by Dennis Dalman
A Sartell woman expressed her concerns about a road-alignment study at the Nov. 24 city-council meeting and told council members it could adversely affect the safety and peace of her neighborhood.
Linda Treb spoke during the Open Forum session before the council meeting. The forum gives people up to three minutes each to address the council. According to the rules, items brought up cannot be discussed by the council at that particular meeting, but any concerns can be relayed to staff or discussed at subsequent meetings.
Treb was referring to the County State Aid Highway 133 Alignment Study. The City of Sartell, Stearns County and the study committee made recommendations to approve what is called “Plan C.” That would include extending the road from Second Street S., then just to the west of a residential area of Madison Crossing to Sixth Street, then west to 19th Avenue and CSAH 133.
Treb said she is concerned because with increased traffic will come more dangers. Treb’s home is in the affected area by Second Street S. Treb stated she is worried safety in her area will be jeopardized by so much more traffic, with more noise at night, more light pollution and by putting wildlife at risk. The plan would also be dangerous for the senior-citizen residents who live in the Grand View Apartments in that area, she told the council.
At least 15 homes and their residents, too, would be adversely affected, Treb added. She also said it could greatly reduce their property values.
In an email to the Sartell Newsleader, Treb stated issues of access in and out of the Madison Crossing addition regarding safety, sound and traffic have not been addressed and will not for another 18 months after approval is given.
Treb has also written and voiced her opposition in person at the Stearns County Board of Commissioners and twice at the LeSauk Township Board’s November meetings.
Treb is hoping the city council, city staff and Stearns County officials will reconsider Plan C or at least address concerns and problems before the plan is approved and proceeds. Treb has also written an email to Stearns County with her concerns about the alignment study’s Plan C and asking county officials to be more “transparent” about it.
(After this initial story was written in late November, the Stearns County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 13 once again reviewed the realignment alternates with the county engineer. The board then decided to reject alternates A and C, leaving the engineer and others involved to again reconsider plans.)
Estimates are the realignment to CSAH 133 won’t be done until six to 10 years from now.
Treb is not the only one opposed to Plan C. Several other people have voiced their disapproval, including Dan Heim, chair of the LeSauk Township Board.
In a letter to the Stearns County Board of Commissioners and the Sartell City Council, he stated all members of the township board strongly believe Plan D is the one that should be adopted, not Plan C, which the township board strongly opposes.
In his letter dated Nov. 29, Heim wrote the following: “The Town Board believes strongly that Alternative D is the best option to pursue. Conversely, Alternative C is the least desirable option as it would cut through several properties in the township and raises serious safety concerns for those living in the immediate area. The Town Board understands each option has its pros and cons, but as a road authority the Town Board believes Alternative D is the correct choice.”
The study, the plans
The CR 133 Alignment Study has been in the works for close to one year. The St. Cloud Area Planning Group is also a partner in the realignment effort. Stearns County hired SRF Consulting Group to do the study.
Study results offered four alternatives (plans) A, B, C, D. Those who did the study took into account factors of transportation, such as traffic-congestion relief to existing routes; environmental, such as wetland impacts; land owners impacted; cost; and public input.
Plans C and D emerged as the most acceptable with five of 10 factors rated as “Good” and four factors rated as “Less Desirable.” Plan C factors included five factors as “Acceptable,” one factor “Good,” three as “Moderate” and one as “Less Desirable.”
Plan C would cost more than Plan D, an estimated $2.3 million compared to well under $1 million for Plan D. Plane C recommends a road west from Second Street, then angling southwest past a residential area. The study states it would have impacts on residential properties.
Plan D involves a route from Second Street south to the roundabout by Pinecone Road and Heritage Drive, then directly west on Sixth Street S., which leads directly west and becomes CSAH 133. The plan would have no impacts to existing properties, the study states, but it adds that Plan D would not provide congestion relief to existing routes, such as along Pinecone Road.
CSAH 133 is a road that provides freight and commuter connection from I-94 west of St. Joseph to Hwy. 10/trunk Hwy. 15 east of Sartell.
According to the study: More than 10 years ago, a realignment of CSAH 133 between Pinecone Road and 19th Avenue to the west was begun. At that time, a large portion of that area was used by Sartell for extensive developments. A final alignment needs to be determined (thus, the study) between Theisen Road (where the alignment currently dead-ends by the residential area there) and to connect that road’s extension to 19th Avenue and CSAH 133. That is the route of what is known as Plan C.