After delays, Mendota Heights grants municipal consent for 149 project


Work on Highway 149 will stretch from George Street to Interstate 494 and will include pavement resurfacing. Work will also take place on Highway 13 from Smith to Cherokee Heights boulevards. Courtesy of MnDOT

The Mendota Heights City Council approved municipal consent for a Highway 149 rehabilitation project at its Aug. 1 meeting. A public hearing was tabled at the June 20 meeting and moved to the July 18 meeting to give more time for property owners affected by the work to be notified.

The municipal consent was for right-of-way acquisition for the Minnesota Department of Transportation project. 

 

Scope of the project

Molly Kline, an area engineer for MnDOT, was at the June 20 meeting. She said work is slated for Highway 149 from George Street to Interstate 494, and on Highway 13 from Smith to Cherokee Heights boulevards. The estimated cost is $7.8 million and work is set to begin next year.

“That does include a city trail segment being wrapped into this project,” Kline said.

The scope of the project includes pavement resurfacing, drainage improvements, signal replacement, turn lane construction and improvements to bring pedestrian facilities in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, ash trees will also be removed from MnDOT land.

Kline said there will be lane and sidewalk closures from spring to fall of 2018.

The project requires the purchase of right-of-way from 13 properties in Mendota Heights. 

Council member Ultan Duggan asked Kline if all of the individual property owners had been notified. She said some, but not all had been contacted.

Duggan proposed holding off on granting municipal consent until all owners had been notified. 

The public hearing was opened at the June 20 meeting but extended until a time when all property owners had been notified.

 

A public hearing

The public hearing continued at the July 18 council meeting. 

Amy Nelson Sander said she lives on the corner of highways 149 and 13. She said she was just contacted the day before the public hearing, July 17, by MnDOT and only got some clarification about the project.

She said her one concern is three larger trees on the corner that are “apparently the oldest in Dakota County, that’s what we’ve been told.”

“We’re afraid those are going to be taken down as part of this,” she said.

Eric Sander said one concern of his is drainage of the area. He said he thinks if it were carved back, the new right-of-away area would be exposed to more erosion.

Kline said she would get in touch with the property owners regarding their questions and concerns. 

No other residents spoke.

Public Works Director Ryan Ruzek said in light of the comments, the council did have the option to wait 90 days on granting municipal consent.

Though the council weighed its options — giving municipal consent on condition that MnDOT work out issues with residents proved unworkable — council member Liz Petschel recommended tabling the item until the first meeting of August.

 

Green light

At the Aug. 1 meeting, Ruzek said the couple that had spoken previously had been taken care of.

“They have since had conversations with MnDOT and have emailed the city saying they are no longer concerned with the impacts on their property,” he said. 

Petschel said there had been a traffic committee meeting on July 31 and one issue discussed was the crossing at Somerset Elementary School at Highway 149, and if the state has done everything to make that crossing as safe as possible.

She said Ruzek volunteered to approach MnDOT to see if there is anything else that can be done to make the crossing safer. 

Ruzek said design plans for the crossing are almost complete and there is a chance they will not be presented to council — any agreement on the crossing would be between the school and MnDOT.

“[The state] had met with the school and this was the plan they came up with. If the school is comfortable with it I have no desire to tinker with it,” Petschel said. 

The council voted unanimously to grant municipal consent.

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com


 

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