Upgrades planned for Bridge Ave.

Published 6:15 am Sunday, October 28, 2012

After a decade of discussion about the future of Bridge Avenue, local leaders have reached some agreement about the north end of the road.

The Albert Lea City Council and the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners voiced informal support Thursday for a three-lane road from Hammer Road north to Interstate 90. The road currently is three lanes for about two-thirds of the stretch, from Pilot Street north.

With both boards poised to make official votes on the issue at upcoming meetings, City Engineer Steven Jahnke and County Engineer Sue Miller said they plan to move forward with preparing applications for funding through the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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Though applications are due in February, funding would not be dispersed until 2017.

Jahnke said the project is estimated to cost $750,000 and would incorporate the following elements:

• A three-inch bituminous overlay from Algon Street south to Hammer Road.

• A four-inch bituminous overlay from Algon street north to I-90.

• A shared center lane with designated turn lanes, from Hammer Road north to I-90.

No right-of-way would need to be purchased.

The plans did not include any requests for money to go toward a traffic light or turning lanes at the Sykes Street intersection. They also did not account for a potential realignment of Plaza Street.

Jahnke said the application would ask for 80 percent of the full project cost, with the city and county providing a 20 percent match.

Councilors and commissioners informally agreed on each entity paying 10 percent — or $75,000 each.

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.

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.