After almost a year of planning and public hearings, the Mill Avenue reconstruction project has received its blessing from the city of Brainerd. The Brainerd City Council Monday, in a 6-1 vote, approved Crow Wing County's plan for the reconstruction project, which will extend from the Mississippi River bridge to Washington Street. Council member Bob Olson voted against.
Jeff Ledin with the engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson gave a presentation of the project, which is expected to begin in 2008.
The road will be three lanes, with two 12-foot-wide driving lanes and a 13-foot-wide center turning lane.
The project will be done in two phases. The first will run from the Mississippi River bridge to M Street and traffic will be detoured along Beaver Dam Road and Riverside Drive. The second will be from M Street to Washington Street and traffic will be detoured along local streets in northeast Brainerd.
Several residents let their concerns be known.
Paul Anderson, owner of Highway 25 Liquor, questioned why the first phase of the project would go from the Mississippi River bridge to M Street.
In doing that, he said commercial traffic would be cut off from the Mill Avenue businesses. Anderson suggested the first phase be shorter, allowing for detours to the businesses.
"When you shut down traffic over that bridge that's it, there's nothing for commercial traffic whatsoever," Anderson said.
Mill Avenue resident Roger Preisinger said his three concerns were not having his driveway removed, not damaging trees and wondering where mailboxes will be located.
Ledin said Preisinger's driveway will not be removed, mail boxes will be clustered at the end of blocks during construction but returned to residences after the project is completed and efforts will be made to save trees.
Echoing Preisinger's concerns was fellow Mill Avenue resident Janine Letendre.
In voting against the project, Olson said there were too many questions from residents that had not been answered.
Council member Anne Nelson Fisher said there's been several opportunities for public input.
While she was sensitive of their concerns, she said the city should follow recommendations from the traffic engineers for one of the busiest thoroughfares in Brainerd.
Council member Bonnie Cumberland said she's talked to several residents affected by the project and while they didn't get everything they wanted, some concessions were made at their requests.
"I think this is probably the best deal we can get," Cumberland said.
Council member Kevin Goedker said he voted in favor of the project because, with so many different entities involved in the planning, he believed they were acting in the best interests of the city.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.