Howard board approves design of road reconstruction
By Kevin Boneske
HOWARD – The village board heard from residents unhappy about the planned road reconstruction project where they live along Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road before voting 7-2 Monday, April 12, in favor of the project’s design.
Trustees Cathy Hughes and Scott Beyer, who sided with the residents’ objections related to installing sidewalks and the impact they would have on properties, were opposed.
The board previously approved a preliminary resolution Feb. 8 when it declared the village’s intent to levy special assessments and directed staff to prepare plans and specifications for the reconstruction project.
It involves Evergreen Avenue from Pinecrest Road to Rolla Lane and Pinecrest Road from Devroy Lane to Evergreen Avenue.
Those road sections are being reconstructed from rural roadways with gravel shoulders and ditch drainage to urban roadways with curb and gutter and storm sewer drainage.
Director of Engineering Mike Kaster said the project involves the installation of storm sewer and service laterals, 37-foot wide, curb-and-gutter roadway with 11-foot travel lanes and 7-foot paved shoulders, 5-foot wide sidewalks on both sides and concrete driveway aprons.
Kaster said Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road are considered “collector roadways” with a right-of-way of around 70 feet to provide for additional space for the two lanes of traffic with parking/bike lanes, etc.
He said each side of the road has an 11-foot grass terrace to provide space for utilities, street signage, trees and snowbanks, while the sidewalks would be on the outside.
Kaster said all projects in Howard are designed in accordance with village ordinances and polices, state and federal design standards, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When asked why it would be necessary to have sidewalks on both sides of the road, he said it is perceived as a fairness issue for both sides to have them, as well as for safety to not have unnecessary street crossings for pedestrians.
Kaster said narrowing the road and eliminating sidewalks from the project, which were requested by residents along the two roads, would not necessarily save trees, because space for utilities and proper grading for the street would still be needed.
“Whether the sidewalks go in now or later, the design would still include the grading for those sidewalks,” he said. “If we don’t grade the road appropriately, put in sidewalks now, when you go and put them in later, you’re going to be tearing everybody’s driveway out…”
When the board allowed members of the public to speak, impacted residents voiced opposition.
Robert Bottom said the majority of the traffic in the area is not from residents.
“The majority of the walkers along the street would be residents that don’t live there, so the benefit to me is significantly less than it is to the town,” he said. “But I’m being taxed with 50 percent of the total cost of the roadway and the sewer. You guys are covering the sidewalk that nobody cares about, anyway. We don’t have one and don’t need one.”
Sherri Hanaway said she would lose 15 feet of her driveway with the addition of parking and sidewalks along Evergreen Avenue.
“People are not parking on this road that don’t live there, but now you’re taking my driveway away,” she said. “I have a problem with the design of the road… You’re taking my driveway away, so now I’m going to have to park on the road.”
Beyer said he drove the project area and found it difficult to support with the amount of property being taken up.
Hughes received applause from those in attendance when she spoke against including sidewalk.
“I really don’t think we need a sidewalk out there…,” she said. “I think it’s a safe place to walk.”
Trustee Chris Nielsen said he wasn’t a fan of sidewalks, but favored the project as presented for the “betterment of the village.”
“There’s a lot of growth going on out that way, and it’s not going away,” he said. “We are in change right now, so you get used to that… If we don’t do the right thing for this and for the village as a whole, that’s going to be an eyesore.”
Hughes and Beyer backed an amendment to eliminate sidewalks from the project, but they were the only two to support their motion.
Without sidewalks, Kaster said the roadway would have to be widened to accommodate pedestrians.
“The modern standards say (have) sidewalks,” he said. “They don’t say put the pedestrians on the roadways.”
The reconstruction of Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road is scheduled for this year.
The board decided during deliberations for the 2021 budget to move up the project sooner than previously planned to take advantage of a drop in interest rates and save money in the long run with the rate to borrow money expected to be lower than the rate of inflation for construction.
Kaster said inflationary costs for construction have increased an average of 5-6 percent annually over the last 15 years.
In consideration of property owners facing special assessments sooner than they expected and the interest rate the village will be able to borrow money for the project, the board agreed unanimously to defer assessment payments by three years and change the payment term length to 20 years after the deferment, along with setting the interest rate at 1.65 percent – a half percent above the village’s borrowing rate.
Kaster said a public hearing on the special assessments is scheduled for the board’s April 26 meeting.
He said the property owners’ share of the total project cost of $2,041,427 is $577,518, or 28.3 percent.
The board awarded the Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road roadway reconstruction project to KCG Excavating for $1,078,334, contingent upon attorney review of the contracts.
KCG was the lowest of four bidders.
Board members also awarded the Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road utility reconstruction project to Peters Concrete for $378,413, contingent upon attorney review of the contracts.
Peters was the lowest of six bidders.
To bury public utilities, such as for electrical, cable and telephone service being relocated for properties along Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road, the board awarded a contract to Stiegler Electric for $35,184.
Stiegler was the lowest of three bidders.