City, county officials favor work on north end of BridgePublished 10:20am Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Albert Lea and Freeborn County officials have reached a consensus on which part of Bridge Avenue to start improvements.
During a joint meeting Thursday between the City Council and Board of Commissioners, the officials decided unofficially to place a priority on the north part of the road, from Interstate 90 south to Hammer Road, before taking up any major reconstruction in the residential southern part of the corridor to the south.
Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said the decision to begin on the north end of the street comes because of the effects any changes could have on businesses in the area. Kwik Trip has announced it is building a gas station on Bridge Avenue, and Hy-Vee Gas has talked about making some improvements to its facility. There has also been a change of ownership in the Chevrolet car dealership on the street.
What improvements will be done to the street have yet to be determined.
What to do on Bridge Avenue — also Freeborn County Road 22 — has been a point of discussion for both the county and city in the last decade, though the focus usually has been on the south end of the street. Specifically, officials are looking at whether changes need to be made to the road or its traffic controls when the infrastructure underneath the road is replaced.
Bridge Avenue serves as one of the primary conduits between Albert Lea’s downtown and the commercial and residential areas to the north. Because it is a county highway that runs through the city limits, both the city and the county have a role in its renovation, no matter what is decided for the route.
Kluever said the two entities wanted to decide on the priorities because applications are due in February for federal funding that is dispersed in 2017.
He said a study that is re-evaluating the same stretch of Bridge Avenue should also be completed this month, giving insight on the traffic counts, turning movements and crash counts. Previous data was collected from 2001 to 2003.
Kluever said City Engineer Steven Jahnke and County Engineer Sue Miller hope to know by November what the boards think should be done to that portion of the road.
Public meetings will also be held in August and September to allow feedback.