Oak Park Heights approves Frontage Road realignment at special meeting

This map shows the latest proposed design for the North Frontage Road where it intersects with Osgood Avenue in Oak Park Heights. The large building is Fury Motors' current building. The yellow shows the proposed frontage road alignment. The green section is an existing piece of Oren Avenue. Highway 36 runs along the bottom. Click to enlarge.

This map shows the latest proposed design for the North Frontage Road where it intersects with Osgood Avenue in Oak Park Heights. The large building is Fury Motors’ current building. The yellow shows the proposed frontage road alignment. The green section is an existing piece of Oren Avenue. Highway 36 runs along the bottom. Click to enlarge.

After the 3-2 vote by the Oak Park Heights City Council July 22, it appeared that no change would take place to the alignment of the North Frontage Road at Highway 36 and Osgood. A week later, new offers by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Washington County made the council reconsider its previous vote.

Council member Mark Swenson called for a special meeting July 29 to reevaluate the impact of the city’s ownership of a realigned Frontage Road. The council voted 5-0 to go forward with the realignment project.

“The council took action to approve a resolution that would change its previous vote,” said city administrator Eric Johnson. “The reason for the change was an offer from MnDOT and the county to work with the city.”

On July 22, the city council supported the concept of a reroute, which pushes the intersection of the frontage road and Osgood north about 300 feet and across from the north entrance of Walgreens. The financial impact to the city was the sticking point for three of the five council members.

To alleviate some of the financial burden, MnDOT has agreed to delay the return of the road ownership to the city for a period of four years from the date of substantial completion of the road construction, now projected to be Nov. 25, 2014. MnDOT will also be responsible for all maintenance of the newly realigned frontage road until ownership is turned over. During the last meeting, the MnDOT offer was for three years until the ownership turnover.

Also important to the city in the 23-point resolution is that the Washington County Board of Commissioners would consider approving a tax abatement plan. The tax plan would be used to help offset future costs.

For Fury Motors co-owner Jim Leonard, the resolution means the his business will be able to move forward with their plans.

“It was a wonderful resolution, and I am very happy to see three governments — state, county and city — work together to put this together,” Leonard said.

Leonard said that it is not easy for three groups with three different budgets to make something like this work, but he believes the best outcome was achieved.

“We will now have a safe Frontage Road for all people and businesses that use it, and we will be able to develop the land that we have to be the best it can be,” Leonard said.

Leonard said that the plans to develop the Osgood Avenue Fury Motors location will now move forward and will be finished around the time that the St. Croix Crossing bridge project is completed in fall 2016.

Contact Alicia Lebens at alicia.lebens@ecm-inc.com

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