Andy Hubley,the ARDC Regional Planning Director, spoke to the Carlton County Board of Commissioners on July 9 about public meetings that will be conducted in the area to gather input about rebuilding a portion of Minnesota Highway 210 through Jay Cooke Park. The highway had been washed out in the June 2012 flood.
Hubley explained that Highway 210 is being rebuilt from the visitors’ center to Oldenburg Point at the present time but this request for input is for the portion beyond the point to Highway 23. The highway provides access to Minnesota Power’s hydroelectric plant.
Two alternatives routes take 21 minutes or 14 minutes, said Hubley.
“There are concerns for businesses, and motorcycle traffic tend to use that road (210),” said Hubley. “We hope to be done (receiving input) by the end of the year. We hope to get input from outside of the area. If the road doesn’t open, it makes all of the trails a 10-minute loop.”
Hubley said that he is expecting the meetings to gather public input to begin in August or September.
The commissioners asked about the impact on the county road system.
Hubley reported that, because of the two alternative routes, the traffic is split. The impact on the southern route, County Road 18, was estimated at 100 vehicles a day.
The commissioners discussed the proposal to charge a wheelage tax of $10 per vehicle registered in the county, as provided in a law passed by the Legislature, to raise funds for repair of county roads and for Safe Routes to School funding.
It is estimated that the wheelage tax would generate $320,000 in revenue per year.
The county would have to make a decision by August 1 for the tax to be implemented.
The county is also able to charge a one-half percent sales tax to raise an estimated $975,000 in funding for the road repairs.
County Engineer Mike Tardy said that there are 71 or 72 miles of paved roads within the county.
The commissioners were reluctant to make a decision.
“The people in the county think that it went through (the Legislature) too fast,” said Commissioner Gary Peterson. “We could do both or either one of the taxes.”
Board Chair Bob Olean said that he didn’t want to make a decision right then, that he wanted more discussion.
Commissioner Peterson said that it could wait until next year, if necessary.