Paved-road advocates in Columbus may get wish

Work would not start until 2014 at earliest


Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

Road construction season has begun in parts of Minnesota, and Columbus City Council members heard last week that some residents wish it would reach their neighborhoods.

Individuals from Bender, Tulane, Vassar and Xingu streets and 177th and 178th avenues all have told city staff since the last road season that they want their gravel roads to be blacktopped.

“I’ve had four different neighborhoods approach me over the last six months,” City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko told the council May 8.

Past paving projects in the city have happened after some residents took successful initiative to have neighbors sign a petition. City officials called for a neighborhood meeting, and the city engineer would share estimates with any land owners that could be assessed. Pavers would roll if at least 60 percent then gave their approval.

With the number of requests now on the table, staff will not be asking the select few residents to put out petitions, but rather the city is sending out surveys to neighbors in each of those areas.

Participants may respond through mail or email, although Mursko says many residents in these cases have dropped off their surveys at City Hall. Neighborhood feedback will direct staff in planning meetings with those residents. Officials will want to see enough early interest to set up at least a circle of chairs.

“You don’t want two people coming to a neighborhood meeting,” Mursko said. “That’s not cost-effective.”

History also says that anyone willing to meet with neighbors on the subject of road work will be open to paving at least until dollars are discussed.

“Nobody wants to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ until they know the cost,” Mursko said.

Some of these neighborhoods could be called to City Hall for a meeting this summer or fall, but the eager neighbors should prepare to battle at least one more winter before a change. Mursko confirmed after the meeting May 8 that the bid season for 2013 really has ended.