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Committee proposes adding streets to the 2011 reconstruction program

WILLMAR -- Portions of four streets severely damaged by spring frost boils and one damaged street needing underground utility work are proposed to be added to the city's 2011 street reconstruction and improvement program.

The four severely damaged streets are 20th Avenue Southwest, 25th Street Southwest, 11th Avenue Southeast and Fourth Avenue Southeast.

In addition, 12th Street Southwest needs utility work and reconstruction.

City Public Works Director Holly Wilson has proposed reconstructing 20th Avenue Southwest, 25th Street Southwest, 11th Avenue Southeast and Fourth Avenue Southeast because patching the damaged areas would not be cost effective.

Officials have said an unusually high number of frost boils damaged city streets this year.

"There were so many frost boils the cost benefit would not be there to patch,'' said Wilson. "It would be more cost effective to reconstruct because the streets are in pretty bad shape.''

The specific portions of streets damaged by frost boils that will be reconstructed are:

- 20th Avenue Southwest from 22nd Street to 25th Street Southwest.

- 25th Street Southwest and 20th Avenue to 25th Street Southwest and 21st Avenue Southwest.

- 11th Avenue Southeast west of Sixth Street to Ninth Street Southeast.

- Fourth Avenue Southeast from 24th Street to 25th Street Southeast.

Also, Wilson is proposing 12th Street Southwest be reconstructed between Becker and Trott Avenue Southwest where a sanitary sewer line failed and traffic has been reduced to one lane. Officials had a serious concern for underground utilities and felt the best way to deal with it is to replace utilities and rebuild the street.

The cost of reconstructing the five streets is estimated at $615,466. City Administrator Michael Schmit is recommending the cost be paid with a loan from the city's permanent improvement revolving fund, which the city uses to temporarily finance projects until permanent financing is in place.

Schmit said the revolving fund is being used because the cost of the additional reconstruction is too small to be financed through a bond issue. The loan will be reimbursed with proceeds from the bond issue sold for the 2012 street improvement program.

The proposed additional street work was presented by Wilson and Schmit to the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee, which voted to recommend the project to the council. The council will need to schedule an improvement hearing and assessment hearing before the work can proceed.

Wilson proposes adding the projects to the contract the city already has with Duininck, Inc., of Prinsburg for this year's street improvements.

The committee is also proposing the city seek bids from contractors to repair frost boils that officials say are too large for the Public Works Department. Wilson presented an extensive list of addresses where frost boils and utility cuts need repairing.

She said the city typically uses about 600 tons of bituminous patching material a year but may need close to 3,000 tons this year.

"That is why we have chosen to go this route versus having Public Works just repair all of them,'' Wilson said. "It's a little too much for us to get our arms around right now.''

She and Schmit recommended the $350,000 estimated cost be paid with funds from the WRAC 8 reserve. WRAC 8 is Willmar's public television access system. Funds in the reserve come from franchise fees paid by cable system operators who place their lines in the city right-of-way.

Schmit said the reserve is being tapped because the pothole repair budget is insufficient to cover the cost.

"Every year we put about $20,000 in our budget to repair potholes, but we're talking about frost boils here where streets have heaved and we don't have money in our operating budget for that kind of an expense,'' he said.

"We obviously have to do something about it, so we looked at our reserve programs and recommended they use some of the WRAC 8 reserve program,'' he said, and eliminate the need for an additional property tax levy. The reserve will have a balance of about $100,000.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150