Millions in street work planned

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 9, 2001

The City of Albert Lea will initiate an ambitious street improvement program this year.

Tuesday, January 09, 2001

The City of Albert Lea will initiate an ambitious street improvement program this year. Five projects totaling almost $2.5 million are a top priority, said City Engineer Dave Olson..

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The City Council discussed the projects at its meeting Monday, voicing support for Olson’s recommendations. All of the projects were given preliminary approval, advancing them to either the feasibility-study or public-hearing stage.

The projects must be given final approval soon, said City Manger Paul Sparks, so that feasibility studies, bids, assessment hearings and neighborhood meetings can conclude before construction season begins in the spring. Sparks said that the scope of the projects require more time than in past years.

&uot;It’s a big load,&uot; said Sparks. &uot;It might be a little ambitious. We might not get all of them done in one year.&uot;

The engineering department has chosen five street projects that construction crews will try to complete this year:

n An overlay of northeast area residential streets will cost $420,198. This project would involve milling the existing surface and applying a two-inch layer of bituminous pavement.

The total centerline footage of the project is almost 19,000 linear feet and will involve about 400 parcels of land between Bridge Avenue and Goose Lake. The city will pay for about $81,000 of the project, but the rest of the cost will be assessed. Hearings are set for Feb. 12 and 16.

n Resurfacing and reconstruction of Fountain Street, for a total cost of $477,100. The majority of this resurfacing project will be paid with municipal state-aid funds. Only $26,300 of the costs will be assessed. From Park Avenue to St. Mary Avenue, the street will be reconstructed – removed and replaced. Surface repairs are scheduled for the rest of Fountain Street to Newton Avenue. Hearings for the project will probably be set at the council’s next meeting Jan. 22.

n A Frank Avenue reconstruction project will cost $1.13 million. This project, by far the biggest and most costly, will take at least five months to finish. A large part of the project involves the replacement of the 80-year-old water main and sanitary and storm sewers as well as installation of drain tile. Much of the street will also be widened. Assessments for the project are estimated at $300,000. Hearings have been set for Jan. 18 and 23.

n The first phase of downtown street reconstruction will cost $300,000. Phase one of this project involves reconstruction of Broadway from Main Avenue to Fountain Street. Assessments are estimated at $120,000. Phases two and three, which involve several other downtown streets, are scheduled for 2002 and 2003. Sparks said crews will have to coordinate the Broadway project around the Fountain Street project because of the proximity between the two.

n Maplehill Drive reconstruction will cost $160,000. This project still needs a feasibility study. It will involve reconstruction of the stretch between Front Street and Plainview Lane. Assessments are estimated at $110,000. Olson said the project would be the best candidate for postponement if any of the other four projects take longer than planned or go over budget.

Olson said that the city is entering a crucial phase of street reconstruction.

&uot;Many of Albert Lea’s streets were surfaced in the 1950s and 1960s and it’s about time to redo them,&uot; Olson said. &uot;You can only patch and resurface so many times. Eventually, reconstruction is necessary and that’s where we are with a lot of streets in town.&uot;

Residents of Albert Lea who will be assessed for the projects will receive notices of neighborhood meetings in the mail, said Sparks.

Other city council action from Monday:

n A public hearing on a liquor license for Applebee’s was set for the council’s next meeting, Jan. 22.

n Councilor Dave McPherson was appointed mayor pro-tem for the year. Councilor Ron Sorenson was nominated for the job, but declined.