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Bemidji Avenue reconstruction plans move ahead

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Bemidji City Council held a public hearing on Monday on the Bemidji Avenue/Highway 197 reconstruction project.

One resident, John Carlson, asked for clarification on assessment charges for those who live on corner lots of Bemidji Avenue and nearby streets that underwent reconstruction already.

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"It appears we're paying for water and sewer twice," Carlson said.

Mayor Richard Lehmann said residents on corner lots will only be charged once for each utility.

City Engineer Craig Gray referenced Carlson's situation and said his property is scheduled to be assessed for water main improvements only and earlier had been assessed for sewer.

The council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for the preparation of plans and authorizing the advertisement of bids for the project.

Bemidji Avenue is planned to be reconstructed from Third Street to 23rd Street and the city will update and replace sewer and water in those areas.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will handle the reconstruction of the roadway.

The city's share of costs of the project is estimated to be more than $1.6 million, figuring on $700,000 in sanitary sewer costs, $640,000 in water main costs and $285,000 for traffic signals. Funding will come from assessments, utilities and city funds.

Assessments are proposed to be $800 each for sanitary sewer or water main lines and $1,070 each for sanitary sewer or water service lines. The maximum assessment to each property owner will be $3,740.

The City Council will hold a public hearing dedicated to assessment charges in the fall of 2008.

Reconstruction is planned to begin as soon as the load limits are lifted from the streets, probably in mid-May, Gray said. Work will continue until November. Construction is planned to occur phases, and the first phase, from Second Street to Fifth Street, is expected to be done by the end of June in time for Fourth of July events at the waterfront.

Two signal lights are to be replaced and the others will be updated, Gray said.

Councilors on Monday asked for more information about the traffic signals. Ron Johnson wanted to know if they would include timers for pedestrians crossing the road.

Gray said the new traffic signals at Third and Fifth streets will have the countdown timers included. The other traffic signals, which will be updated, will also include the timers if they are capable of supporting the added technology.

Councilor Onen Markeson asked if the new traffic lights would be LED lights.

"Absolutely, yes," Gray said, adding that such lights have a "significant electrical savings" over standard light fixtures.

Gray reported that MnDOT is working to secure traffic control agreements and expects to advertise for bids in four to six weeks.

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