After several meetings with stakeholders, including other government entities, service providers, business leaders and residents, the Redwood County Board Commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Lon Walling voting against the motion, Oct. 17 to make no changes to the layout of the intersection of Cook and DeKalb streets in Redwood Falls.
Keith Berndt, county engineer, and Bill Helget of Bolton and Menk, presented a number of alternative options for the intersection at the Oct. 3 county board meeting, with the commissioners then taking the next two weeks to further study those options.
The top option presented to the board, based on their request was to provide a roundabout in combination with a parkway corridor that would have eliminated the existing frontage roads but would have installed sidewalks and maintained parking along DeKalb Street.
Prior to the discussion, some residents of the DeKalb neighborhood spoke during the open forum and reiterated their concerns about the proposal.
Royce Heffelfinger stated he hoped that the county board would not decide to remove the frontage roads, adding he felt that would cause a dangerous situation for those residents attempting to back their cars out of their driveways and onto the street.
Jon Hagen added he felt the best solution was to leave the intersection as is.
A second option was to create the parkway without the addition of a roundabout. Another option would offset frontage road access.
Berndt said this would require the acquisition of some right of way from the residents, adding the impression he received was there was not much interest from the impacted homeowners to pursuing this idea.
The final option was to leave the intersection as is without changing any of the layout or addressing what Berndt called the defective attributes. Berndt expressed his dismay that the project was not fully vetted from the beginning, adding this is a project that should have started with more input from people involved. The reconstruction of the roadway at the intersection will proceed as part of the larger project in the area that also includes be-low roadway level infrastructure upgrades.
The estimated cost for that work would be approximately $2.4 million with state and federal funding being used to help cover the majority of the costs. As part of the discussion, Berndt provided information regarding the addition of a full signal (stoplights), which he estimated would add approximately $250,000 to the project, as well as the possible addition of a flashing beacon at the intersection to provide a safer venue for pedestrian traffic. It had an estimated cost of $75,000.
The work on DeKalb Street is scheduled to be done in 2019, with the bidding and award process taking place in 2018.
When asked by Dave Forkrud, county commissioner, what the county has already spent in having the work done by Helget and others from Bolton and Menk, Helget responded the final numbers have not been determined. However he said during the process there have been up to three people working on this project, adding the bill will not be cheap.
In other action, the county board:
• Declared a state of emergency for Red-wood County which will allow it to apply for state funding to help with damage from a recent weather event.
According to Jim Sandgren, emergency management director for the county, a rain event on Oct. 2 brought another four to five inches of rain to areas in the county. That, he added, meant more damage to public infrastructure.
The request for state funds would come as a match with 75 percent covered by the state and 25 percent by the public entity. The county must have experienced at least $29,578 in damage to qualify, and Sandgren said the damage to the rail line on the north end of the county exceeds that amount by itself.
• Approved an amendment to the resignation of Steven Collins, who established his last day on the job as Oct. 17.
• Approved an amendment to the appointment of Jenna Peterson as the new county attorney now effective as of Oct. 18.