold a new channel was included into the highway design process. The channel is now being constructed west of the existing channel in Center City, along with realignments of intersections at the bank and Park island and at the Middle School-Dew Drop neighborhood. Also there’s going to be a new 4-way intersection at Pleasant Knoll and Crescent Beach, and the Calendar Isle access road will not connect to Hwy. 8.
It helped move along the new channel proposition when the DNR Regional Hydrologist also supported the concept.
Tromburg mentioned that Mike Mueller backed navigable connections due to the fact that the lakes were originally inter-connected and known as one “big lake” before railroad beds were filled in and roads were built and city boundaries advanced.
Having a larger and safer channel in Center City also means the sheriff’s water patrol doesn’t have to take out of one lake and put the patrol boat back in at another access point just to respond to a call. The whole north and south Center Lakes will be accessible.
Tromburg said CLRA was successful because the reconnection idea was supported, “...by about 90 percent of the people.”
Tromburg mentioned there are some who have concerns about the value of their lakeshore jumping wildly because of the enhanced navigability but he feels that lakeshore is increasing in value anyway. This project alone is not going to impact that to a great extent.
Tromburg also noted that the new Center City channel isn’t going to negatively affect the lake’s environment or water levels, which were plusses in the project consideration.
He explained, CLRA sought a reasonable project-- nothing spectacular, just a channel that affords eight-foot clearance from high water, is 20 feet wide and has a natural bottom.
Tromburg said the channel is moved to the larger bay to the west so boats can sight each other entering and now there’s room for maneuvering. Meanwhile; the old channel location which was basically a box culvert, will be filled in and a new highway intersection is being aligned at County Road 9 and the Park Island road on the south.
The Army Corps of Engineers issued the permit for the channel project. The permit manager said the permit has been issued for two years (from May 2005) but the completion date for the new channel is estimated to be October or November 2005.
(Due to the state government shutdown there weren’t spokespeople available at MnDOT offices.)
CLRA’s next project is the bridge at County Road 20. Tromburg announced the CLRA has a space on the July 20 County Board agenda to present information to county commissioners on raising the bridge to allow for boats to exit and enter North Center Lake from North Lindstrom Lake.
“The bridge is in disrepair right now and is too narrow,” Tromburg observed.
The location could relatively easily handle a raised-up bridge deck, because there’s a hill north on #20.
“We want to convince the County Board to replace that bridge, not just repair it,” Tromburg said of the mission next week. He encourages anybody who has an interest in seeing this project put on the county work schedule to attend the Board meeting July 20.
The Lake Improvement District Board has already approved a motion supporting the raising of the #20 bridge north of Lindstrom in a vote taken at the June LID meeting.
The third hurdle the CLRA hopes to clear is the removal of the tunnel that connects North and South Lindstrom lakes, by the Dinnerbel and Lakeview Motel in Lindstrom. From the southwest end of South Lindstrom Lake, there is a wide channel connection to Chisago Lake.
Plans are far from being finalized for the highway design through Lindstrom, however. But, as CLRA learned with the Center City channel, it can’t hurt to get involved early.
The CLRA meets the third Wednesday of the month, at 6:30 p.m. at the Dinnerbel in Lindstrom. Tromburg said anyone is encouraged to attend to learn more and get involved in the efforts. He can be reached at 651-492-0102.
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