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Road construction season begins

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | May 16, 2021

Now it’s my turn.

Or should I say our turn, my wife and me.

As well as all our neighbors on West 10th Street, those folks who live on the cul-du-sac on South Nicollet, everyone on Bartel Drive, Hood and North Walnut streets in Blue Earth. And most of the folks who live in Easton, plus those who live on several streets in Wells, and, well you get the idea.

It is our turn to have our street torn up for the summer for underground utility and street reconstruction work.

There have been many others before us, especially in Blue Earth where the city has tried to do several blocks of street work every summer. Last year it was the Sailor Street area and Leland Parkway. Those project areas will see work again this summer as the final “lift” of asphalt pavement is put on.

There have been projects all around the city of Blue Earth each summer, and we all certainly remember when Main Street in the downtown area was torn up and rebuilt not that many years ago.

But now it is my turn.

Since I live on the corner of Main and 10th, my back deck sort of overlooks West 10th Street and I almost have a bird’s eye view of the area. At least if the bird was flying low.

In the last couple of weeks crews have come in and re-routed gas and electric lines.

Then last week, on Wednesday, a crew came in and took down a lot of the trees on West 10th, all in one day. My neighbor came home and wondered when the tornado must have hit. He was right, it did look the aftermath of a bad storm.

I was lucky. My trees on the boulevard are far enough back that they did not have to go. However, many others were not so lucky. It looks like a pretty wide open area now, with so many trees gone in a day.

Of course, after the project is done, new young trees will be planted. But it will be a whole new look, and it will take a while for all those trees to grow large enough to make a difference.

I am lucky in another way as well. Access to homes in these construction areas is very limited. However, since I live on the corner, I will still have access to my house from Main Street. Of course, my driveway and garage are on 10th Street, so I will lose access to them during parts of the summer while the construction goes on.

Still, it is better than the folks on the South Nicollet Street area, where there is only one way in or out, and no back alley. Those folks on Bartel Drive and North Walnut Street have much the same limited access issue. I feel bad for them, as they go through the summer construction.

Others have had similar issues in the past years, with limited access to their homes. I know the contractors doing the work try hard to keep access open as much as possible, but it still is an inconvenience to those residents who need to come and go.

I am lucky in another way. My sewer and water hookups come in from Main Street, not 10th. So that should not be disrupted for me. And it means I won’t have to pay the sewer and water hookup assessment, which is over $2,000 each.

However, since the long side of my lot is down 10th, I will be assessed more for the street and sidewalk costs, so basically it all balances out with those who have shorter lot frontages, but sewer and water assessments.

I have commented before that Blue Earth has what I think is a very fair assessment policy. They take the costs of past projects and average it out. Then the property owner is assessed for 30 percent of street and sidewalk work, and just for the installation of their own sewer and water hookup lines, not the mains going down the street. Those costs are taken up by everyone’s monthly utility bills.

Still, even with this fair assessment policy, there are those who will face a pretty big assessment. It does get spread out over many years and is put on a landowner’s property tax bill, but it will definitely cause an increase in the tax total.

In the end I am also lucky that at the end of summer there should be a nice new paved street along the side of my house, and it needed it. The street surface was in really bad shape. So was the sidewalk and the curb and gutter. The curb has been crumbling away for years.

And the street will be wider when it is all done, which was also needed, as only one car at a time could get through if cars were parked on both sides of the street. And there will be new trees to replace those that got whacked last week. I hope they grow fast.

On Thursday last week, they stripped off the old pavement. It was easy to do, because it was in tough shape.

So we are ready for our turn to start.