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Cloquet's 18th Street to get a makeover starting this summer

Last summer Selmser Avenue got a whole new look; this year the city is planning to begin reconstruction of 18th Street from Maplewood Avenue to Doddridge.

Last summer Selmser Avenue got a whole new look; this year the city is planning to begin reconstruction of 18th Street from Maplewood Avenue to Doddridge.

As with Selmser, a big reason for the project is to install a larger storm sewer along the route to address localized flooding issues.

"The total area which drains to this outfall sewer covers approximately 175 acres," Director of Public Works James Prusak wrote in his request to the Cloquet City Council, noting that it is the largest drainage basin in the city of Cloquet.

The impacted neighborhood is largely residential with a mix of light commercial and multi-family properties; however, Cloquet High School sits in the heart of the area. The reconstruction will take place in two phases, with work being completed this summer from Maplewood north to Wilson Avenue - one block beyond Washington Avenue - with the second, shorter phase from Wilson to Doddridge Avenue set for the following summer.

"We wanted to get through the Washington Avenue intersection this summer," explained Assistant City Engineer Caleb Peterson. "That will shorten up the second phase so we don't have to worry as much about getting finished before the high school is back in session."

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At the Tuesday City Council meeting, Councilors set a public hearing on the $1.2 million project for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19. Adjacent property owners should get a letter about the hearing in the mail.

As is the case with street improvement projects, all benefitted properties will be assessed for a portion of the project costs. Although they didn't have final figures for the assessments, Peterson noted that last year's assessment rates for curb and blacktop came to approximately $23.50 per foot of frontage plus properties receiving new sewer and water services paid an additional $2,000. Because the city hasn't gotten bids on the project yet, the rates are obviously subject to change. However, Peterson said the figures were "a reasonable estimate" of potential assessment costs for property owners.  

In addition to installing a 42-inch storm sewer, replacing the water main and completely rebuilding the street, the city also plans to install a 7-foot sidewalk on one side that will eventually run from Maplewood all the way to Doddridge.

The city also anticipates it will continue with cleanup of contaminated soils from a Safety-Kleen facility underground tank leak first discovered in 1985. Since then, according to Prusak's report, further investigation has shown the contamination has migrated offsite into 18th Street and continued south, or down gradient, down the road. A 2006 agreement between the city, Safety-Kleen and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency means that Safety-Kleen will pay for the cost of any additional required cleanup work.

In other matters Tuesday, City Council members approved the replacement purchase of a used tracked excavator for $63,200 and a used rubber-tire backhoe for $57,200. City Administrator Brian Fritsinger noted that the city could get excellent prices on both items because of the downturn in the construction industry during the recession.

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