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Downtown businesses hear costs of project

By Staff | Nov 22, 2015

Downtown business owners had a chance to hear all about the proposed Main Street reconstruction project that will happen next summer in Blue Earth.

And, how much it will cost them.

The Blue Earth City Council held a project assessment hearing as part of their regular council meeting last Monday. And, many of the owners of downtown buildings and businesses came to hear what the project will entail.

The three-block project will impact Main Street from Fifth Street to Seventh Street, as well as Sixth Street from Main Street to Nicollet Street.

Estimated total cost of the entire project is $2,097,255, city engineer Wes Brown of Bolton & Menk Engineering reported.

Of that amount, Faribault County and the State of Minnesota will be paying for nearly half, at $954,000; local property owners will pay $309,000 through assessments; the city of Blue Earth will pay $174,000 through the city’s street fund; and the city and Blue Earth Light and Water will pay $658,000 through their sewer and water utility funds.

“The water and sewer mains are funded by the rates for those services in the whole city, and are not assessed to property owners,” Brown explained. “But the service lines from the mains to the property are 100 percent assessed to the owner.”

He explained that the street surface and sidewalk assessment is not at the full actual cost of those items.

“They are assessed at 30 percent of the cost of an average residential street, which are much narrower than the 62-foot wide Main Street,” Brown says. “And we use an average of the last three street projects for the assessed amount.”

Brown said the cost replacing the water line system is estimated to be $378,130, with the city paying for $285,540 and property owners picking up $92,590 of the cost.

Sanitary sewer lines will cost $217,000 with the city’s share at $131,660 and the businesses paying $85,540.

The storm sewer cost is $121,645 and the new lighting is at $177,250 and neither is assessed to property owners.

The big expense is the street resurfacing and that figure is estimated to be at $1,048,867. The city and the county (state) will be picking up the bulk of that cost at $921,517 and local businesses will be paying $127,350.

Similarly, sidewalks are expected to cost $154,163 with the city and county paying $138,102 and the property owners $16,061. Brown noted that the sidewalks, which will be nine-feet wide, will only be assessed at the same rate as if they were a 4 1/2-foot wide residential sidewalk.

Brown also gave an update on the project schedule, saying this assessment hearing was one of the first steps. After the hearing was closed, the City Council officially passed a resolution to order the improvements and advertise for bids for the work on the project now set for next summer.

“The probable schedule is for the plans to be completed and submitted to the state for approval in January,” Brown said. “We will advertise for bids in March and the construction work should be started in June and last through October.”

The engineer explained the plan calls for leaving the sidewalks on Main Street in place as long as possible, providing for access to the fronts of businesses despite the fact the street itself would be torn up.

“They will have to take out portions of the sidewalk when they install the new (water and sewer) service lines,” Brown said. “But they can bring in gravel and fill in the holes.”

Water service may be shut off for short periods during construction but there will be notification to all property owners before that occurs.

Brown also said one of the other issues is the fact some major communication lines from Bevcomm run under the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street, but they will work to keep all services in place as much as possible.

“We will work with the project contractor and service providers to maintain mail delivery, garbage pickup and those types of services during the construction period,” he explained. “This has been done in past projects and it was worked out.”

Brown added that engineers will be doing inspections of the basements of buildings on Main Street.

“There are things such as old steam heat lines and other things we want to check out and take some measurements,” he said. “We have seen some things in other towns where the building’s basement extends out under the sidewalk. We don’t want any of those surprises when construction starts.”