by Dennis Dalman
An extremely detailed and thorough plan for changes to Pinecone Road leading to and from the new future Sartell High School was presented to the Sartell City Council at its June 12 meeting by Jon Halter, city engineer.
There will be a public hearing about the plan at the July 10 council meeting, including estimates for assessing costs to property owners in that area.
The Pinecone Road Feasibility Study, at the city’s request, was drawn up by Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., of which Halter is an employee.
The Pinecone reconstruction plan is crucial to the construction of a new high school for efficient traffic flow and safety for motorists, students and pedestrians. The study was done with safety factors uppermost in mind. The new high school, authorized by voters last year, will be built near Oak Ridge Elementary School.
There will be changes made to Pinecone Road from 15th Street N., near where Celebration Lutheran Church is located, all the way north to 35th Street N.
From 15th to 27th Street there will be a three-lane bituminous road with a continuous middle left-turn lane for both directions. There will be a widened 10-foot trail to the east of Pinecone stretching from 15th to 27th.
There will be roundabouts constructed at 27th Street and 35th Street, with a three-way access onto the property of the high school. Buses will enter the school property at 35th Street N.
The speed limit along Pinecone Road will be 40 mph, but there will be reduced speed zones during school-session hours, and vehicles will have to slow down to negotiate the roundabouts. Halter noted the roundabouts had to be made a bit wider because farmers in that area expressed concerns about maneuvering around them with their larger field equipment.
The road changes would start in June 2018 and be ready for when the new high school opens that coming fall. In the meantime, some right-of-way areas along the current road must be negotiated.
There is a possibility of putting another trail to the west of Pinecone Road, from 27th Street to 35th Street. Such a trail would cost about $110,000, Halter noted.
A couple of acres will be used for ponding purposes.
The total cost of the road project is estimated at $6.1 million, paid for by assessments and possibly half-cent sales-tax revenue, as well as other sources. The City of Sartell’s share of the cost will be about $3.8 million, Halter noted.
The project will also include storm sewer, sanitary sewer, water main and lighting.
Two council members, Pat Lynch and Mike Chisum, said they are not keen on having homeowners along Pinecone be assessed for the project. Lynch said that, after all, the road is being built solely because of the new school, not to benefit the homeowners in that area. But they agreed when the costs are balanced fairly among entities, the assessments might perhaps be justified.
The council voted unanimously, 4-0, to accept the feasibility study, which will be discussed further at the July 10 public hearing. Council member David Peterson was not at the June 12 meeting.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.