The spending of state grant money to maintain Hwy. 5, now County Road 14, will require a balance between short-term needs and long-term investments, the County Board was told recently.
The state, which transferred ownership of an 8.3-mile stretch of the highway through Oakdale and Lake Elmo to Washington County, will provide $22 million for maintenance. Between 9,000 and 21,800 vehicles travel the highway each day, depending on the location, county engineer Wayne Sandberg told commissioners.
Initially, the new County Road 14 will need painting, signal upgrades, flashing yellow arrow installations and other hardware and maintenance upgrades at a cost of $270,000, Sandberg said. A stoplight might be added for about $250,000, along with two center turn lanes at $600,000.
For ongoing maintenance, the county will purchase a truck, a trailer and two plow trucks for $521,900. Salt storage capacity in Woodbury will also be expanded, at $208,100.
The county expects to hire two maintenance workers for year-round maintenance, including snowplowing. Those workers will be added to the county crew, which maintains 22 plow routes.
The county expects to receive an additional $415,000 a year in state money to maintain the highway.
Signs that read “Old Highway 5” will be displayed for at least two years.
Work on Hwy. 61 brings lane closures
Motorists could experience delays and lane closures on Hwy. 61 in Forest Lake as crews begin construction on Monday, Aug. 3, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.
Starting daily at 7 a.m., northbound traffic could be reduced to one lane on Hwy. 61/Forest Lake Blvd. N. between 210th Street and Scandia Trail N. The northbound lane would reopen daily by 3 p.m. In that same location, at 9 a.m., southbound traffic could be reduced to one lane. The southbound lane would reopen daily by 7 p.m.
Lane closures are needed so crews can begin clearing trees and shrubs and build a temporary crossover for traffic, MnDOT said.
The work is part of a larger project to replace traffic signals at the north and south intersections of Hwy. 61 and Hwy. 97 and build roundabouts. Completion of the $10.1 million project is anticipated next summer.
$5 million bond sale to fund open spaces
The County Board has approved a general obligation bond sale, which was conducted by the county’s municipal adviser July 20.
Piper Jaffray & Co. was the winning bidder with a proposal that included a premium of nearly $238,000 and an interest cost of 1.62 percent. The premium paid allows the county to reduce the size of the bond offering, by borrowing $4.775 million, and still receive $5 million of bond proceeds.
Washington County has a AAA bond rating, which allows borrowing money for capital projects and land acquisition at a lower interest rate.
The bonds will fund the voter-approved Land and Water Legacy Program, through which the county preserves open spaces.
Money for business recycling approved
Washington County will have additional money available to help businesses recycle waste in advance of a new state law mandating that they do so.
The $400,000 for BizRecycling grants will come from the Resource Recovery Project Board budget, of which Washington County is a part. The money was allocated after nearly all of $500,000 offered earlier was spent by June 24 because of “strong interest” to start or improve recycling programs, the county said.
Another reason for growing business interest in recycling is the start of the BizAware (Advocates for Waste and Recycling Education) program, said senior planner Judy Hunter. BizAware engages organizations such as chambers of commerce and nonprofit business development organizations to educate members about BizRecycling.
Money helps prepare for emergencies
Washington County will receive $189,275 to prepare for public health care emergencies.
The money allows the county to plan for emergencies and train people who will respond. Activities are extended to medical providers, school districts, police, fire and medical responders, and nonprofit organizations.
The grant period is July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016.