Council gives nod to street project

Published 9:44 am Thursday, May 28, 2015

Residents still concerned about price, flooding

The Albert Lea City Council on Tuesday voted to move forward with the reconstruction of a portion of Virginia Place and Fifth Street.

The reconstruction includes 1,400 feet on Virginia Place from Fourth Street to Seventh Street and 1,200 feet on Fifth Street from South Broadway to St John Avenue, along with sidewalk and utilities replacement.

Steven Jahnke

Steven Jahnke

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Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke said the streets are in poor condition and have been on the city’s project list since 2003. He said they have been a challenging project because of high cost.

Cost is estimated at $2.1 million, with 20 percent expected to come from assessments. The remainder is city cost and will be paid for through the sewer or water funds or from local bonding.

Jahnke said the average assessment is $7,275, while the highest is $14,820 per parcel.

During the Tuesday meeting, several people questioned the size of the assessments and whether the project would resolve other flooding issues in the area.

One property owner, Jay Johnson, said he is in favor of the project, but he questioned his assessment because he didn’t think his property value would gain much.

Another proper owner, Troy Christensen, said other than not having to deal with potholes, he does not see what benefit there would be. He said as long as there is periodic flooding in the area, that will lead to continued deterioration of the road.

Jahnke said the project does not resolve the flooding concerns in the area, but that flooding would likely still happen in the event of heavy rains. To solve the problem, the capacity at the lift station in that area would have to be doubled or tripled in size and the storm sewer line on every street from Virginia Place to Albert Lea Lake would have to be reconstructed.

Third Ward Councilor George Marin said he would like to see those issues tackled first and said he does not think it is right to push the costs on residents when the flooding is not fixed.

“Are we putting a lot of money into a project that we’re going to have to rip apart again?” he said. “That’s not a very good thing to do.”

At the same time, he said no one deserves to drive on roads that are in such poor condition.

The vote passed 6-0. Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson was absent.