Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Public input sought on roadwork

Public hearing set for March 7, county transportation building

 


The Carlton County Board of Commissioners set March 7, 6-7 p.m., at the transportation building (1630 County Road 61, Carlton) for a hearing to receive public input for new additions to a dedicated list of county road reconstruction projects. These county roads, paved or graveled, have road numbers above 100 and have had only periodic work done due to a lack of funding and calculated low public usage. The regular Carlton County Board meeting was held on February 14.

Four years ago the Minnesota Legislature gave Counties the power to set a ½ percent sales tax dedicated specifically for these roads that had lacked funding. Carlton County currently brings in about $1.5 million yearly and has vigorously improved roads throughout the county system. A handful of roads are to be completed in the next two years. A new hearing must be called for public input before a new dedicated list of approximately 12 roads are chosen for updating through this funding source.

Funding for these road projects comes from a sales tax that everyone must pay and collects revenue from tourists, weekenders, snow birds and outdoor enthusiasts, besides local residents and workforce. The public is encouraged to attend the March 7 meeting. Four working stations will be organized at the start of the hearing, one covering each section of the County, in which the public can view the proposed construction projects on maps, give input and suggest transportation needs still not addressed. The townships will also be asked to give input.

The final list will be approved at a March 14 board meeting.

County Highway Engineer Mike Tardy commented, “We have had an ambitious road reconstruction program going on and in reality we do not have enough staff to do all the planning work. Trained designers are not available for hire. It takes time to train people in-house. Hiring outside consultants may be needed as new work progresses.”

Auditor/treasurer Paul Gassert added, “Cash flow can limit how quickly some of this work can be done. It is quite evident that our revenue stream will continue at current levels. Short term borrowing could alleviate fears that we could not complete some of the projects smoothly. The County can now borrow money at 2-2½ percent for short-term needs.”

Northland was given the bid for County Road 4 at a $2.812 million figure for deep milling and repaving of the road bed stretching from Highway 73 to Interstate 35 east of Mahtowa. The county highway crew replaced all the problem culverts within the last two years. Work starts just after road limits go off.

Director Brad Matlack of the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) gave his annual report. He summed it up by saying, “Every dollar you as a county invest in the SWCD brings back a $7 investment in local county resources.”

May 2017 is the bid letting date for asphalt work on the west portion of Highway 27. Carlton County approved gravel pit development on the Wilbert Lammi property west of the Kettle River wooded flowage, south of Highway 27, and north of Lammi’s house. If they receive the bid, Anderson Brothers will develop the pit specially for the Highway 27 project and hope to eventually do the rest of the Highway 27 repavement east of the western 2017 project.

Carlton County Health and Human Services reported a healthy surplus of reserve funds, enough to fund programs for 7½ months at current levels. It was noted reimbursement from federal and state sources takes time. Guidelines recommend a reserve of four to six months. Local government entities are waiting to see how federal funding is affected in the next two years.

 

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