DL moves ahead on west hwy plan
Last month the Detroit Lakes City Council agreed to move forward on the Highway 10 project west of town on the contingency that the city received a $200,000 grant toward a pedestrian trail along the highway.
The grant fell through, and the matter came back to the council Tuesday evening.
“We were very hopeful we’d get that funding but unfortunately we didn’t,” MnDOT Engineer Tom Lundberg said Monday afternoon during a committee meeting.
The total project — which includes work on Highway 10 west of Highway 59 and Highway 59, south of the intersection, plus an underpass at Highway 59 — is estimated at $10.6 million. MnDOT is responsible for $7.9 million, $1.2 million would come from MSA funds, $280,000 from state bridge bonding money, and the city is responsible for $1.2 million. The project is scheduled for 2015.
City Engineer Jon Pratt recommended the city move forward with the project as planned and use more municipal state aid money to cover the $200,000.
“We’re already going to use some, just use more,” he said.
The way the MSA funds work is the city is allotted a certain amount each year and can use funds in advance at no interest and then not get MSA funds for a few years, until the amount is made up.
The city can apply for the CIMS grant again next year, but Lundberg said there were multiple other projects that scored higher than this one, so it’s unlikely that they would receive the grant next year either.
Pratt said that there are a couple other options, including grading for the trail now and then finishing it in a few years when the city has the funds, but the cost of the trail would increase from about $200,000 to $400,000-$500,000, he estimated.
Another option would be to scrap the trail all together. But, when the project was talked about over the last couple years, and public meetings were held, one of the key factors for going forward with it was to provide a safe route for pedestrians off the main highway, so scrapping it wasn’t recommended.
Committee members thought the trail should be constructed with the project as planned.
“We’re always trying to find someone to pay our bill,” Alderman Ron Zeman said, adding that the council needs to just move forward with the project.
He said that Detroit Lakes is always being promoted as a destination city, with the bike trails being highlighted, but the city needs to actually connect all the pieces of trails to make a complete trail system and get people to town to use it.
On a side note to the highway project, he asked for a comprehensive look at the cost of connecting and finishing all the trails in the city.
Alderman Bruce Imholte said that while the trail to Walmart area is important, it’s important to local residents mainly and not tourists. If the city is talking about trails to bring in tourists, there are more important trails that should be constructed first.
Tuesday evening at the council meeting, Imholte said that he would not be voting in favor of the project.
“I was trying to be a team player last month,” he said. “This is not a high priority on the list of things that need to be done in the city.”
Besides not getting the funding for the trail, he said that he’s never been crazy about the underpass because he doesn’t think it will get used as much as estimated, and he doesn’t like the curve that will still exist in the Walmart area. He said he had hoped MnDOT would hold off a year on the plan.
Mayor Matt Brenk said he felt the trail along Highway 10 needs to be completed with the construction of the highway, but agreed that a study also needs to be done to see where other trails in the town need to be completed and the cost to do so.
“We’ve been planning it for a long time. I think we should go ahead with it,” Alderman Dan Wenner said.
The motion to move forward with the construction was passed on an 8-1 vote, with Imholte opposed.