City Council weighs possible reconstruction of Wisconsin StreetThe city of Hudson hopes to receive federal funds to offset 80 percent of the estimated $683,200 cost of reconstructing Wisconsin Street from Vine to 11th streets.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The city of Hudson hopes to receive federal funds to offset 80 percent of the estimated $683,200 cost of reconstructing Wisconsin Street from Vine to 11th streets.
The City Council authorized applying to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the Urban Surface Transportation Program grant on a 5-1 vote on June 7.
The state administers the federal-aid program for roads in urban areas.
The deadline for submitting applications for the next funding cycle is the end of June. WisDOT is expected to announce the successful applicants in October.
If the Wisconsin Street project is funded, the reconstruction would take place in the summer of 2011.
Other questions about the proposed project remain, too.
The city’s consulting engineer, Charles Schwartz of Bonestroo, reviewed for the council what promises to be the thorniest issue.
He described two options for assessing the share of the project costs that would be borne by property owners.
The method that earned the endorsement of Mayor Dean Knudson is distributing the cost based on the estimated trips generated by the adjacent residential developments, as well as Hudson High School, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Christian Community Homes and Willow River Cemetery.
Knudson warned that the city has a policy on special assessments adopted in 1982 that requires 100 percent of road reconstruction costs, including new curb and gutter, to be assessed to the benefiting properties.
The policy dictates that 50 percent of the cost of replacing asphalt pathways like the one running along Wisconsin Street be assessed to adjoining properties.
Knudson said property owners would have to pay special assessments even if the city gets an STP grant.
The grant money would be used to cover expenses that would otherwise be paid for with general property tax dollars, he said.
Knudson said the special assessment that St. Patrick’s Church would have had to pay the last time the project was considered in 1997 was around $64,000.
“Doing this project is going to require political courage,” the mayor said.
Alderperson Randy Morrissette II said the special assessments wouldn’t be as high if the city gets the grant.
The other option for allocating the reconstruction costs is to base them on the length of street frontage per property. For residential developments, the assessment would be divided equally among the homes in the development.
The residential developments that Bonestroo recommends be assessed for the street improvements are High Point, Knolls I (Hunter Hill Condominiums), Summer Pines, Stonepine, Knolls II and Iverson Circle.
Council President Lori Bernard was the alderperson who voted against applying for the 80 percent grant funding.
It appeared that her objection was to the percentage of federal funding requested.
Schwartz reported that in the competition for grant money, the lower the percentage of project funding that a municipality requests, the better its chances of getting a grant.
Schwartz said the Hudson area is one of 10 in the state eligible for Urban Surface Transportation Program funding.
He said the current balance available to the Hudson area is $330,000. St. Croix County, the village North Hudson and surrounding townships are also entitled to apply for grants.
Knudson said that while the other local governments have all applied for and received grants in the past, the city hasn’t taken advantage of the program.
The state sometimes awards grants larger than an area’s or municipality’s entitlement balance, both Knudson and Schwartz said.
Bernard said she favored applying for a smaller grant.
But Knudson supported Alderperson Alan Burchill’s motion to request 80 percent funding.
“I say, go ahead, apply for the whole shooting match,” the mayor said.
Schwartz presented a six-page report with accompanying maps and drawings outlining the need and proposed improvements for the roughly half-mile stretch of Wisconsin Street.
The segment between Vine and 11th streets was originally a rural road built from numerous applications of seal-coat material and asphalt patches, the report says.
“The section is not structurally sound and its condition creates problems for maintenance personnel. If the street section is not replaced in a timely manner, continued deterioration at an accelerated rate can be expected,” Schwartz wrote.
He said the deteriorated condition of the street necessitates frequent repairs.
There is no curb and gutter along the stretch of Wisconsin from Vine to 11th streets. Curb and gutter would be added to bring the street up to city standards.
The project would also involve adding storm sewer pipe between 11th and 13th streets and storm water catch basins at various locations throughout the project area.
Schwartz said no repair or replacement of sanitary sewer or water mains is anticipated.
The existing asphalt pavement and gravel base would be removed, along with poor soils (to an “acceptable” depth).
The new asphalt surface would be 3.5 inches thick and 28 feet wide, from curb face to curb face.
Schwartz said the street would be narrower than the typical city street, and not wide enough to allow for on-street parking.
Parking isn’t permitted along Wisconsin between Vine and 11th as it is.
Schwartz reported that residents of the Hunter Hill Condominiums have asked for on-street parking.
He said Wisconsin Street could be widened there to provide parking for 20 to 25 vehicles. The estimated $15,000 it would cost to add the parking wasn’t included in the project total. The expense would be assessed to the condominium owners.
The existing bicycle and pedestrian pathway connected to the street on the east and south sides of Wisconsin Street would be replace with a new eight-foot wide, two-inch thick path set four feet back from the curb.
Room for roundabout
Schwartz said there is enough street right of way to build a roundabout at the intersection of Wisconsin and Vine streets and the entrance to Hudson High School.
He didn’t include the estimated $300,000 cost of a roundabout in the project total, however.
Schwartz said an estimated $616,600 of the project cost would be for street improvements (including curb and gutter). Storm sewer improvements would cost an estimated $66,600.