Narrow lanes equal more snow storage

Board OKs variances requesst to state for Orleans Street work

Washington County officials hope that a slightly narrower Orleans Street from South Fourth Street in Stillwater to Fourth Avenue in Oak Park Heights will allow for more snow storage and sidewalks free of several sign posts.

The Board of Commissioners took a step toward that Orleans Street proposal by agreeing to request a variance from the state’s 42-foot design standard for the street.

Orleans Street, CSAH 23 and 24, is current 44 feet wide and runs through a fully developed residential area with several homes dating to the mid-1800s.
But county Public Works Department officials said residents along the street have difficulty clearing snow from the sidewalk after snow plows clear the street because the sidewalk abuts the back of the curb, leaving little space to remove snow.

There are also several sign posts in the sidewalk pavement that hamper sidewalk use by disabled persons.

Staff from the county and cities of Stillwater and Oak Park Heights have met several times about the project. Both cities have sent letters supporting the variance.

Public Works proposes rebuilding Orleans Street 40 feet wide with 11-foot through lanes and nine-foot parking lanes on both sides of the street. The narrower width allows installation of a three-foot boulevard on the north, or Stillwater side of the street. There is no sidewalk on the south, or Oak Park Heights side of Orleans. Broken storm sewer pipes also will be replaced and a bump-out installed at South Third Street.

The county and two cities say the narrower width on Orleans Street will alleviate snow removal and storage and sign post issues and enhance the residential character of the road and neighborhood.

In a memo to the board, Jacob Gave of WDPW said state Department of Transportation approval of the county’s variance request is contingent upon Variance Committee concurrence.

A similar variance from state design standards was granted for CSAH 23, the Third Street section from Orleans Street to slightly more than 400 feet north of Willard Street in Stillwater. That project was finished last year.