By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN Designs for the reconstruction of Wright County State Aid Highway 3 south of Cokato are taking shape at the Wright County Highway Department, the Cokato Council was informed at last Monday’s meeting.
City Engineer Eric Lembke, of Stantec, attended a meeting with the highway department Nov. 29, and provided the council with an update for the upgrades being planned for CSAH 3 in 2012.
The county plans to reconstruct a 6-mile stretch of CSAH 3 from Klarsyn Street south to the McLeod County border (Stockholm Township).
The project includes a partial realignment of the roadway to straighten some of the curves, and the addition of paved shoulders, Lembke said.
The surface of the road will be bituminous from Klarsyn to Wright County Road 31, and concrete south of Co. Rd. 31 to the McLeod County border.
To address erosion concerns, the county plans to extend curbing on the west side of CSAH 3 in order to capture more stormwater and improve drainage, Lembke said.
Following the meeting in November, Lembke approached county engineer Wayne Fingalson, assistant engineer Virgil Hawkins, and other members of the design team about the design plans for the intersection of CSAH 3 and Co. Rd. 31.
He was informed that the intersection is planned to be a four-way stop, with right turn lanes on CSAH 3, and possibly on Co. Rd. 31.
Lembke offered the opinion that a roundabout at the intersection would increase safety, increase traffic flow, and reduce vehicle stopping noise that residents in the area are currently experiencing, with which the county design team agreed.
Unfortunately, the county asked that the city agree to a 50 percent cost share with the county for construction of a roundabout, and is only expecting the city to share in 25 percent of the cost for a four-way stop.
Lembke told the county officials that he could not recommend a cost share at that level to Cokato’s City Council, he said.
“I don’t think we can afford the 25 percent they expect in the original plan, and that intersection doesn’t warrant a roundabout,” said Council Member Butch Amundsen, noting there were problems years ago.
“I just wanted to present this to you, it’s fallen by the wayside, anyway,” Lembke said.
He noted that the design was expected to be complete by January, and the call for bids would be in March.
“Pass on to the county that we can’t afford a roundabout, or the 25 percent they expect for the original project,” Amundsen said.
Brighter lights, slower speeds at US Hwy. 12 and Johnson Avenue
The council authorized the public works department to install brighter lights on US Highway 12 at the Johnson Avenue crosswalk to make it safer for pedestrians.
The police advisory commission requested that the city of Cokato consider installing brighter lighting in the area, as well as additional signage and speed control on Johnson Avenue, after resident Al Jones informed them of his concerns.
On Johnson Avenue, there are two daycares across the street from each other, as well as extensive traffic from Golfview Apartments and apartment buildings on Second Street, Jones informed the commission.
Periodically, there is heavy traffic from baseball games or school sponsored activities in Veterans Memorial Park, at times traveling faster than the posted speed, Jones stated.
He requested that the posted speed on Johnson Avenue be reduced to 25 miles per hour.
In addition, Jones informed the commission that he and some of his boys had walked to the Dairy Queen recently, and found it to be dangerously dark and difficult for cars to see pedestrians at the Johnson Avenue crosswalk.
Mayor Gordy Erickson informed the council he had talked to the county sheriff, and reduced speed signs will help to slow traffic.
The council discussed placing solar-powered, self-activated crossing lights at the intersection, but it was noted by Amundsen and Council Member Ken Bakke that other communities in the area were not happy with those types of lights because they can be unreliable.
Lembke informed the council that the hard-wire version of the self-activated crossing light was less expensive,
There is also an LED version that is very bright, for about $3,000 to $4,000, Lembke said.
As for providing more light at the crossing to allow traffic to better see pedestrians, Xcel Energy had already conducted a site visit, and would be coming again this week, Erickson said.
Public Works Director Jeff DeGrote noted that he spoke with Xcel about using clear lights, rather than yellow lights, which he thought were brighter.
However, Xcel was unable to get the clear lights, so if the city wanted the clear lights, it may have to pursue that option on its own, DeGrote said.
Second step for trail grant approved
Taking the next step in creating a better sidewalk and pedestrian trail through Cokato, the council approved moving forward with the second step (part B) of its application for a transportation enhancement grant at last Monday’s meeting.
The funding for the transportation enhancement grant will be for projects in 2016, and is offered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
The city submitted a pre-application (part A) for the trail and sidewalk enhancement project last month.
Included in the project is an 8-foot bituminous regional trail along US Highway 12 from Wright County State Aid Highway 4 to Third Street, and continuing west on Third Street to Oliver Avenue.
A 5-foot concrete sidewalk along Third Street from Prairie Avenue to Trailstone Park, and along Hwy. 12 from Third Street to Sucker Creek is also in the scope of the project.
Finally, an 8-foot bituminous trail from the Sucker Creek crossing to Seventh Street would complete the project.
This will be the second time Cokato has applied for the grant, having also applied last year for funding in the 2015 grant cycle.
Last year’s application was denied due to limited funding and a large number of projects applying for the funding, Lembke said.
In order to move forward with the project, the council has to commit to 40 percent of the costs associated with the project, Lembke informed the council.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $592,000. The transportation enhancement funds requested is $361,600.
“The city will have to pay $230,400 if the scope of the project doesn’t change,” Lembke said.
“If we move forward with the application, and we are awarded the funding, can we back out?” Bakke asked.
Lembke informed the council that it could modify the project if the original intent were not changed.
For example, the sidewalk along Third Street from Prairie Avenue to Trailstone Park could possibly be eliminated without changing the intent of creating a regional trail connection through Cokato, Lembke said.
“I’d like to see this move forward, it is well-needed,” Bakke commented.
“And seeing how much the DC trail is used, it will be utilized,” Erickson added.
Amundsen asked Lembke how soon Cokato will know if it will receive the funding so it can begin preparing by setting aside money in its budget.
The second step (part B) of the application is due to MnDOT by Friday, Jan. 13, and a Wright County review board will take place sometime in February, Lembke said.
Cokato will know if it was accepted for funding in about three to four months.