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Broadway work to begin May 12

Third Avenue and Broadway intersection. (File photo/Echo Press)

A timetable has been firmed up for the Broadway reconstruction work, the biggest street project to roll out in Alexandria since 3rd Avenue was torn up and replaced 10 years ago.

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The project will start May 12, according to City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven, who provided the city council with the update at its last meeting.

The city doesn’t have a lot of control over the timing because it’s a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) project, Schoonhooven explained.

The first phase, reconstructing Broadway from 4th to 6th Avenue, will run from May 12 to July 4.

The second phase, work on the intersection of Broadway and 6th Avenue, will take place during the entire month of July.

The third and final phase, from 7th to 8th Avenue on Broadway, will take place from August 1 to mid-October, Schoonhoven said.

MnDOT is working on putting together a reimbursement agreement for the project, which is expected to be presented at the council’s February 24 or March 10 meeting.

At that time, the council is expected to set the bidding date for the project, sometime between March 21 and April 4.

The bid package will be complex, Schoonhoven said, and will likely contain 250 or more bid items. The agreement will show a breakdown of the costs, including the amount the state will pay for each item.

The state is picking up most of the cost of the project but certain design elements or “amenities” such as benches, light poles, pavers and landscaping will be the city’s responsibility. Some of the amenities will be bid as alternative options that the city can accept or reject at a later date.

More information about the Broadway reconstruction project can be found on the website,

The site recently contained a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to help the public and businesses better understand the project. Here are the questions and answers:

When will the project start? The project is scheduled to start in mid May 2014.

Is this plan completed? The plan is currently approximately 95 percent complete.

Where will the detours go? There will be truck route detours set up around the city on County Roads 45 and 46. There will be local street detours set up on Fillmore and Hawthorne Streets.

Is everything underneath being replaced? All of the underground utilities, including the watermain, sanitary sewer and storm sewer are being replaced.

Where is the bike lane? There is no dedicated bike lane as part of this project. The west sidewalk is designed to allow more room for bicycles and pedestrians as well as streetscape amenities such as trees and benches.

Will there be a designated bike map/route? When the project is complete, a bike route will be designated along Fillmore and Hawthorne Street between 3rd and 10th Avenue. This route will be shown on area bike maps.

How wide will the lanes be? Currently there are five lanes of traffic; two northbound lanes, two southbound lanes and a center turning lane. The new design also has five lanes in this same configuration. The parking lanes are currently seven feet wide and will be seven feet wide with this project. The outside lane next to the parking lane will be 12 feet wide, which is the width of a standard MnDOT traffic lane. The inside lane will be 11 feet wide, which is the width of the existing lanes in 3rd Avenue between Broadway and Hawthorne Streets as well as the existing outside lanes on Broadway, south of 8th Avenue. The center turn lane will be 12 feet wide, again the width of a standard MnDOT traffic lane.

How wide will the west sidewalk be? The west sidewalk will be 18 feet wide.

Why concrete instead of asphalt? Because this route is a MnDOT trunk highway, MnDOT decides which type of pavement to use. MnDOT did a pavement analysis and determined that it was cost effective over the long term to pave this section concrete.

Who is financing this? Am I going to be assessed? The project is financed by a combination of MnDOT, Alexandria Light and Power Utilities, Alexandria Lakes Area Sanitary District and city funds. There will be no assessment to any of the properties.

What will happen with awnings with poles? There are three locations where the existing awnings are anchored to the sidewalk with poles. These poles are incompatible with the proposed design and will have to be removed. The city is working with these property owners to remove these awnings at no cost to the owners.

How will snow removal work? Currently in all of Alexandria, a property owner is responsible for clearing the snow in front of their property. The city council is considering modifying this policy for the downtown area but no decision has been made yet.

What needs to happen to my awning? All existing awnings that are not anchored to the sidewalk with support poles can stay.

Who decides where the trees will go? The tree locations have been established to be compatible with on-street parking stalls, awnings, light poles, benches, planters and other street items.

How long will my water be down? Each property’s water service will be replaced and reconnected to the new water main in the street. The time to switch over is generally less than two hours. In all cases, the properties will be informed of the shut down in advance so that they can prepare for the interruption in service.

Will we be affected if there is a heavy rain day during the construction? The contractor will make provisions to allow for heavy rain during construction. The existing storm sewer will not be removed all at one time and will be replaced as quickly as possible. That said, the existing system will be entirely removed and replaced as part of the project and there may be times when the system is functioning at less than full capacity. We don’t anticipate any flooding problems from this work.

The alleys – will they stay going one-way? The direction of travel in the alleys will not change as part of this project.

Will the bikers be allowed to ride their bikes downtown? Currently bikes must be walked on the sidewalk. The city council has discussed this issue and has not made any decision that would change this requirement at this time.

How do semi-trucks make a right turn? The intersections are designed such that the critical points of a truck’s turning radius have been considered in the layout. Basically, if a truck can make the corner today, it will be able to make the corner in the new design.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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