Should New Auburn have more paved streets? In an attempt to answer that question, the City of New Auburn will soon send a survey to residents who live on gravel streets. The results of that survey will help the City Council make a decision on whether or not to proceed with a street improvement project this year.
The City Council is hoping to have results from the survey by February 2nd. It may make a decision on ordering plans and specifications for a street project on February 3rd.
At a public meeting Jan. 20, New Auburn residents were provided information about a possible $1.665 million street project that may take place next year.
The City requested financing in two different scenarios – one if the entire $1.665 million was completed, which would include paving all the gravel streets, or a $625,000 project, which would involve total reconstruction, reclaim and four inch bituminous, mill and three inch overlay, crack seal, seal coat, and frost boil repair projects.
Justin Black, engineer with SEH of Gaylord, told the crowd of more than 40 residents, that the plans for the street improvement project were based on a comprehensive street inventory conducted last summer. This would restore existing streets to a new or greatly improved condition, he explained.
The proposed $1.665 million project would require total reconstruction of approximately five blocks of streets, Eighth Avenue, north of Highway 22, and Seventh and Sixth Streets, from Highway 22/Eighth Avenue to Seventh Avenue.
Reclaiming and four inch bituminous surfacing are being proposed on approximately 11 blocks of city streets. This would involve grinding up the existing street surface, grading it and placing four inch bituminous on it.
Mill and overlay work are planned on about two and half blocks – Sixth Street, from Seventh Avenue to Sixth Avenue, and Fifth Street, from Sixth Avenue to half of the block between Fifth and Fourth Avenue.
Crack sealing and seal coating are planned on approximately eight and half blocks of City streets. Seven frost boil repairs are scheduled to be part of the street work.
Gravel Street work would involve paving approximately 19 blocks.
Utility replacements are not planned as part of the project. New Auburn’s utilities run in the alleys. The project includes widening all streets to 18 to 20 feet and some culvert replacement. When streets are widened, it is planned to avoid conflicts with trees and buildings, Black said. Streets would achieve seven ton capacity.
No improvements are planned on Eighth Avenue (CSAH 29), from First Street to Sixth Street.
The estimated project cost includes 10% contingency and 25% project-related costs.
New Auburn’s street improvements would be financed through special assessments, levied against benefitting properties, and the general tax levy, to pay for general obligation bonds.
Estimated assessment rates for the street improvements are $21/foot for total street reconstruction, $18/foot for paving gravel streets, $13.50/foot for reclaim and four inch overlay, and $11/foot for mill and three inch overlay.
New Auburn’s assessment policy states that street reconstruction and overlays are assessed 40% to the abutting benefited properties. Upgrading of an existing gravel street by adding pavement is considered new construction, and all costs are assessed 40%.
Seal coats are not assessed because they are considered maintenance.
Most lots in New Auburn are 66 feet x 123 feet, according to Mayor Roger Becker.
Monte Eastvold of Northland Securities estimated that the average interest rate for the general obligation improvement bonds would be 4.78% for $1.665 million project, or 4.77% for a $625,000 project. The average annual debt payment would be $131,000 for the $1.665 million project, or $50,000 for the $625,000 project.
For the $1.665 million project, the estimated average annual tax levy increase for homes with residential market value of $60,000 is $235.46, $120,000 – $470.92, and $180,000 – $706.39.
For the $625,000 project, the estimated average annual tax levy increase for homes with residential market value of $60,000 is $88.27, $120,000 – $176.54, and $180,000 – $264.80.
Eastvold said that since the first of the year, the bond rates have been declining. As of last week’s hearing, the rate was 4.5% on a 20 year bond issue, which is the length that New Auburn is considering.
New Auburn officials are also hoping to possibly tap into President Obama’s economic stimulus package, to help pay for the project.
If the council takes action, plans and specifications for the street improvement project will be developed this winter. Bid opening would be held in the spring, with construction this summer.
Black said that contractors are looking for work and if the project proceeds, he anticipates favorable bids would be received.
Becker said that the initial cost to bring heavy equipment into the city for the street project is $50,000.