Greenwood Avenue neighbors hear of plans for road construction projects coming this summer
Three main projects are being planned to create the best routes to health care and one will create a new look for those along Greenwood Avenue.
WADENA — With new utilities making their way soon to the new Tri-County Health Care facility west of Wadena, new roadways will be laid, too.
To explain road changes coming to the neighborhood, particularly those along Greenwood Avenue in northwest Wadena, Wadena County staff explained the process Thursday, March 17, in a public meeting.
Of chief concern among those present was how the road changes will affect their property. County engineer Darin Fellbaum and Bolton and Menk project engineer Anthony Maule used maps and their knowledge on the topic to better explain what's to come.
The now gravel roadway will be straightened where it now curves. In order to do that, the county is working with a land owner to secure the land needed.
The road will be more narrow in some sections and slightly wider in others. Elevation of up to 3-4 feet could be added in portions, curb and gutter is added in two portions as well. Most of those changes are coming to deal with the fact that this lowland area is also quite flat. That's probably what makes this area more of a challenge in trying to divert water away from the road and people's driveways, Maule explained.
It will no longer be gravel as asphalt will be added. Where the road currently sits will also shift to the south slightly as the road and a new 10-foot asphalt walking trail (to be added on the north side) will closely cradle what's now the center of the roadway.
While rated for 40 miles per hour, the road will be signed for 30 mph travel. Residents shared that traffic speeds are now excessive and suggested the idea of stop signs or speed bumps to slow people down. Fellbaum responded that they would not be adding those beyond what stop signs already exist on that path.
Fellbaum explained that the asphalt roadway and straighter path are safety features as it's expected this will be a likely path of emergency vehicle travel once the new hospital is operational. They don't wish to add anything that would impede travel time. Excessive speeds by other drivers is an issue that local law enforcement can work to resolve.
This planning has so far required extensive collaboration with the city of Wadena, Wadena and Otter Tail counties and the state related to transportation infrastructure over the last few years. The changes coming for U.S. Hwy 10, 11th Street/CSAH 92 and Greenwood Avenue are due to the fact that this will no longer just be a residential roadway and access to the county landfill. It’s expected that vehicle counts are going to increase immensely as this becomes the main access to this region’s health care needs.
No cost to property owners
Fellbaum made it clear and property owners were relieved to hear that the roadwork is not being paid by them, at least not directly. This road work, because it is now a state aid highway, is paid for with state aid funds, derived from gas tax dollars. So anyone filling their tank with fuel in Minnesota is helping cover the cost.
Where property owners would have to pay is through the utility improvements, which is a separate project by the city being done in conjunction with the roadwork. What those assessments may be are still being discussed by the city council following a public hearing. It's most likely that assessments will only come for those who tap into these new sewer and water lines, current or future property owners. Most of the utility cost is already being paid for by Tri-County Health Care as their new facility is the main reason these changes are coming about.
While residents were full of questions, most were answered and Fellbaum explained that he is ready and willing to talk with property owners about the changes to come and what would be most beneficial to each property as each has its own uniqueness. Those unable to attend can still reach Fellbaum at Darin.Fellbaum@WCMN.US or 218-631-7636.
Work in 2022-2023
First work led by Wadena County will take place at the intersection of Hwy 10 and 11th Street/County Rd. 92. This is a realignment project and could include lane and shoulder closures this summer.
The entry onto 11th Street is being realigned so that these roads are perpendicular to each other. This is a safety change to avoid an angled approach.
“We’re going to improve that tie in point so it is perpendicular. So people can get their best sight distance east or west,” Wadena County Highway Engineer Darin Fellbaum said.
Tri-County Health Care also purchased a portion of property on the east side of 11th Street in order to open up some of this area, including tree clearing, to create better visibility for those entering Hwy 10.
Another concern at this location is that it’s currently a 60 mph zone on Hwy 10, hardly the speeds hospital leaders want to see as this will be a spot where many motorists need to cross over lanes of traffic to reach the facility. Beiswenger said it’s been made clear to MnDOT that the desire is to see this zone lowered more to the point of where speed is decreased to 40 mph near Wadena Hide and Fur.
“We certainly have already expressed to MnDOT our desires,” Beiswenger said.”We believe a lower speed limit is more appropriate.”
This $550,000 intersection project is partially funded with $350,000 appropriated through the TED (Transportation Economic Development) and remaining costs would be paid for by Tri-County Health Care.
Fellbaum has been working with engineer firm Bolton and Menk to also have the 11th Street and Greenwood Avenue areas ready for takeoff during this spring, summer and fall. They are involved in all three of the projects that will be taking place over the next two years.
“We’re hoping to bid in early summer,” Fellbaum said of these projects. He said they want to see the TH 10 project complete in 2022, while the other two will have significant completion and a final course going on in spring 2023.
To add to the fun is the planned increase to four-lanes for all of Hwy 10 that is now two lanes to the east and west of Wadena. This section in front of the hospital is currently two lanes. The four lane change will of course add two lanes here along with turn lanes. Unfortunately, this project is likely to occur in 2025, beyond the opening of the new health facility, according to current projections by MnDOT.
In April 2021, MnDOT District 3 received $5 million of Project Development Bond Funds for the Highway 10 gap project from the bonding package passed in fall 2020. An additional $30 million of Trunk Highway Bond Funds was appropriated for the project in June 2021 as part of the 2021 Omnibus Transportation Bill.
It’s estimated to cost $40-60 million to complete this four-lane project, meaning there is a need for further federal funding to make this happen. It’s currently being designed, according to MnDOT, with considerations that the public is eager to see this completed soon.