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Rushford Village receives pavement management plan

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jan 24th, 2014
Posted in Rushford Village Government

In a process that’s seen momentum in the last six months, the Village is making strides forward in the development of a comprehensive street plan. Following a wide-scope fiscal impact report this past July, the city has spent considerable time detailing, recording, and creating a methodology for road conditions and improvements.

The Village has considered improvements to several areas, including Cooperative Way, Whitemore, Prospect, West Goodrich, Plummer, East Goodrich, Meadow, Aspen, Village Drive, Money Creek, Nordic Road, Ridgeview, Rush Creek Roe, portions of Aspen Road, and County Line Road to or just beyond Laura Lane. The roads considered are of varying material and condition. Some are in a state of much-needed repair, while others are being looked at due to increasing costs of maintenance. In the latter, the city is reviewing the opportunity of reduce the need for annual crushed rock, grading, winter rock, and dust control on higher maintenance roads through paving.

While the cost, an estimated $519,000 initially discussed in July, presents a problem for the city, how the city would determine which roads a priority soon rose to the forefront of the issue. “Let’s bring it to the public and let them tell us what they’d like to see done. It’s never easy to spend that kind of money. We’re known for being pretty frugal, but you have to pay one way or another,” noted Councilor Gordon Johnson previously. “Road rock is our single biggest expenditure every year. Costs are not going to go down. I would hope a public hearing would give us some direction.”

A public hearing for the road issues was held August 6 and 10 residents turned out for discussion of a proposed 15-year, general obligation bonding for several street improvement projects. The proposed bonding was limited $550,000 and would see potential funding through Minnesota Rural Water. Original consideration to get all needed street work done, which includes resurfacing and paving of heavily travelled roads, amounted to $3.25 million, but the council quickly dismissed a plan of that magnitude.

“We need to do this in steps and stages, but we need to start somewhere,” noted Johnson during the hearing. One of our main considerations is that there is a certain amount of maintenance and grading, and crushed rock to keep the streets as drivable. We weighed these recommendations against the amount of invested maintenance.”

A street tour was conducted August 13 by Bolton & Menk, Inc., the consulting and engineering firm hired to assist the city. The purpose of the collaboration was noted to head off potential stumbling blocks on work proposed for County Line Road, as well as seeking professional recommendations on sealcoating and road widening. Brian Malm, representing Bolton & Menk, presented the council with the completed Pavement Management Plan at the January 21 council meeting.

“The goal of this plan is to assist the city with understanding its current system condition, assist with management of these assets, and provide recommendations for pavement management in the next five years,” stated Malm. Conditions were assessed using a PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating) method developed for the Wisconsin DOT. The figures were then used to prioritize and identify locations of need. “This information, coupled with pavement deterioration projections, will provide the mechanism for the city to analyze pavement condition in the future under different management scenarios.”

The city mapping shows a half mile segment of conrete roadway (Cooperative Way), five miles of bituminous paved surface, and 27 miles of gravel surface. Fifty-six percent of the bituminous surfaces fell under “fair or better,” with 34 percent of that group as “good or better.” Ninety-three percent of gravel surfaced roadways were listed just as “fair or better,” but 83 percent of that amount was strictly, “fair.” Malm did note there is little good engineering on when to pave gravel, but they are financially chosen on time and maintenance requirements.

“This is a discussion we need to have,” stressed Malm. “The next step is to sit down and discuss the dirty details.” It was suggested that the city either form a sub-committee to oversee that portion or the entire council meet as a whole in an extended council workshop. The council voted unanimously in favor of the latter. “We will come to you with some numbers so you can wiggle into a number.”

“How do you structure a plan for the future with dollars you don’t have today?” asked Schwanke. “It’s better to do it the right way and put them to the best possible use.”

A January 28 date was set for the council workshop regarding the issue. Once roads are selected, fiscal consultant Mike Bubany will work out the numbers to present the city with a detailed plan and financing application. Bolton & Menk will prep the project, to get it ready for bidding, once target streets are finalized. Bonding will be done in 2014. Should the city opt to add additional streets, not outlined at the first public hearing, a second public hearing would be needed. It doesn’t appear that that would be the case.

The city also considered the possibility of limiting or disallowing street parking due to safety concerns, especially in the south Rushford area. The ideas of limited hours, seasonal parking, and increased signage were all discussed. Much of the problem stems from safe snow removal from the sometimes narrow streets.

“It’s only a handful who consistently abuse this,” noted Mayor Dale Schwanke. “What do you do with them?”

Related issues of enforcement, whether through ticketing or towing, was also discussed. City Attorney Tom Manion recommended the city create an ordinance for the restricted parking.

“We need something that will give us teeth to do something,” added Councilor Johnson.

The issue of a petition for annexation from a Peterson property was discussed by the council, but no decision has been made. “I suggest we take it under advisement,” stated Schwanke. “No matter what the decision, it’s not a vote to take someone’s land. It’s a vote to allow it to move forward. We will do due diligence and see what makes sense for all involved.” The issue has been tabled until the next meeting.

Recurring complaints about a dog nuisance was also discussed at the meeting. Jeremy Williams, the owner of the dogs in question, presented the council with statements from law enforcement and others stating a contrary opinion to resident complaints. “This is not taken lightly,” said Williams. “This harassment will stop here.” Williams maintains that his dogs are not aggressive, that they have bark collars, do not run at large, and cannot jump out of enclosure. There have been no reports filed with the sheriff’s department, according to Williams.

Williams noted his willingness to file a harassment suit should the issue persist. “I will not lay down my family’s rights. Rather than continue these letters and spend the taxpayer’s money, stop harassing me.”

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Tuesday, February 4, at 7 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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