HJ/EDHerald Journal, Dec. 19, 2005

Carver County growth: no slowdown expected

By Jenni Sebora
Correspondent

Growth. Expansion. Change. That is what Carver County is experiencing.

According to the US Census Bureau, the county’s population has jumped from 70,205 in 2002 to about 80,000 presently, with some of the county’s cities seeing double digit increases in population over the past few years.

The Metropolitan Council forecasts that “it ain’t stoppin’ there.”

In 2010, it is predicted that the population for Carver County will be at approximately 95,950, 117,620 in 2020, and 141,020 in 2030.

County Commissioner Tim Lynch noted that a goal for the county is to attract new industries and businesses to the area so residents can obtain good quality jobs in the area without having to commute to the Twin Cities.

As this growth is occurring, other changes and expansion projects are taking place including highway and road work. Lynch noted that making these road changes is a step in the right direction for residents.

Highways 5, 7, 25, 10 and 212 are or will be experiencing changes including the construction of roundabouts in some areas, which Lynch noted “shockingly increase road safety,” as was told to him by highway engineers.

“We want to try and keep the flow of traffic down and increase safety (on the roads),” Lynch said.

But probably the biggest road construction project underway is the 212 project, which was first proposed in the 1950s and is now underway and scheduled to be completed in September 2008.

District 5 County Commissioner James Ische noted that the project was initially set to be completed in fall 2007, but the state of Minnesota extended the initiation of the project out a year due to budget concerns.

The total cost of the road project is budgeted at close to $240 million, with the county set to cover about $4 million of the total cost.

The project includes 11.8 miles of roadway, 28 bridges and seven interchanges (located at County Road 4, Dell Road, Highway 101, Powers Boulevard, and County Road 4, which is Eden Prairie Road).

To keep road closures and bypasses to a minimum, the construction is being completed in three stages, Ische noted. Work this year will focus on the east end of the project, between Powers Boulevard and County Road 4 and will include clearing and grubbing, mulch removal, and earth movement.

Construction has also begun on six bridges, including those at Powers Boulevard, Lyman Boulevard, Highway 101, and two bridges at Riley Creek and Highway 41.

“Construction on bridges is expensive and a lot of work,” Ische added.

Although kept to a minimum, major road work equates to some road closures and bypasses. The traffic bypasses at Highway 41 and Lyman Boulevard will be used through the 2006 construction season to route the traffic around the bridge construction, with neither Highway 41 nor Lyman Boulevard being closed, according to Carver County Citizen newsletter, September, 2005.

Candlewood Parkway between Miller Parkway South and the south right-of-way closed permanently this November.

The Citizen further noted that construction from County Road 4 to Dell Road is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2006, with the highway between Dell Road and Powers Boulevard being finished by the target date of fall 2008.

When Highway 212 roadwork is completed, it should improve traffic flow, increase capacity, and create a link from Minneapolis to western Minnesota, Lynch noted.

Another area that is seeing change is Carver County government. The change is in the form of reorganization of the county department heads.

“We have gone from 26 department heads to nine division heads,” Ische said.

This reorganization involved lay-offs and changes in positions, which Ische noted has been one of the hardest jobs he has had to do.

“It affects real people with real families – people I have known a long time,” Ische said. “But our job is to try and get the “best bang for the dollar” for the taxpayers and to increase efficiency,” Ische said.

“Our job is to answer to the taxpayers,” Lynch said.

A little history of Carver County

Carver County was organized by the Minnesota Territorial Legislature in March 1855. The county was named in honor of the explorer, Jonathon Carver, and the original county seat was San Francisco Township, but in 1856, voters moved it to Chaska.

Many of Carver County’s initial settlers were from eastern states, but by the 1860s, most new settlers were immigrants from Germany or Sweden, according to an article written by Leanne Brown. The Germans founded towns like Hamburg, New Germany, and Cologne, while the Swedes settled in East Union and Watertown. Most immigrants became farmers, but some, living in Chaska, became laborers in the brick industry.

Located along the Minnesota River, Chaska had good deposits of clay for brick-making. Bricks were used for building houses in the area, and were also used in the foundation of the Minnesota capitol building when it was built 100 years ago. The last brickyard shut down in the 1950s.

Farming was the main occupation of Carver County for 100 years. Many were dairy farmers, and creameries were numerous. The county claimed for itself the title of “The Golden Buckle of the Dairy Belt.” Bongards Creameries is still an important link to the county’s dairy heritage, Brown noted.


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