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Jenkins: Council discusses new road work, safety

The Jenkins City Council discussed work on a frontage road, an access road and a Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway spur at Feb. 14 and 22 meetings. Plans include a frontage road designed to allow southbound traffic to turn left and access the A-Pine Resta...

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View the entire Highway 371 four lane expansion project map at http://dot.state.mn.us/d3/hwy371/layout.pdf . Map courtesy MnDOT.

The Jenkins City Council discussed work on a frontage road, an access road and a Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway spur at Feb. 14 and 22 meetings.

Plans include a frontage road designed to allow southbound traffic to turn left and access the A-Pine Restaurant and other businesses near the County State Aid Highway 16 and Highway 371 intersection. The city requested this road during the municipal consent phase of the Highway 371 construction planning process because left turns at the current access points would have been closed due to their location in respect to the intersection.

Plans have changed since early proposals for the frontage road, specifically where the access road is concerned. The first designs for the access road had it adjacent to Murphy Avenue, though that road was relocated 16 feet. The new design does not relocate Murphy Avenue, so the access road needed to move 16 feet.

This was cause for some contention because the new design requires additional right-of-way from property owner Todd Beyer, who was at the meeting.

Council member Chuck Hoffman opposed the current plan to get bids out of concern that the city might need to change plans yet again if things change on the highway construction. In that instance, the city would have to pay for more engineering fees.

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In contrast, the purpose behind approving the contract now, Mayor Jon Lubke said, was to open bids while the city has the potential to benefit from lower prices. The city engineers have said that if the council can secure a bid from Mathiowetz Construction, which is working on the Highway 371 project, the construction costs might be lower due to the company's current local "mobilization."

Hoffman was the sole vote in opposition of approving the plans presented Feb. 22.

Beyer was also present at the meeting to discuss the access road and right-of-way. He informed the council that he was willing to grant the new right-of-way but wanted to know if he was getting anything out of it.

He explained that in addition to his property north of the intersection in question, he has property to the south with access on the highway. That property, however, has no turning lane off the finished Highway 371 construction. Construction of a turning lane would be done at a cost to Beyer, and he wanted to know if the city would offer assistance in any form.

The council did agree that it would be amenable to working with Beyer in the future if he were to seek a tax increment finance plan for his properties or other financial assistance for development, though council members said they were open to doing so for other business owners in the same way.

Beyer asked if they would write a letter showing their support, and council members agreed, with the understanding that the members of this council could not speak for future members.

Plans also included work to improve County State Aid Highway 145, which runs from CSAH 16 (just behind the A-Pine) to Veterans Avenue in Jenkins. The council's goal is to widen CSAH 145 to 12-foot lanes and 6-foot shoulders to make it a safer route for both the increased vehicle traffic expected once the Highway 371 expansion is finished and for the multi-purpose trail use it receives now.

Though CSAH 145 belongs to the county, the city has decided to contribute to the improvements because it is anticipated motorists will use that road to relieve congestion on Highway 371, given the fact that the four-lane expansion ends in Jenkins and creates what the council called a "bottleneck."

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Part of the discussion included design plans for the CSAH 145 intersection with CSAH 16. Current designs propose an Americans with Disabilities Act ramp on each corner of the four-way intersection, with crosswalk paint in at least two directions but no new traffic controls.

The ramps would allow those using the new 6-foot shoulders to turn toward the existing trail systems without having to walk in traffic on CSAH 16. This is only the first leg of the project.

The council agreed to allow Lubke to continue speaking to property owners along the right-of-way of CSAH 145 from Veterans Avenue to County Road 15 to bolster support for a second leg of this same project.

Related Topics: JENKINS CITY COUNCILJENKINS
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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