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BE project affects 10 city blocks

By Staff | Jan 24, 2011

This coming summer, the city of Blue Earth will try to accomplish its biggest street and utility project yet – with an estimated price tag of $3.15 million.

It will include a 10-block area, affecting residents on Galbraith, 10th and 11th streets, most of it around the United Hospital District campus.

“We have done a three block and four block area before,” says City Administrator Kathy Bailey. “Last summer we did a five-block project on Fourth Street. But, this is a much larger project, for sure.”

Bailey says it was originally planned to be about half the size, but grew when the city’s street committee dug into the plan and studied the overall scope.

“They added more blocks of Galbraith Street, in order to provide a good truck access to the hospital,” Bailey says. “Then, they added a block of 10th (between Galbraith and Ramsey) in order to put in better storm sewer lines, to alleviate some of the flooding problems in the area.”

The last addition was a block of 11th, also between Galbraith and Ramsey. That was necessary as the road surface is in need of repair, the committee says.

“It was interesting that there were no sewer or water mains on that block,” Bailey says. “All of the homeowners have private lines going different directions to hook up to mains in the next block.”

The project includes putting new sewer and water lines down that block of 11th, and hooking up homeowners directly. In fact, the total project includes replacing sewer and water lines on all 10 blocks.

Last Monday, the City Council received a detailed report on the scope of the project from engineer Bill Sayre of Bolton and Menk. The report included all of the proposed utility line replacement and street improvements. Plus, it has details of the estimated costs of each phase of the work, as well as estimates of the assessment costs to each affected property owner.

Last Wednesday night, members of the council and street committee met with UHD board members, informing them of the scope of the whole project. UHD is the largest property owner in the project area.

Tonight, Monday, Jan. 24, at 5:05 p.m., the council holds a public hearing, where all residents in the project area – as well as the general public – can come and hear all of the details of what will be happening this summer.

The detailed report shows that of the overall $3,154,900 estimated cost of the project, $643,681 will be assessed to local property owners, including UHD.

In addition, UHD will receive an extra assessment of $227,500. This cost will cover the extra expense of making the part of Galbraith Street near the hospital into a street capable of handling truck traffic.

“Actually, we plan on making all of Galbraith, from Seventh to 14th streets, into a truck route,” Bailey says. “This means going from a 7-ton residential street, to a 9-ton street.”

None of the homeowners along the route will be assessed for the extra cost of increasing the weight capability of the street.

“UHD will be assessed for its portion, and the city will pick up the cost of the rest of the route,” Bailey says. “We felt it was important to make all of Galbraith a truck route, so trucks can get to UHD from either Seventh or 14th streets.”

The UHD board on Wednesday was also concerned about the schedule of the construction.

Bailey and Sayres both say they recognize the need to somehow maintain access to the east side of the hospital during the project.

“One of our problems is that there are no alleys on those streets east of the hospital, to use for access to homes during construction,” Sayre says. “It will be a hardship for those residents.”

UHD Administrator Jeff Lang says the hospital is in better shape for handling this project, as opposed to last year with the work on the west side.

“We have several parking lots open now,” he says. “Last year we didn’t have any available for a while. We can have our employees and patients use the lots, and leave the streets open for others.”

UHD also plans on demolishing the old clinic building this year, and completing some new construction on Galbraith Street as part of its ongoing building project.

“Scheduling will be a big issue,” Bailey says. “There will need to be a lot of communication and coordination.”

As part of that, the council and UHD board decided to meet again in late April, after the bids are let for the project, and a date for building demolition is known.