Transit, road projects win board approval

WashCo_logoA resolution seeking more money for a Newport transit station and agreements to share costs and maintenance of a major road and drainage project in Cottage Grove were approved Tuesday by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution seeking $405,000 from the county’s share of Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) funds and a $45,000 match from the county Regional Railroad Authority to finish development of the Newport Transit Station on the long-vacant Knox Lumber site new Interstate 494.

In separate votes, commissioners approved a cost-sharing agreements with the South Washington Watershed District and city of Cottage Grove, a maintenance agreement with the city awarded the bid on the $7.7 million repaving, intersection re-alignment and drainage project on Keats Avenue South, 70th Street South and Military Trail in Cottage Grove.

Department of Public Works Director Don Theisen said the proposed Newport Transit Center project would demolish the vacant Knox building and replace it with a smaller transit center and 200-stall parking lot off Maxwell Avenue. Once completed, the county would be left with six undeveloped acres it would sell to a private developer, he added.

Preliminary estimates indicate those remaining undeveloped acres could be worth an estimated $600,000 to $1.2 million, Theisen said.

Theisen said the Knox Lumber site location makes it ideal for a transit center since it is near major highways and adjacent to a railroad corridor.

“Just about every transit mode can be served in the future with the center,” he said.
The Newport project also improves a long-vacant area of the city, according to Theisen.

“This is one of the gateways to the county. One of the first things you see is a blighted building,” he said.

The CTIB board is expected to approve the Newport grant at its meeting today, Theisen said. The WCRRA will be asked to approve the request and the county’s 10 percent match May 7.

Approval of the series of agreements to share costs and maintenance related to the CSAH 19-20-22 project and awarding of the project to Valley Paving Inc., sets in motion $7.7 million in work to re-align two intersections within one-eighth of a mile of each other and a major SWWD drainage project, according to WCPW Transportation Manager Cory Slagle.

“With this project, we’re going to consolidate two intersections into one roundabout,” he said. “Most of the work will be completed this year and the roads will be opened later in the year.”

Slagle said the roundabout will be at Keats and a relocated section of 70th Street South. Part of the Military Trail intersection with Keats Avenue will be closed, turned into a cul de sac serving a nearby residential area and turned over to the city of Cottage Grove.

Along with the roadwork, the SWWD will install a 72-inch diameter drain line in county right-of-way along the relocated section of 70th Street, Slagle said.
A temporary bypass will also be constructed at the Keats Avenue-70th Street roundabout site to keep Keats Avenue open during construction, Slagle said.

Bids on the project were well under the engineer’s original estimate of more than $12 million. Slagle attributed the difference in the bids and estimate to the SWWD project which involved some work not done on other county projects. He added that all the bids came in close to Valley Paving’s low bid.

Work is expected to start next month, with the bulk of the project finished this fall, Slagle said. Remaining cleanup work will be finished spring 2014.