by Dennis Dalman
In one of the most ambitious projects in Sartell history, County Road 1 (also known as Riverside Drive) will be completely restructured and enhanced for utilities, safety, aesthetics, river access and recreational options.
The project, estimated to cost about $12.5 million, will even include a pedestrian walkway on the old abandoned bridge that has long served as a utility connection between east and west Sartell.
The changes will be made from Sartell Street at the south end to 12th Street N.
At its April 26 meeting, the Sartell City Council approved the feasibility study presented by April Ryan, project manager for Sartell from the engineering firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson.
Among the complex changes detailed in the plans are these: a narrowing of County Road 1 and reconstructing it toward the west side, utility reconstructions and improvements (including sanitary sewer, storm-water mains), trails, bike lanes, changes to or elimination of retaining walls, flood-mitigation installations, trees and other plantings, controlled pedestrian crosswalks, some riverbank restorations, new lighting systems, a pedestrian path on the old bridge and a scenic concrete-slab overlook above the river at an area between Fourth and Fifth streets.
It’s also possible the parking lot at Veterans Park will be eliminated and replaced by an artistic work to honor veterans. There will be a controlled pedestrian crosswalk to connect Veterans Park with Watab Park just across the road. There will also be a lighted push-button pedestrian crossing at Seventh Street.
Council members expressed approval of the project’s inclusion of ways to enhance access to one of the city’s great assets – the Mississippi River. The pedestrian path on the old bridge would be accessed from the west side only, behind and below the River Boat Depot. The other side of the bridge would be fenced off. However, project director Ryan and council members agreed the east side should be open in the future, once developments on that side become known.
The project is a joint venture between the city and Stearns County. Of the estimated $12.5-million cost, $7.5 million would be borne by Sartell. After some grant money and property assessments (estimated now at close to $900,000), the city’s share of the cost would be reduced to about $5.9 million. Ryan noted that property assessments would be capped at 8 percent of a property’s market value.
Preliminary and final assessment hearings at a city-council meeting will be announced. A public hearing for the project is scheduled at the May 24 council meeting.
Construction could begin on the project in spring of 2022.