By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN Meeker County State Aid Highway 15, often called the Bear Lake Road, southeast of Dassel, will be closed for the winter to through traffic.
“In certain areas, it’s a mess,” Meeker County Engineer Ron Mortensen told the county board of commissioners Tuesday.
The contractor, Central Specialties of Alexandria, did not finish the federally-funded grading project before November temperatures prevented the dirt from drying. Central Specialities started the $1.8 million grading late, Aug. 8, Mortensen said. The contractor received the bid in June.
“He promised he’d have it done. He hasn’t had it done,” Mortensen said.
The cooler November temperatures prevented the dirt from drying, so the compaction of the dirt wasn’t finished for the entire 7.5-mile road extending south from CSAH 6 to the Meeker/McLeod county border. Maybe if the project would have had one more week of warm weather, the contractor could have finished by Nov. 15, but it didn’t, Mortensen said.
The dirt is soft and loose in many spots throughout the length of the road. County highway maintenance employees have had to patch the ends of driveways for several property owners, so residents could get their vehicles out of their driveways, he added.
The only people who are allowed to drive on the unfinished road will be local traffic and farmers getting their harvests out of the fields there, Mortensen added.
County Administrator Paul Virnig asked, if it is bad in the fall, what will the road be like in the spring? It could be the same or worse than it is now, Mortensen responded.
Central Specialities will finish the grading in the spring. The county will maintain the road until then, he said.
Federally-funded bituminous surfacing on CSAH 15 will begin in the summer of 2009. It is estimated to cost $2.1 million, according to the highway department’s seven-year construction program Mortensen submitted to the county board.
In addition, a federally-funded 3.4-mile grading project will begin in 2009 on CSAH 27 to Trunk Highway 15 at Kingston. It is estimated to cost $800,000, according to the plan.
In 2010, CSAH 27 will be resurfaced with concrete, estimated to cost $1.08 million. Then, in 2011, 2.7-mile of CSAH 27 near Kingston will be graded and resurfaced with bituminous for an estimated $1.5 million. On CSAH 19, from Kingston to the Meeker/Wright county line, 5.2 miles will receive a bituminous overlay, estimated to cost $364,000, according to the plan.
CSAH 24, between Trunk Highway 15 and 705th Avenue, northeast of Dassel, also will receive a bituminous overlay in 2011.
In 2012, CSAH 5, south of Dassel, and between CSAH 18 and CSAH 15, will be graded for an estimated $200,000, according to the plan.
The construction projects not federally funded will have less money than originally proposed because people are buying less gasoline. Revenues produced from the gas tax are less than expected, Mortensen said.
Fortunately, Meeker County’s road maintenance funds in 2007 were used efficiently. Costs for state aid highways and county roads were well below other counties in the 12-county region, he pointed out.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• noted that part-time Meeker County Deputy Kirk Asplin has resigned to devote more time to his family and business, Kirk’s Travel Plaza of Cokato.
• hired Scott Wicklund of Litchfield as a full-time dispatcher in the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office for $14.44 per hour, and Stephanie Kunkel of South Haven as a part-time dispatcher for $14.44 per hour. She also works in the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
• reappraised a 50-foot by 60-foot forfeited lot in Kingston to $1,000 from $2,000 to be put up for sale.
• listened to a report that a massive 2-foot by 2-foot fieldstone mailbox built in the road’s right-of-way in Ellsworth Township was ordered to be removed. Any vehicle that would have hit it would have been damaged, Mortensen said.
• heard a report from Meeker Memorial Hospital CEO, Mike Schramm, that the hospital’s 75,000-square-foot expansion project is back on schedule. The building is expected to be fully enclosed by Christmas, he said.
• received a letter Nov. 10 from the Minnesota Pipe Line Company that operations on the MinnCan project pipe line began Oct. 31. The new pipe line increases the capacity of the company to deliver crude oil to Twin Cities’ refineries by 165,000 barrels per day.
The company donated air monitoring devices to the 13 sheriff’s departments in the counties crossed by the MinnCan project.
• agreed to buy a $500 portrait of N.Y. Taylor, Meeker County’s surveyor between 1887 and 1924. To this day, the locations of the section corners are incredibly accurate, despite Taylor’s lack of satellite imagery and modern surveying equipment, Mortensen said.
• noted the termination of the lease with the department of corrections and court services. This will cause the county to lose $400 a month in revenues, Virnig estimated.