5/1/2014 4:12:00 PM Old Towne Road project presented to city council showing narrower road
by PAUL RIGNELL
A Chisago County rebuild of Old Towne Road, or County 24, is still in the plans for 2016, from Stinson South to Chisago Boulevard. County officials met with Chisago City council members April 22 to share reports from the last preliminary open house that was held March 27. Current plans call for reducing the road width from Stinson Avenue to 284th Street. The design would keep the existing width for driving lanes while reserving an 8-foot paved trail for biking and walking on the east side. On-street parking would be prohibited there, while residents and guests could still park vehicles in most areas on the west side.
County officials said a narrower road is designed to encourage slower traffic speeds. One resident near the northern end of the project area said he would support slower speeds, as other drivers have smashed and totaled three vehicles parked in front of his home since he has lived at his address across from Dahl Place, he said. For as much as some neighbors are open to proposed changes, the same man joined another neighborhood father as well as a third resident (a grandmother) to ask that the council allow neighbors to keep their west-side sidewalk that runs from Stinson Avenue to Hayes Street. County officials considered an option that would have removed that sidewalk from Stinson to Hayes. The concerned neighbors who spoke to the council April 22 said the sidewalk is an important link to parts of the town when their families want to walk to buy groceries or for other reasons.
The residents said that removing the sidewalk would jeopardize pedestrian safety for their children and other users. County officials proposed replacing the four-foot sidewalk with a five-foot sidewalk, which would be the minimum required width to allow city plowing of the sidewalk in winter. The residents who were present April 22 said they would prefer to keep the current sidewalk and manage snow removal themselves. Council members agreed to retain the west-side sidewalk from Stinson to Hayes. Residents and city officials noted that part of the sidewalk has been damaged previously by frost heave and could stand to be replaced. “I would suggest fixing that prior to us getting there (in 2016),” said County Engineer Joe Triplett. The federal government provides $1.92 million in 2010 for future county work on Old Towne Road, and the grant requires the county to pay a 20-percent match of $480,000.
In other business Chisago City may rebuild streets in 2014 including Fairway Lane, 282nd Street and Maple Ridge, each involving access or adjacent property to the Ecumen Parmly LifePointes campuses, and city officials met with affected property owners to generally favorable response April 21. Council ordered a project feasibility study and scheduled time for April 30 to review that report. The April 30 meeting, starting at 6 p.m., will include the city’s annual Board of Review hearing. – Council gave approval for J & S General Contracting, of Osceola, to conduct a storm water filtration project, being paid for by the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District, where water enters Chisago Lake near Wallmark Street and Lake Avenue. Conservation district officials received a low quote of $25,443 from J & S, among five competing firms. The project will involve an installation and management of check basins. The width of Lake Avenue east of Wallmark Street will be reduced to one driving lane for lake access during ice fishing season.
– Council renewed a lease agreement that has allowed Chisago Lakes Schools to store some of its maintenance equipment in the city public works garage since 2008. The city has raised the school district’s rent for the space to $1,550 per month, up from $1,400. The School Board approved the renewal earlier this spring. – The city is recovering from a winter that included reports of frozen water lines for the first time in 13 years, according to staff. When tap water got close to freezing after those incidents, some select water utility customers agreed to run water at about a pencil’s width from one home source to prevent further freezing. Council voted April 22 to absolve those customers from their inevitably higher billing for the first quarter (January through March) and instead staff will charge those customers based on an average of their usage in prior winter billing quarters.