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Construction for 2014 planned on Morris East side

Although the 2013 road construction season hasn’t started yet, the city of Morris is already looking forward to 2014.

On Tuesday, at a meeting conducted in front of students at Morris Area High School, the Morris City Council established the 2014 road project – a storm sewer repair for Oregon Avenue from East Fourth Street to Elm Street – and authorized the city’s engineering firm to prepare and engineering feasibility study and cost estimates for the project.

“We know that we have a major issue with the storm sewer system on Oregon Avenue,” said City Manager Blaine Hill.

Hill suggested that the engineering study also include a hydraulic study for the end of the storm sewer system to make sure it is sized correctly for the city and to make sure the system will address potential changes to the way the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permits and monitors storm sewer runoff.

There are also some “funky” intersections and roads that need maintenance down near Green River Road,. Colombia Avenue and Elm Street that could be included in this project, Hill said.

“It’s going to be a unique project in that they’re doing a lot of different things, but the end result could be that we have a storm sewer system that now works the right way, it could possibly meet the future needs of our storm sewer discharge that the state is looking at and we could do some road work to fix that road up and correct two intersection problems,” said Hill.

Hill told the council there might be an additional $1.5 million in federal transportation funding available next year. City staff will look at this possibility in their financial feasibility study.

City adds road maintenance projects to summer program

The city of Morris will be investing an additional $100,000 to $150,000 into road maintenance projects this summer, the Morris City Council voted Tuesday.

The city already had two summer maintenance projects planned -- “reclaiming” East Fourth Street and doing an overlay on a bike path on the west side of the Pomme de Terre River.

A reclaim is a new type of road maintenance where crews will dig up the blacktop surface of a road, mill it in with gravel, blade and flatten out the road then repave it, Hill explained.

This summer, city crews will look at adding two additional reclaim projects: First Street from Atlantic Avenue to Columbia Avenue, and Montana Avenue from East Seventh Street to East First Street. City crews will start on East Fourth Street, and then see what they can get to.

Funding for the additional road projects will come from extra money in the city’s Capital Outlay Fund and money from the liquor store profits. These would be one-time transfers and would not have an impact on future budgets, Hill said.

“The big question is whether or not crews will be able to get to it all,” said Hill.

“We’ve gotten by pretty lucky with the mild winters we’ve had the last few years,” said council member Kevin Wohlers. “This last winter, we all know, was really hard on the roads. It did take a toll. I think it makes sense to take a look and address the issues.”

“I think if we make a stand now and a commitment that’s what we want to do... that just gives our crews more power to go and work on the ones that we’re trying to patch up and keep in shape for another year or two,” said council member Jeff Miller.

“If there’s any one thing that we get constant complaints on, it’s when somebody hits a pothole,” said Mayor Sheldon Giese. “Nobody likes to do that, nobody likes to have a bad street in front of their house so we try to keep them in as good shape as we can.”

Council explores new airport hangar

On Tuesday, the Morris City Council voted to enter into an engineering services agreement with TKDA Engineering of St. Paul, Minn. for the design and construction engineering of a new hangar at the Morris Municipal Airport.

The 95’ by 110’ foot hangar is estimated at about $700,000. The federal share of the project is $609,000, the state share is $14,000 and the local share is $77,000.

“One of the things that we’re seeing at our airport is a tremendous increase in the amount of traffic and activity,” said Hill.

Superior Industries, for example, has purchased three new planes that are taking up “quite a bit of hangar space,” said Hill.

Hill said the city will lease the space in the hangar back to the individuals and businesses who want to store planes there to help pay for the city’s share. Hill estimated it would take from 10 to 15 years to recoup the city’s investment.

The Airport Advisory Board originally hoped to add a second, parallel taxiway at the airport that would have created a space for planes to get off the runway and increase airport safety.

However, changes to the formula for how federal and local funds are used to pay for projects made the parallel taxiway too expensive for the city to pursue, Hill said.

Instead, the board recommending working on the new hangar, a project that is on the Morris Municipal Airport’s Capital Improvement Plan and has been approved by both the state and federal government.