Grant funding sought for Fair Avenue upgrade

The Park Rapids City Council on Feb. 23 approved preliminary plans and OKed advertising for bids for a street improvement project on the west side of town.

The Fair Avenue project, outlined in red, would complete a 10-ton, urban street corridor from State Hwy. 34 opposite the Park Rapids Area Schools to U.S. Hwy. 71 near the municipal airport, by way of Industrial Park Road. (Project location map detail from Apex Engineering Group)

City Engineer Jon Olson asked the Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday for authorization to apply for a Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) grant through the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

He said they are seeking $1.25 million to upgrade Fair Avenue between State Hwy. 34 and Industrial Park Road.

The completed grant application, included in the council’s agenda packet, describes the southern half of Fair Avenue, from Industrial Park Road to 8th Street, as a 28-foot-wide rural section, built in 1998 to a 5-ton capacity that prohibits heavy, commercial truck use.

From 8th Street to Hwy. 34, Fair Avenue is described as a rural section road varying from 22 to 26 feet in width, of unknown age and in poor condition, lacking drainage and pedestrian walkways despite high volumes of pedestrian traffic during the school year.

It is also heavily used for on-street parking, especially during fairground events, despite not being wide enough to support this along with safe, two-way traffic, the application states. Meanwhile, Industrial Park Road between U.S. Hwy. 71 and Fair Ave. is a 10-ton, 44-foot-wide urban section street, well suited for this sort of use.


“We’re looking at a full reconstruction in that area,” said Olson, “to an urban design: curb and gutter on both sides, sidewalk on both sides, sanitary sewer improvements, extension to existing homes that are unserved, improving some areas where the existing sanitary is susceptible to freezing, as well as substantial drainage improvements within that section.”

Although the section south of 8th Street is in better condition, he said, the plan also includes resurfacing it.

“The goal would be to have a 10-ton network from Hwy. 34, down Fair, across Industrial, to Hwy. 71,” he said, “really enhancing the access to the industrial park.”

Total project cost is estimated at just under $2 million, Olson said. With the application seeking the maximum funding available from the LRIP grant, the city share of the cost would be approximately $700,000.

He said the Hubbard County Board agreed to sponsor the application and approved a resolution supporting the city’s pursuit of the grant.

The application also requires letters of support from local businesses, which Olson said are a high priority that his firm, Apex Engineering Group, is working to obtain.

“If the grant is awarded, we should hear early summer,” said Olson. “It would be a 2022 construction project.”

Randall asked about the Small Cities Development Program (SMDP) grant that Mary Thompson with Heartland Lakes Community Development, at a previous council meeting, suggested pursuing in connection with this project.


Olson said it would take a lot of city resources to apply for the SMDP grant, but its application deadline is later in the year than the LRIP grant, due March 3. He acknowledged the opportunity to seek the additional funding to supplement LRIP grant, if it is awarded.

Randall moved to approve a resolution agreeing that the city will act as local project manager for the Fair Avenue project, with the county assisting as project sponsor for the LRIP funding. The resolution also pledges the city’s support for any project costs not eligible for LRIP reimbursement, such as engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction administration, inspection and testing, plus any project costs exceeding the amount awarded; and pledges the city to see the project through to completion.

Randall’s motion passed unanimously.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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