The last couple of construction seasons have been pretty eventful, as road work goes. Two years ago, Highway 3 was closed for a few weeks so a roundabout could be constructed, and last year, a new bridge connected that roundabout to a new east-west route through the center of Farmington.
This year holds no large-scale, traffic-pattern-changing projects, but there still several construction projects coming up. After all, what are the summer months in Minnesota known for? Road construction.
There are a few projects on the books in Farmington this season. On Tuesday, Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman told us a little about them.
So, seasonal road construction projects. What's coming up this year?
Walnut Street will be the big project. We'll do our annual seal coating and crack sealing project.
What part of the city is that in?
All over. There's some just about everywhere ... the neighborhoods we're doing it in already know because we've gone through a public hearing and they've received notices about it.
So, anything else?
We'll do our annual sidewalk replacement project, where we take a look at the sidewalks in town and any concerns that are raised by residents. We have a little bit of money that we set aside each year to try to repair sidewalks that have cracked or heaved or are in a state of disrepair.
We'll be finishing up the Dushane Parkway project, putting on the last lift of asphalt and striping the road, finishing the trail out front of McDonalds. It kind of wraps around back to Spruce Street. We'll be finishing the trunk utility project over here on Fourth and Fifth, that ties in to the Walnut Street project, and we're still on track to -- this will probably be another one people are interested in -- we're still on track right now. The city and the county are cost sharing on a project to extend the trail along Pilot Knob from 200th Street down to CSAH 50. That will tie into that trail that goes along the north side from here to Lakeville. That's about it.
When do you expect these projects to start?
Sometime this year. The Walnut Street will probably start sometime in April. That's the one we're having a preconstruction meeting on Thursday. We'll probably know a lot more then. The ones that we're finishing up with the asphalt, I would guess it will be sometime in May or early June. Sealcoat project typically happens between the Fourth of July and the fair. And the Pilot Knob trail project will probably start sometime later in the summer. August, maybe. The sidewalk project we just kind of get to as we can.
I would like one along Highway 3 so I don't get run over. That's my two-cents.
It would be nice to get something out there to separate pedestrians and vehicles but I think it needs to be a part of a larger, overall plan to do some access control along there.
What about potholes? Do we have any of those and how are those dealt with?
We have areas that deterioriate over the wintertime. We typically have to ways of dealing with them. One is a truck-mounted thatching machine that kind of blows the aggregate into the pothole. It's called blow patching. The other would be your standard go and get pothole mix from the plant and shovel it in and pack it down.
This year, I know the residents up in Akin Park Estates are concerned, I've heard from several of them this spring already. The roads up there are starting to develop potholes in several areas. We will get that included in our Capital Improvement Plan but it won't be for this year so we'll do our best to keep patching them until we can figure out the appropriate steps to take by doing some testing and getting a project or two lined up in that area. Just about every road up in that area is showing some deterioration.
What's the purpose of sealcoating?
Sealcoating preserves the integrity of the surface of the road and prolongs the life of the pavement. Its very similar, if you will, to a house that you have to paint. You paint it to protect the wood, what's underneath. It's basically a protective coating, because if you just leave a road without seal coat on it, the oil gets affected by the chemicals we use in the wintertime, sunlight, rain, and it starts to develop cracks on the surface. When it does that, it allows moisture to get down in the cracks which helps deteriorate the road.... Sealcoating is pretty much shooting straight oil on it, which kind of allows the seal coat to take the damage that's inflicted by the sunlight and all those other damaging conditions.
Where does funding for all these different projects come from?
It kind of depends on the project. Like the Walnut Street project is going to be financed mainly through bonds and assessments to the benefiting properties. There are some contributions for the trunk facilities that come from our trunk sanitary stormwater fund. If you look at a project like that trail on Pilot Knob Road, that's a cooperative project between the city and the county. The county's paying 55 percent, the city's paying 45 percent. The sidewalk replacement project is budgeted for each year in the road and bridge fund. The sealcoating, just like it is every year, 50 percent of it is assessed to the benefiting properties and 50 percent of it is covered by other funds.