East Grand Forks council members still to determine what infrastructure project will utilize federal funds
Council members reviewed a total of six infrastructure projects on which the funding could be used.
EAST GRAND FORKS – The East Grand Forks City Council will need to decide what infrastructure project they want to pursue with $860,000 available in federal “subtarget” funds.
While the council last year narrowed the decision to two potential projects – a possible roundabout at the intersection of Bygland Road and Rhinehart Drive or rebuilding a segment of 10th Street Northeast – both projects have hit snags that could put them past the 2023 deadline to utilize those funds.
Council members initially voted for the roundabout in a 4-3 vote in April 2021, but their decision was vetoed by Mayor Steve Gander. The council then chose to pursue the 10th Street project.
City Administrator David Murphy said the reason the city hasn’t moved forward with the 10th Street project is because it’s not a part of the long-range transportation plan with the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and amending that plan is a long process. For the roundabout, Murphy said the veto hasn’t been overwritten by the council, meaning it still needs council action to be in line for construction.
Council members Marc DeMers and Clarence Vetter expressed continued interest in a roundabout at the intersection.
"My main point is that I feel that it is a giant failure if we don't go ahead with the roundabout project," DeMers said.
Vetter said having a roundabout at the intersection would be the best project to pursue with the funding, since it would help alleviate traffic congestion if a potential south-end inner-city bridge is built.
"The roundabout is the most feasible project," Vetter said. "There's no reason it shouldn't be done. We've had four-plus years to get that thing designed and developed and land purchased. ... We haven't done any of it in four years."
Steve Emery, the city engineer, and Jason Stordahl, the public works director, put together a list of alternative projects for the subtarget funds that meet the criteria of substantially improving city streets for the community at large, doesn’t require property acquisition or special assessments and is already identified as a priority project in the city’s long-range transportation plan.
The four alternative projects include:
- Concrete panel replacement on Fifth Avenue Northeast between 15th and 20th Street Northeast.
- Concrete panel replacement on Fifth Avenue Northeast between Highway 2 and 10th Street Northeast.
- Replacing stamped concrete crosswalks, replacing pavement from old railroad tracks, removing and replacing sidewalk/curb ramps and concrete panel replacement on DeMers Avenue between Fourth Street to 10th Street.
- Concrete panel replacement on Second Avenue Northeast and adding curb ramps between Fifth through Ninth Street.
Council member Dale Helms said he would like to see the funding go toward the work on Fifth Avenue Northeast, which he said is in bad condition from beet truck traffic.
"If we let that thing go very much longer it's going to look just like our roads in our industrial park do and that's not going to be good," Helms said. "There's panels up there right now that you've got to slow down or you're going to hit your head on the roof of your car when go through it. It's really bad."
Emery said the deadline for awarding a contract for the desired project — in order to qualify for the federal funding — is the end of June next year.
In other news Tuesday, council members:
- Reviewed a potential easement for a traffic signal pole and electrical cabinet at the intersection of DeMers Avenue and Fourth Street Northwest. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is in the planning stage for the replacement of the traffic signals at the intersection and is proposing to relocate the new traffic signal pole by either pushing it farther south along Fourth Street Northwest or getting a permanent easement from the city on the VFW parking lot property where the traffic signal pole and electrical signal cabinet could be placed. Emery said the decision to relocate the traffic signal pole comes as trucks have hit the signal pole in the southwest corner of the intersection numerous times in the past when attempting to make a right turn from DeMers Avenue onto Fourth Street Northwest.
- Considered renewing a master partnership contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Both the city and MNDOT have been providing services to one another for the last five years. If the council decides to renew the contract, it will expire in 2027.