By Starrla Cray
COKATO, MN When it comes to roads in Cokato, as well as the rest of Wright County, officials know it’s never too early to start planning.
At a public meeting Nov. 10, local people identified goals and plans for Wright County’s five-year highway improvement plan, its 10-year work plan, and its bridge replacement program.
The five-year program will be formally adopted by the Wright County board at the end of December.
“If anybody has any input, we certainly would be open, up until it’s approved,” Wright County highway engineer Wayne Fingalson said.
There will be a committee meeting Tuesday, Dec. 15, so Fingalson said it would be best if people would contact him before then, because the plan could be approved as soon as Tuesday, Dec. 22.
The reason for making plans through 2014 is to ensure that the county doesn’t spend unnecessary money on maintenance, Fingalson said.
“We don’t want to be resurfacing a road if we’re going to be rebuilding it in a few years,” he explained.
The 10-year work plan doesn’t go into as great of detail as the five-year, but is still a useful tool, according to Fingalson.
“We’ve listed a whole bunch of potential projects,” he said. By having a formal plan in place, it allows the county to apply for federal funding.
The five- and 10-year plans include a few different types of projects.
“The big emphasis is on safety,” he said. “We try to keep people on the road.”
Street lights at intersections is one example of a “stand-alone safety project.”
“They certainly help with visibility problems at night,” Fingalson said. “I think they help during the day as well. People are more aware that there is an intersection.”
Wright County has about 80 intersections, and each averages a monthly cost of $28, which adds up to about $27,000 per year.
Officials expressed interest in only having lights on when needed, to reduce electricity costs.
Lower-cost safety improvements include rumble strips, which are placed either on the edge or center line of roads to alert drivers when they drift from their lane.
If they are approved, some of the proposed projects will need to be funded by local dollars.
“We’ve been very fortunate in Wright Co. to get as much funding as we have,” Fingalson said. “We’ve gotten almost $10 million in the past five or six years.”
The county board will need to decide if taxes will need to be raised or if projects should be scaled back.
“That’s one of the challenges here,” Fingalson said. “We’re going to have to get more local money. That means more tax dollars. It’s going to make the decisions tougher.”
Proposed road plans
Construction plans for next year include 26.73 miles of overlays south of Cokato and Howard Lake, at an estimated cost of just over $5 million, with about $1.8 million coming from state aid sources.
“We have quite a few overlay projects in the southwest part of the county,” Fingalson said.
Affected roads include segments of CSAHs 1, 6, 21, 30, and 7, as well as Wright County road 153.
Another 2010 project is reconstruction of Wright County road 12 between Montrose and Buffalo.
The City of Buffalo will be responsible for the portion in city limits, and Wright County will be responsible for the other portion. State aid will be the primary funding source for that project.
“There is a link that was not completed,” Fingalson said. When the work is finished, the road will be wider, and will include a bike path.
“That will be a nice improvement,” Fingalson said. For 2011, projects are concentrated in the Buffalo area, with overlays on various segments of roadway.
A grading reconstruction project is planned for 2012 on about six miles of CSAH 3 south of Cokato.
“That is a major project,” Fingalson said.
In 2013, proposed overlays in the eastern part of the county include segments of CSAHs 10, 18, 33, 20, and county roads 112, 119, and 133, at an estimated cost of $3.4 million, mostly funded with local money.
The last year, 2014, includes overlays in Rockford and in the southern portion of the county.
The tentative 10-year plan includes a north and south bypass in Howard Lake, bridge improvements throughout the county, and various other grading, base, and pavement projects.
When the plans are finalized, details will be available on the Wright County web site, www.co.wright.mn.us.
To contact Fingalson, call (763) 682-7388.