Hornsby numbers show cost savings

Columbus pays $36K less than planned for work on intersection shift


Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

The Columbus City Council has authorized a final payment to Dresel Contracting, Inc., of Chisago City, for work completed in moving the southern Hornsby Street access to Highway 97 further east from Interstate 35.

In full, the city has paid $921,050 to the firm for its work, which is down from the original agreement for $957,665 partly because some fill-in sand did not meet initial specifications, according to City Engineer Larry Bohrer (though the Minnesota Department of Transportation advised that the sand met standards, and the city retained it at a discount). Also related to this road realignment that cut through some wetland, the city paid less than the estimate for excavating muck because there was not as much to remove as expected.

Columbus bonded for this project that totaled $1.2 million after costs were added for engineering, soil testing and land acquisition. Those obligations were offset, however, by a grant of $594,000 from MnDOT for which the city applied one year and was denied, then received the next year.

The street’s access to Hwy. 97 is now more than twice as far away from the exit ramp for northbound I-35, with the completion of this project meant to ease left turns toward the freeway and enhance safety for traffic from Hornsby Street. Bohrer said the span from the exit ramp to Hornsby is now 800 feet, up from the original 300 feet.

As drivers head north on 35E and 35W and merge back onto the interstate south of Hwy. 97, some Columbus council members wonder if those drivers know where they are, if those commuters are familiar with the city.

Later in the council’s meeting Feb. 13, after the vote for work on Hornsby Street, Councilmember Jeff Duraine said that he gets tired of hearing some Twin Cities media refer to the 35E-35W junction as the “Forest Lake split” (the area is fully within Columbus borders).

Duraine reported to his colleagues that he has made some headway with KSTP meteorologist Dave Dahl. When Duraine petitioned Dahl with a request for the name “Columbus” to be added to weather maps, Dahl responded with a positive email, Duraine said, and Columbus may be showing up on forecast screens sometime in March.

Commission Vacancy

Though council members were split on whether there was a need, they agreed to extend a period for accepting Planning Commission applications through Friday, March 8, or four weeks past an earlier deadline by which city staff had received two completed applications.

The Planning Commission meets twice monthly, 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays, and advises the City Council on zoning and development issues. The open seat has a term through December 2015, and it is open to any resident or to a non-resident with ownership in a Columbus business.