May 28, 2007

Dassel Quiet Zone construction costs $88,000

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel is asking Meeker County for help in paying for the Fourth Street railroad crossing’s safety measures, because the $88,000 construction costs more than expected, and Fourth Street also is Meeker County Road 4.

The total estimated cost to install non-traversable curb medians is $33,000, City Engineer Barry Glienke of Bolton & Menk, Inc., told the city council last Monday.

The estimated cost to repair the Third Street crossing is $40,000. Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad indicated it will pay 20 percent of the cost of the crossing, so the city’s share is $32,000. Reconstructing the street from the Third Street crossing with new curb and gutter, bituminous surfacing, and storm sewer is estimated to cost $23,000, Glienke said.

The $88,000 total is only for construction. The city will need to pay for permits and other expenses, he added.

For example, the city must pay for an inspector from BNSF to be at the site during construction, said Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak.

“That’s on our dime,” Scepaniak added.

The city is planning the non-traversable curb medians to qualify Dassel as a Quiet Zone. Mayor Ava Flachmeyer related how recently two trains stopped on the tracks in Dassel, and rolled back and forth, switching cars. Each time a train rolled near a crossing it blew its horn.

“Over an hour that bloody whistle was blowing,” Flachmeyer said.

If the city installs safety measures, such as non-traversable medians down the center line of Third and Fourth Streets, Dassel will qualify for a Quiet Zone. The medians are large concrete slabs that prevent vehicles from going around the crossing arms as they come down over the street when a train approaches.

If Dassel qualifies for a Quiet Zone, trains will no longer be required to blow their horns at each crossing.

In addition, the condition of the Third Street crossing and the street between the tracks to Pacific Avenue is poor.

“You scrape the bottom of your car whenever you go over that,” Flachmeyer said.

Myles McGrath, city administrator, suggested the project could be covered by reserve funds. “The funds can be replaced in the future by liquor store profits,” he said.

April sales at the municipal liquor store were strong despite the closing of the store for two days to move, April 23 and 24, Liquor Store Manager Marvin Vetsch reported May 7. So far, sales have been 3 percent over sales in 2006.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• continued city membership in the Highway 15 Coalition by paying its annual dues of $200.

• set a public hearing for Monday, June 4 to amend the ordinance for water connections. The current ordinance specifies the service pipes must be copper. The council decided to change the ordinance to give property owners a choice between copper or using approved plastic with copper tracer wire, 3/4 inch or larger inside.

• heard the fire department’s residence at 131 Atlantic Ave., now has a renter. Fire Chief Dale Grochow will act in the role of landlord, according to McGrath.

To access past and present minutes of city council meetings, go to the web site ci.dassel.mn.us or contact the city at (320) 275-2454.

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