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Downtown project earns engineering award

Monroe Crossing overlooks dusk downtown in Park Rapids' new showpiece. Audience members loved the charm, the new benches, the lighting, the granite lake panels. Most said the sacrifice was worth the end result and they want downtown used more for events. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Ulteig Engineers has received an honor award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota for work on a Park Rapids, downtown reconstruction project.

Park Rapids City Administrator Bill Smith recognized Ulteig for completing a project that was located in the heart of the city's business district and doing so with minimal impact to the surrounding businesses and the community as a whole.

"Throughout the project, the professionals at Ulteig had to consider the needs of affected business owners, the city of Park Rapids residents and the city council," Smith wrote in a letter recognizing Ulteig. "By being heavily involved in the public input process, Ulteig was able to gather critical information from the general public and business owners that assisted in moving the project along smoothly."

A key component of the project included continual communication, so Ulteig engineer Jon Olson spent much of his time engaging the public throughout the project. He presented at more than 20 public informational meetings to provide project updates and collect feedback from community members.

"Our goal was to keep the doors of the involved businesses open, so it was important that we inform the business owners especially to eliminate surprises and allow them to help their customers navigate the area," Olson explained. "The community really rallied behind the project, knowing it had to be done, and kept a positive outlook."

Ulteig provided comprehensive engineering services for the replacement of utilities and the reconstruction of streets and sidewalks. The project also included finishing infrastructure with streetscapes that included trees and street lighting. Street design for the project featured center parallel parking using colored stamped concrete.

Smith noted that since the completion of the project, Park Rapids business owners have received positive feedback and higher than normal traffic volumes.

ACEC Minnesota held a banquet on Jan. 27 to honor the 2012 Engineering Excellence Award recipients.