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Pequot Lakes discusses future ownership of state, county roads

The Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 3, began talking about the parts of County Road 11 and Highway 371 that likely will become the city’s responsibility after Highway 371 expands to four lanes east of downtown.

The city’s Highway 371 Committee has met twice and reported that the city currently is responsible for about 35 miles of road. After Highway 371 is expanded to four lanes east of downtown, the city could gain six miles of road through turnbacks from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Crow Wing County.

That would be a 17 percent increase in mileage.

Mike Loven, public works director, reported to the committee that he estimated quite an increase in the city’s maintenance and capital outlay budget with the additional six miles.

The committee reported that many of the road segments considered for turnback would require much more effort and cost, especially from snow plowing and snow removal, than the average road segment currently requires.

“In other words, the maintenance costs are estimated to increase more than 17 percent,” the committee report said.

City engineer Tim Houle of Widseth Smith Nolting said the council has to decide whether it wants control of the roadway, explaining the pros and cons of such control.

Council member Jerry Akerson said it’s imperative to the future of Pequot Lakes to have those turnbacks at some point.

Mayor Nancy Adams said the Highway 371 turnback won’t come for 10 years because the expanded highway has to be built. That project is currently scheduled in 2018. The city needs to know what it wants these roads to look like so it can negotiate that with the entity that currently owns the road, Adams said. That entity will want to know what the city wants.

“If the roads come back to us in good, perfect condition, it will become a city street that you don’t maintain like a state highway,” she said.

Council member Scott Pederson said his biggest concern is the cost of maintaining streets, noting the need to look 20-30 years down the road.

“We don’t want to kill a town with high street maintenance costs, and those costs will increase each year,” he said.

Ultimately, the council agreed it needs more information and potential costs. Houle said the committee will look into more information regarding costs and negotiations.

North Washington Street

The council and Houle also discussed design concepts for North Washington Street improvements.

Council members voted to design the road as a one-way street with curb and gutter up to Oriole Street and sidewalks along the Jack Pine Center and Expressions Shoe Center. Plans also are to resolve a water issue.

The council debated adding sidewalks on the whole block, and asked for costs to do so before making a final decision.

While talking about the possibility of adding sidewalks, resident Peter Herzog shared concerns with the council, including that he was disappointed he wasn’t notified about the potential improvement project when he lives in that area.