County fleet management system ‘broke,’ fix proposed

New vehicle preventive maintenance program highlights DPW budget

WashCo_logoRoad construction and improved fleet maintenance were highlights of the 2014 Washington County Public Works budget presented to the Board of Commissioners during a workshop Tuesday.

Operating expenditures are expected to be more than $23.3 million, with money split among the Regional Rail Authority, survey and land management, transportation, administration, parks and grants and building services. Capital expenditures were almost $21 million. Those funds were separated for road construction, land acquisition, land improvements, buildings and structures, office furnishing and equipment, machinery and automotive and a capitalized consultant.

Fleet management is a major issue DPW officials want to work on next year. The county’s vehicle fleet is worth an estimated $12 million. However, DPW official describe the current fleet management philosophy as a “bust-and-fix” operation. Vehicles are quickly repaired when they break down, but the department has a minimum level of preventative maintenance.

The department plans to reverse the bust-and-fix operation in 2014 by implementing a new preventive maintenance fleet management system optimizing a vehicle’s life cycle and identify cost drivers.

The 2014 DPW budget allocates about $1.7 million to renovate the Lake Elmo Park Reserve swim pond and surrounding parking and picnic areas. The Lake Elmo park is breaking attendance records and the department wants to develop a business plan for the very popular swim pond.

Highway maintenance continues to see salt and fuel as major cost drivers, according to DPW officials. Since 2009, salt has increased $10 per ton to $59.84 per ton, and the county uses 10,000 tons of road salt annually.

The DPW 2014 budget also detailed major road construction projects for the next year. They include:

  • $2.5 million for the continuation of Pickett Avenue as the county’s part of the St. Croix River Crossing project. Stagecoach Trail North will be connected to Minnesota 95 via existing 56th Street North-Pickett Avenue.
  •  The county will contribute $200,000 to part of the St. Croix River Crossing project. The north frontage of Minnesota 36 at Osgood Avenue will be realigned to line up with the Walgreen’s entrance.
  •  $1.1 million to improve the management and safety of County Road 5 between Croixwood and McKusick. Pavement, intersection, capacity, safety, pedestrian and school crossing improvements are planned along with an analysis and potential implementation of a miniature roundabout at County roads 12 and 5.
  •  $300,000 to construct a center left turn at the entrance of Big Marine Park Reserve in May Township. The existing entrance is two lanes with eight-foot shoulders.
  • County Road 10 between Century Avenue and Interstate 94 will be improved with $1.25 million. Pedestrian accessibility, drainage, utilities and aesthetics are among the things that will be improved.
  •  $500,000 for completion of phase three of ongoing four-phase County Road 23 project in Stillwater.
  •  The County roads 20 and 13 intersection will be improved with $1.5 million.

The intersection is currently controlled by an all-way stop. Improvements include constructing a single lane roundabout including drainage, realignment and protection of historic property and expandability to multi-lane operations in the future.