City to weigh in on rail property

Published 9:45 am Monday, February 14, 2011

The Albert Lea City Council is expected to voice support Monday for the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners’ efforts to acquire 12.6 miles of Union Pacific Railroad property.

County commissioners recently announced a goal to seek out the route — which may soon be abandoned — and turn it into a multi-use trail.

The route goes from Hartland to Albert Lea.

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The rail line has not been in use for more than two years and is currently exempt, which means school buses and other vehicles required to stop at railroad tracks do not have to stop at these tracks.

Freeborn County has submitted a letter to the Union Pacific expressing interest in the route and will soon be submitting an application for grant funding to the Minnesota Parks and Trail Legacy Grant Program, which is funded through the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The funding would be used for property acquisition.

The resolution the council is considering Monday would support this application for grant funding.

Officials have stated the trail would benefit both Albert Lea and Freeborn County and provide an additional recreation option for residents and visitors.

During Monday’s meeting, the council is also expected to:

• Vote whether to support the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s request to include a $4.425 million Stables area project in the 2011 state bonding bill.

• Vote whether to accept the feasibility report and call a public hearing for improvements on Myers Road.

According to background information provided by city staff, Myers Road — which is two-thirds of a mile long in the Jobs Industrial Park — has experienced severe pavement failure and isolated flooding problems for several years.

The proposed project includes the complete removal and replacement of existing concrete pavement, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain. It also includes the installation of a new drain system, new concrete aprons at driveways, pavement markings and sidewalks on the south and west side of the roadway.

Likewise, it incorporates the construction of a storm sewer system including at a stormwater pond.

The proposed project cost is $3.75 million, according to the feasibility report.

The city is seeking out federal funding for this project, though it would be paid for with city funds, state-aid funds, federal funds and assessments.

Funding is expected to be determined in March.

• Vote whether to change the agreement for the Fountain Lake Bookstore to be between the city and the Friends of the Albert Lea Library.

Previously, the agreement to operate the used bookstore and coffee service in the lower level of City Hall was between the city and the Albert Lea Public Library Foundation.