The township road most traveled

West Lakeland official seeks talks with county about 22nd street

As the Washington County Board of Commissioners learned the parts of the St. Croix River Crossing project the county is responsible for building or maintaining, one township road that’s not part of the project got a lot of attention.

West Lakeland Township Board Chairman Dan Kyllo told commissioners and Washington Public Works officials the township needs help addressing a street that has seen traffic counts soar in the wake of the temporary closure of the Lift Bridge.

Kyllo said traffic counts on 22nd Street between Stagecoach Road and Minnesota Highway 95 have gone from almost 4,000 vehicles per day to 6,600 vehicles a day after the Lift Bridge closed.

Some of the 22nd Street traffic is parents bringing their children to St. Croix Preparatory Academy while other motorists live in nearby developments, Kyllo added.

Safety is another issue with the road, Kyllo said. The stretch of 22nd Street between Stagecoach Road and Minnesota Highway 95 is hilly and the 22nd Street-MN 95 intersection is at the bottom of a six- to seven-degree incline, he noted.

“It’s already exceeded 60 percent as far as Metropolitan Council estimates,” he said. “It’s starting to break down. There are some intersection issues.”

West Lakeland Township officials want to start talks with the county about improving 22nd Street and having the county take over the road, Kyllo said. The township declined state funds to fix the road a year ago due to timing, then applied for state funds this year and was turned down, he added.

“It’s no longer a township road,” he said. “It’s getting more and more dangerous to get out on that road. We just want to start those discussions now. We know it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Kyllo’s appeal came near the end of a workshop that outlined the parts of the St. Croix River bridge project the county will be responsible for maintaining.

County Engineer Wayne Sandburg said among the county’s responsibilities under an agreement with the state Department of Transportation include replacing burned out traffic signal bulbs at Minnesota Highway 36 intersections and snow removal from frontage roads and the new Beach Road bridge.

MnDOT also wants the county to help with runoff pond maintenance once the project is finished, Sandburg said. Dredging sediment from those ponds costs about $30,000 to $45,000 and is done every 20 to 30 years, he added.

Another area Sandburg said the county would be responsible for is sponsoring funds used to pay for utility relocation in Oak Park Heights as part of the Minnesota bridge approach work.

Sandburg said officials would identify utility work to be done, MnDOT would do the work to Oak Park Heights’ satisfaction and the county disburses the money to the state.

“Washington County is asked to be the sponsor of the funds. MnDOT would approve the application. There’s no risk to Washington County,” he said.

One project associated with the St. Croix Crossing the county will build in 2014 is realignment of Pickett Avenue.

WPW Project Manager Cory Schlagle said the Pickett Avenue project would cost an estimated $3.8 to $4.2 million, with MnDOT paying $1.5 to $2 million. Commissioners will be asked to approve an engineering consultant contract next week, he added.

Schlagle said the Pickett Avenue project includes repaving and improved intersections. There are some challenges to the project, he added, that include limited rights-of-way in some areas, large Xcel Energy transmission towers from the King generating plant, some wetlands, finding runoff pond areas and soil contamination.

“We have some contaminated soil we have to deal with,” he said. “It’s mostly construction debris.”

As the workshop drew to a close, Sandburg urged commissioners to allow the county to reserve the right to review its agreements with MnDOT once the St. Croix River Crossing project is finished.

“We need to reserve the right to re-evaluate” the agreements, he said.