by Dennis Dalman
Only two months into the new year, the Sartell City Council has already taken decisive steps toward two major, long-anticipated projects – Pinecone Road improvements and plans for a community center.
(For more on the architectural firm for the center, see related story in today’s paper.)
At the last city council meeting, members received detailed plans for Phase I of Pinecone Road. The updates were presented by Sartell City Planner/Developer Anita Rasmussen and Sartell City Engineer Mike Nielson.
What’s scheduled for this year is a concrete resurfacing of Pinecone Road from 2nd Street S. to just south of 7th Street N. There will be right-hand turn lanes leading out of Pine Meadow Elementary School and another leading into the Bernick’s Arena area.
Another part of Phase I will be to install roundabouts at Scout Drive, Heritage Drive and 2nd Street S.
Council members expressed strong approval of concrete (as opposed to bituminous) paving because concrete is know to last about 30 years, about 10 years longer than bituminous.
Also in 2015 will be studies as to what will “fit” into the future, such as how LeSauk Drive and Dehler Drive will tie into CR 1. Many of the projects for the years 2016 and 2017 are co-dependent on county-road projects that haven’t been decided yet.
There have been complaints about too many roundabouts, some council members noted. Engineer Mike Nielson acknowledged that fact but added that the nine roundabouts on Pinecone Road people have talked about were tentative solutions. In 20 or 30 years, depending on traffic patterns, there may have to be solutions at intersections along Pinecone Road, but that does not mean there will necessarily be nine roundabouts, he noted.
The three roundabouts planned for Phase I, Nielson said, will enhance safety, make possible a smoother flow of traffic and increase fuel efficiency by not making vehicles wait idling at the intersections. The chance of pedestrian injuries will also be diminished, he added.
City Planner Rasmussen gave accident statistics for the three intersections for the last three years: at 2nd Street S., 33 accidents; at Heritage Drive, 12; at Scout Drive, 3. The first two (2nd and Heritage) are above the state’s standard’s “critical-crash rate,” Nielson noted.
The roundabout at 2nd Street S. has been the topic of concern because of all the bustling businesses located at that intersection. Nielson said that roundabout will likely take about six to eight weeks to complete but that accesses to businesses should be open at least half that time one way or another.
The council will receive more detailed plans about Phase I Pinecone Road improvements (and other future projects on that road) in the near future, Nielson said. The council will review all those plans before any bids are awarded. The project will also be the subject of a public hearing, to be announced. Precise cost estimates will also be presented and then considered for approval by the council.