by Dennis Dalman
If all goes well, Benton CR 29 in east Sartell will be a brand-new road by May 31, 2019.
As so many motorists know all too well, that busy road needs work. It’s the one that leads from the Sartell bridge east to Hwy. 15. It goes past Country Manor on the south and Val Smith Park and Evergreen Village Mobile Home Park on the north.
At its Jan. 22 meeting, the Sartell City Council gave the nod to the project, although a “no-parking” provision of the agreement was approved by a 3-2 vote, with members Mike Chisum and Dave Peterson voting no. Both of those council members have a cautious “wait-and-see” opinion about the “no-parking provision.” Once the roadway is redone, the plan is to have no parking along the north side of CR 29, where lots of motorists now park for the many activities at Val Smith Park, even though the park has some parking facilities.
The council, including Peterson and Chisum, are hoping parking can be resolved, perhaps by expanding parking spaces on the Val Smith Park parking lots.
Council member Peterson also expressed concerns about drainage from the Val Smith Park area that, he said, might be worsened by the road project.
At the Jan. 22 council meeting, the road project was outlined by Benton County Public Works Director Chris Byrd.
Benton County plans a reconstruction of CR 29 from the east side of the Sartell bridge to Hwy. 15, a stretch of about one-half mile.
It will be a county project with help from Sartell.
Estimated to cost about $6.7 million, Sartell will pay about $2.4 million of that amount, mainly for utilities projects and rights-of-way costs (about $60,000).
The new CR 29 is expected to improve intersection mobility, with a streamlined option for turns at the extremely busy intersection of CR 29 and Benton Country Drive at the southeast corner of the former Sartell paper mill.
It will still be a two-lane road, but there will be a center lane for left and right turns. The curbs will be widened by two feet on each side, and current sidewalks will be redone.
There will be a light-signal system installed at the CR 29/Benton Drive intersection right at the east side of the bridge, with options for left and right turns to ease traffic back-up, which has been rampant at that intersection during post-work hours.
The project also involves, at city expense, new utility lines (water main, sanitary sewer) in that area, which includes new lines buried more deeply under the former paper-plant property and a rearrangement of utility lines in a neighborhood just north of CR 29.
There will also be two ponds – a retention one and an infiltration one in the Val Smith Park/neighborhood. Council member Peterson, who lives in that area of east Sartell, said he is concerned about flooding in that area unless the project anticipates and solves the water run-off problems.
Benton County plans to start the CR 29 reconstruction project May 14, 2018. The final completion is excepted to be at the end of May 2019.