By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — About a dozen Fourth Avenue residents attended a meeting April 8 to find out more information about the proposed $350,000 street improvement project.
Lisa Fleming, an engineer with Ayres Associates, conducted the informational meeting.
The streets in that area of town are a “system,” and Third Avenue, Fourth Avenue and Roosevelt Street have already been surveyed, Fleming said.
Colfax will most likely not be able to do a street project like this every year, but perhaps every three years as finances allow, she said.
Fourth Avenue will be going from no curb and gutter to having curb and gutter. The design of the street project will include storm drains and catch basins. The curb and gutter, drains and basins are all intended to manage stormwater run-off in that area of town.
Eventually Colfax will have to rebuild the storm sewer system draining to the Red Cedar River. The new storm drains on Fourth Avenue will have larger pipes than the existing storm sewer. The area will have periodic flooding because the water will be going from a larger storm pipe to a smaller storm pipe, Fleming explained.
“It will flood in the road for a while but it will drain away … it’s not a perfect system, but it is working toward a better system in the future,” she said.
The Fourth Avenue project will go from Park Street to Dunn Street and will include new water mains, new sewer mains, new storm sewer pipes, curb and gutter and new blacktop.
The project has not yet been scheduled or even advertised for bids at this point, Fleming said.
Scott Gunnufson, village president, said village officials are currently checking on financing options and that the village board would be making decisions soon on how to obtain the money and whether the project is going to be completed this year.
Construction would take eight to ten weeks, Fleming said.
Municipalities typically like to bid out street projects early in the year before contractors have other work lined up.
If the project was bid out this summer, construction could start in July or August and would be finished by fall, Fleming said.
Mark Halpin, village trustee, wondered about Fourth Avenue residents being able to get into their driveways during the construction period.
The only time residents might have to park on another street would be the three or four days required for the concrete curb to set, Fleming said, noting that when the driveways are inaccessible, residents will most likely still be able to park on the street.
Several trees in the right-of-way will have to be taken down for the Fourth Avenue project, Fleming said.
Some people do not want trees taken out of the right-of-way, but doing it now would be cheaper than it would be two years from now when the tree starts dying because the roots have been cut, she said.
Lon Pecore, whose residence is on the corner of Park Street and Fourth Avenue, wondered why it would be more expensive to take the trees out several years later.
Right now, the contractors will have heavy equipment on site and can use bulldozers to “pop out” the tree roots, Fleming said.
In a couple of years, there will not be any heavy equipment on site, and removing the trees will become more expensive and more difficult, she said.
“If we hurt the tree (by cutting the roots when digging up the street) and it is going to die anyway, it is better to take it out now,” Fleming said.
Several Fourth Avenue residents wondered if their taxes would be going up because of the street project.
Gunnufson said there would be no special assessments on property taxes for the Fourth Avenue project.
The village board considered the option of sidewalks but decided not to do sidewalks for this particular project, he said.
The Fourth Avenue project does not have an option for no curb and gutter. Since the project is intending to control stormwater, the curb and gutter will channel the stormwater to a spot where it can drain away, Gunnufson said.
The village board has approved a five-year street improvement plan, he noted.
“We probably can’t do one every year, but (having the engineering done) sets us up for any grants that might be available,” Gunnufson said.
Colfax will be receiving a $12,000 Local Road Improvement Program grant for Fourth Avenue, he said.
“We encourage communities to be one year ahead on design (for street projects) … it’s a process to get the streets in order,” Fleming said.
The Colfax Village Board is expected to consider the question of financing for the Fourth Avenue project in the near future.