By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN -- Lester Prairie City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk had a big smile on her face last Tuesday morning as she watched a contractor scoop up the first bucket of dirt to officially begin construction on a project Pawelk began working on more than two years ago. For a map of the route planned, click here.
Pawelk was the driving force behind the application for a Safe Routes to School Grant through the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration that the city applied for in January 2007.
The city awarded the contract for the project to Chard Tiling & Excavating.
The program is intended to provide a safe way for children to get to and from school.
In Lester Prairie, the plan involves construction of a trail along the north side of McLeod County Road 23 from McLeod County Road 9 to Pine Street. From there, the trail will turn south to connect with the city park.
As the project progresses, utility relocation will continue along the trail route.
Crews will remove existing sidewalks, driveway pavement, and other structures.
Next, the sidewalk and trail sections will be constructed.
Crews are expected to start near the city park at Second Avenue South, and move north and east toward East Park Estates.
The final phase of the project will include turf restoration, sign placement, crosswalk painting, mailbox installations, and cleanup.
Residents who have driveway access along the sidewalk portion of the trail will be able to access their driveways in the mornings, evenings, and weekends, except when the new concrete surface is poured, according to the city engineer.
When disruptions to the regular access schedule occur, residents will be notified by a hand-delivered notice.
Residents who have questions or special access needs may contact one of the following people:
• Nathan Schmalz, on-site contact for Bolton & Menk, mobile (612) 756-0502.
• Josh Eckstein, project engineer for Bolton & Menk, office (952) 448-8838.
• Dan Chard, project superintendent for Chard Tiling & Excavating, mobile (612) 685-8867.
The project is expected to be completed by July 31, 2009.
The original cost of the project was estimated at $190,000, but the bid for the trail came in at $91,664. Engineering costs for the project were not immediately available.
The groundbreaking event was attended by representatives from the city, from McLeod County, which acted as the city’s sponsor, and representatives from Lester Prairie schools.
The city was notified in April 2007 that it had been awarded a $175,000 grant for the project.
The award of the grant was only the beginning, and the city has worked through several obstacles on the way to getting all approvals leading up to Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Pawelk worked with City Engineer Jake Saulsbury of Bolton & Menk to move the project along.