Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 27, 1999

Highway 12 reconstruction plans updated

By Andrea Vargo

Highway 12 reconstruction brought local business people to listen to project manager Curt Eastlund at the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

Eastlund told the business owners that he has been meeting with City Administrator Doug Borglund and City Engineer Brad DeWolf on a regular basis, trying to dovetail all the plans.

The city of Howard Lake wants to make sure all the Howard Lake work is done in one year, he said.

"What we have been striving to do is award the project April 28, 2000," said Eastlund.

Funding for the project is for July 1. The contractor can start anytime before that, but he can't submit any bills until after July 1, he said.

There is a concern for how many working days the project will take. About 35 working days (Monday to Friday) are anticipated, but many things factor into the equation and can throw the project off schedule, said Eastlund.

There has been an issue of building incentives into the contract to keep the time to a minimum, he said.

Of course, the contractor can't get in to start tearing things up until the utilities are moved, Eastlund said.

DeWolf said that Mn/DOT has agreed to try to keep 13th Avenue, 10th Avenue, and one access to the park-and-ride lot open at all times.

Eighth Avenue will become a two-way street for the duration of the construction, he said.

The construction company will try to keep some of the sidewalks in place, though some walkways will have to be cut at times and filled with gravel for use, said DeWolf.

If some people have to park across a street and use a neighbor's lawn to get to their home, people need to treat one another with respect and work these things out in advance, said Mayor Gerry Smith.

Sanitary sewer will be the first thing to go in and be closed up, followed by the water and the hook-ups. The storm sewer will be the last of the pipes laid, said DeWolf.

Highway 12 was once an old wagon trail, and it looks like a snake, said Eastlund. Even the height of the curbs goes up and down all along its length through town, he said.

Under the highway is black dirt and other organic soils. The builders just kept dumping stuff on it, he said.

Mn/DOT decided, since the clay soils require perfectly dry weather and a lot of compaction, it would be better to get rid of the clay and fill with sand, he said.

This will also reduce damage that could be done to some of the older buildings when the tamping is done.

Detour

The route for the detour will start at the west edge of town on 13th Avenue, where it will go south for one block to Seventh Street. From there it will go east to Wright County Rd. 6, and then south to Wright County Rd. 30.

The detour will take all the traffic, including trucks, said Eastlund.

Traffic light

Discussion on the possibility of a traffic light for Howard Lake found the business owners coming down hard on project manager Eastlund.

Traffic signals are safety treatments, and it is important not to make a bad situation worse, said Eastlund.

A stoplight will cause more of the fender-bender accidents, but it will cut down on the more serious accidents where a car is hit in the side, he explained.

Howard Lake did not meet the requirements for a signal on the last study, Eastlund said.

Since things have changed, such as two more shifts added to Dura Supreme and more apartments on Shoreline Drive, a forecast on the traffic in that area might meet warrants now, said Eastlund.

Business owners were still positive that Montrose got a stoplight by making a call to "someone."

DeWolf said Wright County Rd. 12 and Highway 12 is the busiest in Wright County. Coupled with the traffic that also turns south on Highway 25 at that intersection, that helped the city meet the requirements for a stoplight.

One person asked if the city could put in a stoplight and pay for it.

"No," said Eastlund.

Whether or not the city gets a traffic signal, Smith asked Eastlund what could be done to slow traffic down through the city.

If there are too many signs as traffic comes into town, it has a numbing effect, and no one pays much attention to them, said Eastlund.

Mn/DOT will help with the proper signage, but there are other things the city can do to help, he said.

Proper landscaping close to the highway gives the impression of a more closed-in space and tends to give drivers an unconscious cue to slow traffic, he explained.

A large sign at the edge of town welcoming people helps as well, he said.

"If you want people to slow down, why don't you use the police department?" asked John Deitering of Cartmakers.

Because it is not cost effective, replied Smith. Court costs are sometimes two or three more times the price of a ticket.

Said Smith, "Our police have better things to do."

"We need to make it (the streets) as safe as possible without the police being around," he said.

Lighting for project

A special meeting will take place Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Howard Lake Community Center to finalize the lighting design.

The lights on Eighth Avenue are the same as the lights planned for Highway 12, but they don't cast enough light, said Eastlund.

An alternative in wattage and perhaps height needs to be selected, said Tom Highum, design supervisor for the project.

The previous council budgeted $148,000 over and above what Mn/Dot will pay for the extra costs of the decorative lighting on Highway 12, said Borglund.

Highum said there is a need for a pole every 150 feet, and they will be staggered down the street in order to provide adequate lighting for motorists.

If the city used standard lights, its share of the cost would be about $18,000, said Borglund.

Easements

Smith told Eastlund he knows of several landowners who have been threatened by employees of Mn/DOT in regard to easements.

Eastlund said that should never have happened, and if it did, it should be reported so it can be taken care of within the organization.

Some landowners got condemnation letters, because they have not settled with Mn/DOT yet, said Eastlund.

That is just because of the time it takes to condemn an easement, and negotiations continue on those parcels.

The problem is that people think they can hold out for more money, Eastlund said.

The truth is that if it goes to condemnation, the originally offered price will be all that the owner gets.

Tom Kutz, councilman and landowner, said he has dealt with as many as five separate individuals regarding his building and his driveways, and each has given him a different scenario.

Eastlund said Kutz's building on the corner of County Rd. 6 and Highway 12 is a special case, where the county won't allow any more driveways on its side, so the state has to allow him to keep his drive on Highway 12.

He said Kutz could call him personally to get the proper information.

In fact, he said, any of the landowners or businessmen could contact him if they wanted.

The design plans have to be finished and in the district's office before the middle of January, said Eastlund.

This will keep the project on schedule for an April 28 letting, he said.


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