Council talks traffic and train

CR 12 changes, moving engine, topics at meeting

Although changes on Washington County Road 12 due to the planned new National Guard Armory and fire station might not happen until 2014, Washington County officials and the Stillwater City Council laid out their plans at Tuesday’s council work session.

“We are looking at access management along County Road 12 and the timing of this is tied to the fact that we are looking at adding an access point to the armory and fire station,” said city Community Development Director Bill Turnblad. “The county is here to discuss our options and alternatives.”

Access management is pro-active management of vehicle access points on roads to maintain safe and efficient highways.

Washington Public Works Traffic Engineer Joe Gustafson said the county believes that the Maryknoll Drive access proposed for the armory by the council is the best option. Gustafson added that the armory site needs a north-south street, which could involve closing off Boutwell Road North. Doing that, Gustafson said, allows left turn lanes, meaning that the armory access road must be aligned to Maryknoll.

The Stillwater Fire Department also needs safe and reliable access to County Road 12. With the access added to Maryknoll, it’s expected a traffic signal will be installed with emergency vehicle pre-emption signals so emergency vehicles will have a clear intersection when answering calls.

The second option Gustafson presented was a second access at the armory site west property line. But he said that idea could confuse drivers and become a resident access road when a median would be installed in 2015. He added that proposed access point would also limit sight distances for westbound vehicles and not be a candidate for traffic signals.

“We remain open to the idea of a right in and right out access after a median will go in on County Road 12 as this will allow people to turn right onto Manning or left into town,” Gustafson said. “From a county highway perspective, it is best to close Boutwell completely but we remain open to both options.”

Gustafson said the public would have an opportunity to offer feedback in 2014 as the design part of this process nears.

Gustafson said the County’s Comprehensive Plan for 2013-2017 has seven items currently under consideration for County Road 12: grading hills to improve sight lines, installing traffic signals, creating center left turn lanes, access management, drainage improvements and accessibility and pedestrian crossings.

The county wants to plan County Road 12 improvements with the armory and fire station projects. WPW officials hope to adapt the corridor and accomplish a memo of understanding with the city to layout expectations with the city going forward.

In other actions Tuesday:

Ward 1 Councilman Doug Menikheim asked city officials about the status of moving the Zephyr train engine from North Lowell Park parking lot.

City Administrator Larry Hansen said he spoke with City Engineer Shawn Sanders and the goal is moving Zephyr engine from the parking lot by Dec. 1.

City Attorney Dave Magnuson said there are two different approaches to dealing with the situation: under abandoned property laws, the engine comes into possession of the =owner of the land it’s left on in six months, so the engine might not be able to be moved by the city until Jan. 15. For now, it is being treated as nuisance property. Magnuson added that city officials located an address for the engine’s owner, David Paradeau and would send notice to him this week, Paradeau then has seven to 10 days to move it himself.

“Shawn has had a contractor offer to move the train back to Paradeau’s property for $10,000. I’m hesitant about this because we’d want to assess the cost to Paradeau’s property,” Hansen said. “My approach is making this stay his problem and I don’t want this to become a city problem. Another thing is that it’s right in the middle of that area where we fight our flooding and we don’t have time to move a train when we’re fighting a flood, which is why we have the Dec. 1 date.”

  • Certified the election results making Ted Kozlowski and Tom Weidner the winners of the Ward 2 and 3 council elections.
  •  Presented awards from the Heritage Preservation Commission to Roger Tomten, Brine’s Restaurant, Shane Fatland and Brian Schreier, and to 45 Degrees for the Annual Preservation Award, Restoration of the historic Storefront Windows award, Residential Restoration Award and Façade Restoration Award respectively
  •  Unanimously approved a request to construct a pool at a residence in the  700 block of Liberty Court. The Planning Commission originally objected to the pool due to the cutting down of Savannah oak trees on the property to add the pool. But a compromise that includes buckthorn removal and replanting Savannah oak seedlings on the property led Turnblad to recommend council approval of the request.
  • Approved the purchase of a bleacher heater for the Lily Lake Arena. The heater will be bought by proceeds from selling scrap steel from old rink piping