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Rushford hears preliminary report on Highway 43

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Sep 13th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Government

With the start of the massive Highway 43 project drawing nearer, a preliminary feasibility report was presented to the city by Otomo Engineering. The details of the $3.5 million project have been laid out.

The city is already painfully aware of the conditions of some of the utilities that lay under the stretch of roadway, many of which were worsened by flooding six years ago. Six-inch clay pipe and six or eight-inch cast iron pipe with web joints, laid in 1885 have be deteriorating and causing excessive inflow and infiltration. Pipes south of Jessie Street laid prior to 1959 are also in poor condition.

Existing sanitary sewer and water services will be removed and replaced from the main to the street right of way line. In the case of business properties downtown, the services will be replaced from the main to five feet from any existing building located within five feet outside of the street right of way line. The city is requiring property owner’s sewer or water lines in poor condition or with outdated/unsafe materials be replaced. In those cases, the individuals will be responsible for the cost from the right of way line to their properties.

The street improvements expected include street widening or even slight narrowing, in some portions, to create a consistent corridor to MnDOT standards. The roadway has also been designed by MnDOT for appropriate traffic load and will be created by a 6 inch bituminous layer with an 8 inch crushed rock base with an 18 inch sand sub-base. All sidewalks and curb will be replaced. MnDOT will also set the rules on the accessibility standards, slopes, and headramps for sidewalks.

Concern over compaction and subsoils are an issue and it was suggested that a non-permeable fabric be placed below the sand to prevent water from climbing up into the road base. Compaction tests will be conducted on the rock and soil before work can proceed. Additionally, line crossings within 24 inches of each other will be insulated to prevent shifting soils. “These projects don’t go hunky dory smooth because of the age of the system,” noted Josh DeFrang of Otomo Engineering. “We fix an area and another breaks. That’s why we’ll be here on site.” City Public Works will also be on site to address any issues that arise immediately.

The project is expected to be let for bids in January. With the size of the project and state funding involved, engineers expect to see large firms bidding on the project. The city will require the contractor to have two crews working simultaneously in an effort to get work done as efficiently as possible.

The total cost of the project hovers just over $3.5 million with the city’s share at $1,695,858, including assessments. The estimated assessment costs are $337,142. The assessments are expected to be shared over 64 properties, with the properties to be determined as those with the most benefit.

It is possible that there may be some FEMA funding available for the project. However, the city will have to bond for the total city share, hoping for a reimbursement from FEMA. DeFrang believes there is a good possibility of getting the funding. “In 2009, we sent in estimated repair costs and in 2011 sent in the rest. FEMA has come back and reallocated funds to 2009 and 2011.” There’s been regular contact with FEMA offices, but due to frequent changes in FEMA staff and representation, it’s been difficult for the city and its representatives to maintain a direct line of communication. FEMA has already agreed to pay $800,000 for the 2009 and 2011 projects, but the amount owed might be near $1.1 million if the city can get assistance for this project.

The final feasibility report is expected at the next council meeting. A public hearing will also be ordered at that meeting, which will authorize final work on easements. It’s likely that the city will hold a public meeting in the afternoon, where people can meet one on one with project engineers or city staff, and hold the hearing later that night.

In other news, the city is in the final stages of the agreements with Family Dollar, vacating the current easement on the property and dedicating the utility easements to square up the easement lines. According to city clerk Kathy Zacher, the two resolutions for the easements were recorded in Preston, Minn. this past Tuesday. The surveyor was presenting them with the final site drawing and building paperwork is ready to go. As soon as the city receives final payment the project will be underway.

The city is also one step closer to a downtown motel. After nearly two years of back and forth discussion with the motel developers, soil tests have been completed, but Lokens have conducted some additional soil surveys. They will meet with the Economic Development Authority in an effort to bring the agreements to a close. According to Sarvi, there are some financial considerations. “We don’t want to force anyone faster than we need to. Lokens understand that and agree. We’re getting down to the end and we want to make sure we’re doing it right.” Sarvi indicated that Lokens hope to get a start on the motel foundations yet this fall so work can be done through the winter.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, September 23, at 6:30p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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