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BE City, MnDOT, disagree

By Staff | Nov 10, 2013

The Blue Earth City Council and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) agree on one thing, but totally disagree on another.

Both sides say two Blue Earth city streets were heavily damaged when they were used as part of a detour around the Highway 169 reconstruction project.

And, MnDOT agrees it is their responsibility to repair the two blocks of Sailor and Eighth streets and put them back into the same condition they were before the detour started.

How that should be done was debated for half an hour at last Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Rolin Sinn, Blue Earth resident and MnDOT employee, was at the meeting to discuss the proposal.

What the state proposes, he says, is to patch the damaged areas of the streets, then put down a one and a half inch overlay of asphalt.

“We will go in and patch and repair the heavily damaged areas which are about 20 percent of the street area,” Sinn says. “Then we will mill down to an inch and a half below the curb, roll and overlay the whole surface of the street to an even level.”

Several council members expressed concern that the size of the ruts and humps in the street caused by heavy truck traffic could not be repaired so easily. City engineer Wes Brown also expressed doubt about the size of the damaged area.

“I think it is way over 20 percent of the street surface,” he said. “The street also had about two to four inches thick of asphalt surface, not an inch and a half.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes had another concern.

“We have been told the surfacing would be just one and a half inch in the center, but down to zero at the shoulders,” he says. “Now you say one and half across the whole street.”

Sinn said there have been ongoing discussions at MnDOT since that first email and the current plan is to go inch and a half all across.

Since the streets in question are scheduled to be torn up and have underground utilities installed sometime in the next five years, councilman Glenn Gaylord wanted some assurance from Sinn.

“Will you guarantee this fix will last five years,” Gaylord demanded. “Will MnDOT come back and fix it if it doesn’t?”

Councilman John Huisman called the MnDOT plan unacceptable.

“What is acceptable is to put it back the way it was,” he says. “That was much more than one and a half inches thick.”

The discussion ended with the decision to have city engineer Brown continue to negotiate with MnDOT until a final plan is agreed upon by both sides.

The city will also have the street department take paint and mark all of the damaged areas on the two blocks to determine how much and how bad the damage actually is.

“We need to get this determined soon,” Scholtes says. “And we need to get it in writing.”

Sinn also could not guarantee when the work would be done, if and when the city and MnDOT come to terms.

Obviously, the first priority is to get Highway 169 open to traffic yet this fall,” he says.