Issues remain with MnDOT, city on 36 work

    OAK PARK HEIGHTS— As a deadline nears for the city of Oak Park Heights to sign off on the proposed St. Croix River bridge plan, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) presented its concessions to the city at a council meeting this week.
Issues with the project expressed by the council earlier this year include work and maintenance of the frontage roads, trails and drainage ditches along Minnesota 36.
MnDOT’s concessions include continued state ownership and maintenance of the frontage roads;  paying for building and major maintenance of trails; acquire the right of way needed for a new trail; pay all construction costs, and continued maintenance of storm-water ponds.
“One unresolved issue at the end of Jon Chiglo’s (MnDOT’s St. Croix Bridge project director) presentation at the meeting was extending the project to the last 100 feet on Oakgreen Avenue,” said Councilwoman Mary McComber. “They’ve since agreed to that.”
Chiglo is reported to have said that as the project stands it will require no city funds.
The city however, will still be responsible for “betterments” or utility work under Minnesota 36 at a cost of  $3 million dollars. Those projects include water, sanitary and storm-water line replacements.
“If you look at our utility plans some are under the ditches and on the frontage roads and if we’re going to rebuild the highway it would make sense to get the utilities project taken care of,” McComber said.
McComber adds that the effects on the taxpayers for these improvements remain unknown, and ideas to offset this cost will be presented at an Aug. 21  council work session. The city hopes to figure out a funding mechanism in the form of 10- or 20-year bonds to offset the cost.
“No one wants their taxes to go up, and we need all the information we can before we make a decision.” McComber said.
The council’s decision regarding the project will be made on Aug. 28.