By Adam Quandt
People who live in the Midwest often say that we have two seasons here, winter and construction. Now that winter has come and gone, the City of Orono is looking towards construction season.
Road maintenance was a popular topic during the April 24 regular council meeting of the Orono City Council.
Right away in the meeting, the City Council was met with a concerned citizen during the public comment portion of the meeting. Orono community member Jim Buck voiced his concerns about the intersection near Homestead Trail, Highway 6 and Old Crystal Bay Road during school hours. Buck mentioned that because of traffic backups waiting to turn either way, people are forced to cross the highway in a “zipper” fashion.
However, people cannot always see what’s coming on the highway and are forced into close call situations.
“I’ve seen far too many near-fatal collisions in that area,” Buck said. “It’s a fatal collision waiting to happen.”
Mayor Dennis Walsh and the rest of the council agreed that this is an area that needs to be talked about.
“With everybody on here all having kids, we know exactly what you’re referring to,” Walsh said. “We’ve seen it.”
Councilmember Richard Crosby questioned why this area wasn’t a part of the school zone, in order to make cars slow down during school hours, when traffic is higher.
Walsh said that Orono is not the only player involved when it comes to that intersection. Because Highway 6 is a county highway, Hennepin County must also be involved and because of the trail there, the Three Rivers Park District must also be involved.
Walsh suggested that the city should start organizing people to meet and have a conversation about the area. City staff instructed the council that they could draft a resolution asking for a speed study from the state in order to get the ball rolling.
During the meeting, the City Council also discussed the 2017-2018 road maintenance plan.
Throughout the 2017 construction season, the council voted for maintenance to include the rehabilitation of Tonka Avenue and East Lake Street, mill and overlay on Northern Avenue and Minnetonka Avenue, and to repave the post office lot. Mayor Walsh also asked to include maintenance on three additional roads.
As of right now, the 2018 maintenance plan includes the rehabilitation of Forest Arm Lane and a portion of Wildhurst Trail, mill and overlay on another section of Wildhurst Trail, Vine Place and Forest Lake Landing.
The road maintenance plan for both years passed the council with a 5-0 vote.
Councilmember Victoria Seals also mentioned that there is also a possibility of figuring out a plan to possibly include work on Old Crystal Bay Road in 2018.
The estimated cost for 2017 street maintenance is $386,980, which will come from the city’s Pavement Management Fund. The estimated cost for the 2018 plans is $779,602 from the Pavement Management Fund, with and additional $128,093 coming from Municipal State Aid.
The funding for the 2018 projects were estimated based on the assumption that an additional $250,000 is procured from the Pavement Management Fund Levy for 2018 and an additional $200,000 positive balance carry over from the 2017 funds.
The City Council will be presented with separate engineering and design proposals later in June, in order to address that aspect of the project.
The next Orono City Council meeting will take place on May 8 and 7 p.m. in the Orono City Council Chambers at City Hall.