21st gets an amber signal

Commissioners at the Finance and Improvements Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon discussed the city’s plans for the 21st Avenue Northwest extension, which will eventually connect it to 30th Street and the Bolton Heights addition developing there. The extension will necessitate the installation of a traffic signal at the avenue’s intersection with the U.S. Highway 83 bypass, the extension of the shared-use pathway westward across the bypass, as well as infrastructural improvements to meet the needs accompanying increased usage.

The project as a whole is actually two separate items, with the extension in its opening stages. So far, the planning department anticipates an 100-foot right of way will be needed to accommodate the planned 3-lane roadway, with dedicated turn lanes at intersections. With an estimated cost at around $1,988,308, $2 million in general obligation bonds have been placed into the 2014 Capital Improvements Program for the project.

Appearing at the meeting with his concerns was resident Dennis Smetana, whose property would be bisected by the avenue when it gets extended. His concern was largely in the details, the hows and wheres of access points, speed limits, and drainage.

“I’m not averse to progress in this city,” he told the committee. “I look forward to this project.” However, Smetana wanted to be advised as the project unrolls, part of the negotiations and planning before rather than after the fact.

City engineer Matt Petron responded that the extension is still in its infancy. “This is our first swing at this project,” he remarked, explaining that details have yet to be ironed out. Given the committee’s blessing, once the project is approved by the City Council then an engineering firm can be hired to design it and staff will have authority to conduct appraisals and landowner negotiations.

The utility improvements are a separately-bid project, with South Dakota based firm Metro Construction the sole submitter for the project in July. Staff recommended the committee and council reject the bid, which at $2,258,542 was 31 percent higher than the estimated cost of the project.

A lively exchange between aldermen Bob Miller and Dean Frantsvog was had over the prudence of delaying the project further. Frantsvog was strongly of the opinion that from a safety perspective a stop sign currently regulating the intersection is insufficient, particularly for the walking trail which crosses the avenue.

Miller expressed the view that rebidding the project for next year would be most convenient. In addition to potentially saving money he felt that work would be unfinished by the onset of winter. What’s more, the city traffic engineer recently conducted a peak-hour count of vehicles using the intersection, concluding that a signal will not be warranted until the MarketPlace development is fully built up, sometime next year.

The conversation lingered on further after adjourning, but the committee agreed to reject the bid in a 4-2 vote. From committee, both items will move to the City Council for consideration at its meeting on Sept. 3.

Other committee actions:

It adopted a resolution creating Paving District No. 491, constructing improvements at Hammond Park for Minot Park District. Parks elected a project plan that would add tennis courts to the park, relocates its basketball courts across First Street, and makes some parking improvements. Estimated at $2,120,646, in addition to a new special assessment policy Parks will have to contribute 35 percent of the cost up front, or $742,226.

It will open a bid on Friday for Paving District No. 484, which will improve and expand the parking area around Maysa Arena. Estimated at $862,494, the project will be paid for by special assessment to the Park District.

It approved final payments of $2,000 to Tand Construction LLC for its work on the East Side Water Distribution System Improvements Phase III project, and about $17,211 to Main Electric Construction for work on access control at Minot International Airport. The committee also approved the closeout of a 2008 Federal Aviation Administration grant for improvements at the airport.

It voted to amend the 2013 Recreation Budget to increase the softball complex revenue and expenditure account by $36,779, as well as to transfer $326 in maintenance funds into the capital purchase fund. The monies went to My Turn PlaySystems, for the purchase of playground equipment.

It accepted a permit issued by the state Department of Transportation for Broadway Development Center to discharge storm water into an existing pipe in the South Broadway right-of-way. Ultimately, the water will find its way into Puppy Dog Coulee.