Engineer outlines huge infrastructure project for SE Wadena

The city engineer presented a preliminary report for an estimated $8.2 million dollar infrastructure overhaul of southeast Wadena at the February city council meeting.


The city engineer presented a preliminary report for an estimated $8.2 million dollar infrastructure overhaul of southeast Wadena at the February city council meeting.

"It's a very, very, very large project," Jade Berube, an engineer with Ulteig, told council members.

The proposed street and utility improvements would take place east of U.S. Highway 71 and south of the railroad tracks, Berube said.

The city has done improvements to infrastructure on the north side of town.

Two or three years ago city staff indicated the potential for improvements on the south side of town, Berube said. They looked at which quadrant needed it most. The southeast area was picked because it is where all the sanitary sewer runs down to the interceptor line, which runs down the old railroad bed, he said. The storm sewer runs down to Union Creek. Everything from the southwest heads through this area, Berube said.


"It's a melting pot," he said. "It's where everything goes through."

If they did the southwest first, it could create a bottleneck effect, Berube said. The southwest has grown, but the southeast is limited by the creek.

The report included a table with estimated cost sharing for the 20 percent assessable portion of the project and the city's 80 percent share. Not including any potential grants, the total assessable portion is estimated at $1,579,800 and the city's cost is estimated at $6,319,200. The total estimated cost of the project is $8,169,000.

Due to the size of the project it will probably be done over two years, Berube said, possibly with everything south of Dayton Avenue done one year and everything north the next.

"That's just theoretical right now," he said. "If a ton of money was allocated to the city we could bid it out as one project."

Berube will pass the report on to the county highway department, because there are some county state aid roads included in the project area. He will also give the information to Ed Cain, of Legislative Associates, who is lobbying for federal money for the U.S. Highway 10 expansion and the southeast infrastructure project. Berube also needed the council to approve a resolution accepting the report, which they did, so he could send it to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority to be put on a funding list.

Grant opportunities for the city will be examined and there is also the potential for small city development grants for private homeowners, he said. The sanitary sewer line currently runs through alleys in southeast Wadena, but having it run through the streets is easier for maintenance. Property owners will have to run the sewer line from the back side of the lot to the front side and incur the cost because it's on private land, he said.

The sanitary sewer line will have to remain in the alleys in much of the area north of Dayton Avenue, Berube said, because the business buildings are very close together.


Sanitary sewer

The sanitary sewer line is made of vitrified clay pipe and was installed between the 1930s and 1960s, according to Berube. Most of the existing pipe has become susceptible to root penetration. The lines are also undersized, according to the report.


The majority of the watermain is constructed of 4-inch pipe, which is undersized according to the Minnesota Department of Health. They won't allow the city to install anything under 6 inches, Berube said. The wider pipe will increase pressure and fire flows within the system. This may improve the city's ISO rating and reduce insurance costs for the city, according to the report.

Due to the current depth of the water main, the old cast iron pipe has also become susceptible to freezing, he said.


The storm sewer exists on First Street, Second Street, Third Street, Aldrich Avenue and Garfield Avenue, according to the report. Similar to the sanitary sewer line, a main line runs along Garfield Avenue for much of the southwest area, Berube said. The storm sewer heads underneath the old Homecrest area and into Union Creek.

The drainage system has held up well, Berube said, but they will look at all the piping during the reconstruction to see if this is the time to replace them.


Streets and sidewalks

Although the streets have held up fairly well throughout the years, they will need to be replaced due to the nature of the utility work, Berube said. Existing streets are 46 feet wide, but they are talking about narrowing them to 44 feet wide. The change will still leave room for parking on both sides of the streets yet it saves some money considering how large the reconstruction area is, he said.

Sidewalks will either be completely or partially replaced depending on their condition, according to the report. City staff will make decisions about sidewalk improvements.

Councilman Toby Pierce doesn't like the idea of narrowing the streets, he said. He wants the city to retain what it has.

"It's hard to see what the future is going to be like, but I don't think we're going back to horses," he said.

New York Mills has 36-foot-wide streets, Berube said, which is kind of standard. The streets in the older parts of Perham are 50 feet wide, but any new development is 42 feet wide, he said.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said a concern of his that might factor into street width is commercial traffic.

"I'm getting calls from residents complaining about semis zipping through their residential area," he said. "And I'm getting calls from commercial businesses who are out there who are saying 'it's costing me thousands of dollars a year to drive all the way around Wadena just to get back out to 10, 71.'"


Wolden thinks wide streets sort of encourage the truck traffic, he said. He thinks this is a good time to have this conversation.

Truck traffic has been talked about a little bit in regard to this project, Berube said. It is definitely something they can look into.

City Administrator Brad Swenson said a lot of these issues can be talked about once there is a design for the project. Everything is very preliminary now, he said.

"Our main purpose is to have a preliminary study so we get a good idea of what it's going to cost," Swenson said.

According to the report, it is up to the city to decide if the recommended improvements are feasible and cost effective. Further consideration needs to be given to issues related to the size and type of street sections, the final location of sidewalks, drainage, the sizes of watermain or sanitary sewer piping, and soil borings and sewer televising.

Berube shared a tentative project schedule with the council. It's the best case scenario and depends on where money for the project comes from, he said.

Tentative schedule

  • Fall 2010: Public hearing. Council authorizes project plans and specifications
  • Fall or winter 2010: Design of project plans and specifications
  • January 2011: Bid advertising period
  • February 2011: Receive bids
  • March 2011: Council awards bids
  • May 2011: Begin construction
  • November 2011 or into 2012: End construction
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