OPH agrees to land sale with state

MnDOT logoMnDOT to buy 2 small parcels needed for bridge project

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The state will buy two small separate sites in Oak Park Heights needed for the St. Croix Crossing Bridge project after the City Council approved the deal Tuesday.

The state Department of Transportation will pay Oak Park Heights $46,900 for land under power lines along Oakgreen Avenue and $500 for a small site near Sunnyside that has no public access.
City Administrator Eric Johnson said MnDOT is offering market value prices for the two parcels.

“We explored the values with independent appraisal firms. Generally, the offers by MnDOT are within market values,” he said. “The staff does not have any material fault with the two appraisals.”

Johnson said in a memo to the council that the smaller parcel MnDOT is buying “is a land-locked parcel with no dedicated public access and the city cannot effectively utilize such lands for redevelopment.” He added the city acquired this parcel by tax forfeiture.

The larger parcel sits under Xcel Energy Co. transmission lines and cannot be developed, Johnson said in his memo. The site does, however, have part of the city’s trail system, he added.

“This parcel . . . does impact the city’s trail way system and should not be released without some written assurances from MnDOT that the trail will be installed as proposed in the approved plan and a cash security to ensure that occurs,” he said.

Johnson recommended the city sell the two sites to MnDOT with the requirement that the larger parcel only be transferred after the trail is installed and any utility easements are held or replaced to the city’s satisfaction.

Earlier in the meeting, MnDOT bridge project manager Jon Chiglo said project officials are pleased with how work is progressing on the Minnesota approach and pier foundations in the St. Croix River.

“Both projects are on schedule,” he said.

Chiglo said the grade on eastbound Minnesota 36 is close to its final state, but work remains on Minnesota 95.

Chiglo said night hauling has ended and plans call for the old Beach Road bridge to come down next month.

“The old roadbed and Beach Road bridge will be obliterated in October,” he said.

Work continues on bridge pier foundations in the river and Chiglo said the pier stems will be visible sticking out of the river in October and November. Pier foundation work is scheduled to continue through December.

Despite the amount of project work being done, MnDOT’s South Greeley Street project office has received few public complaints, according to Chiglo.

“For the most part, we’ve had a few complaints about dust that we’re addressing,” he said. “We’re still engaging the public. For the most part, they’re excited to see what’s happening.”

Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]