Rice County officials packed into the Mobile Command Center, a bus owned by Faribault Police and the Sheriff’s Office, Tuesday morning.
The group embarked on a two-hour road trip around Rice County to see the Rice County Highway Department’s construction projects and discuss future road-construction plans.
The county’s 10-year road plan had to be revised, after the Minnesota Department of Transportation told the county to anticipate a smaller budget than expected next year. While not everything is set in stone, Highway Engineer Dennis Luebbe already has drafted a revised plan.
The first major leg of the trip was over to Cannon City, where chauffeur/Sheriff Jesse Thomas traversed the snow-covered Cagger Trail. As Luebbe discussed his hope to pave the gravel road, he mentioned buying the right-of-way from landowners would likely be the most difficult part of the process.
Next, the group headed north on Cannon City Boulevard, where Luebbe discussed how the road could be made safer with a shoulder and turn lanes. As the bus rattled its way down the road, Luebbe said the road is “showing its age.”
The road, which is narrow because of the regulations at the time of construction, was pushed back six to eight years in the new plan, which he worries will have a significant increase on the cost, due to inflation.
He said it costs about $2 million per mile of road nowadays, but he’d like to do it before the residential growth continues north.
“As the city grows, there’s going to be more people that go up (Cannon City Boulevard) and go north,” he said. “That’s why it gets added into our plan, as an extension of the city system. It’ll be nice to pave a gravel road while we can.”
The tour then headed headed over to the Lonsdale area. Luebbe pointed out the plans for a roundabout connecting Lonsdale Boulevard West, Hazelwood Avenue and County Road 59, which is just off of I-35 exit to Lonsdale.
The roundabout, which will be constructed in the next year, will likely cause problems for the Flying J truck stop, which is already heavily backed up into the road at busy times, said Commissioner Jeff Docken. Luebbe said he’s reached out to truck stop owners a few times with no response.
After discussing the plans for the roundabout, the group went south down Bagley Avenue, east on Millersburg Boulevard and south on Base Line Road until they reached Wolf Creek. Luebbe pointed out the construction of a new bridge, which is nearing completion and will be open by the end of the month.
After the group made a pit stop for some updates about a wetlands-conservation project, which will be featured in a future edition of the Daily News, they headed back to Faribault for one final stop. After entering northern Faribault on Lyndale Avenue and turning on Seventh Street NW, they discussed the possibility of sidewalks being added.
Luebbe said the city of Faribault reached out about putting some sidewalks in to connect the residential area near King Mill Park to the main roads. He said this is still in the early process, but would serve the city well.