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City still hoping rail spur funding comes through

The Wadena City Council discussed and took action on transportation issues in its regular Tuesday meeting.

The council extended a lobbying agreement to Dec. 31 with Legislative Associates Inc. for lobbying for U.S. Highway 10 and the southeast infrastructure project. City Administrator Brad Swenson said it was a 2011 budgeted item, and Ulteig Engineers pays half the fee.

Lobbyist Ed Cain was present at the meeting and updated the council on Tiger Grants, which have a pre-application deadline of Oct. 3 and open Aug. 23. The transportation projects are with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the city of Staples received one for a U.S. Highway 10 overpass.

In department reports, council member Don Niles said he had a case in Washington, D.C. to argue and contacted Senator Amy Klobuchar's office, Senator Al Franken's Office and Congressman Chip Cravaack's office about the rail spur extension. He put together a fact sheet for a Federal Railroad Administration.

"I think we're in pretty good standing," he said. "Regardless of what happens, I was told within nine weeks, and hopefully much sooner, we'll get word on that."

Mayor Wayne Wolden said that he had received communication regarding the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, D.C.

The council also approved moving forward on the bid process for the Leaf River trail grant.

Jade Berube of Ulteig Engineers presented the plan, which would fix the "bad mile" in the trail as the base bid. There were three possible additive alternates. He said that the original idea - to widen everything to 10 feet - would cost more than the $200,000 grant and $66,667 city contribution.

The council approved letting Public Works Director Ron Bucholz move ahead with a parking lot, sidewalk and curbing plan around the bandstand, based on pricing and funding and conferring with the city staff and Partners for a Healthy Wadena board members.

Wolden said he likes green space and joked that he hugs a tree as often as he can in honor of council member Toby Pierce.

The council approved Bucholz's recommendation of Howard's Driveway for street overlay for 2011, at a total of $73,483.70.

The council discussed a letter by city resident Walt Wiskow requesting consideration for a turning lane off U.S. Highway 71 north onto Ironwood Ave. A turning lane for Shady Lane Drive on U.S. Highway 10 was also requested.

Police Chief Bruce Uselman said that turning lanes in general make for a safer situation, and MnDOT might have one in its plan.

The council approved an $11,000 agreement with SEH for engineering services because of pavement cracks in the municipal airport runway.