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By LeAnn R. Ralph
TOWN OF NEW HAVEN — In spite of one board member’s misgivings that town residents would object because “it’s the town chair’s road,” the New Haven Town Board has approved applying for a Local Road Improvement – Supplemental grant (LRIP-S) for 190th Street.
The grant would cover up to 90 percent of the cost of rebuilding the road, and the town board can specify the percentage up to which they would be willing to accept the grant, said Russ Kiviniemi, Director of Civil Engineering at Cedar Corporation out of Menomonie, during a special meeting of the New Haven Town Board November 4.
The New Haven Town Board approved moving forward with the grant application at a special meeting on Saturday, November 6.
Marv Prestrud, town chair, formerly the owner of Prestrud Dairy on 190th Street, has said that now “all of his real estate has been put into a trust.”
The Town of New Haven has 47 miles of road, and “this is the time money is available,” he said.
Becky Segebrecht, town clerk, said the November 6 meeting was the fourth meeting the town board had held about the LRIP-S grant application.
Cedar Corporation will write the grant application for $2,500, and if the grant is awarded, the engineering fees and cost of administering the grant will be included in the total amount for the grant application so that those fees will be covered by the grant, Kiviniemi said at the November 4 meeting.
The LRIP-S grant was formerly known as the Multimodal Program Supplement, and Cedar Corporation’s strategy is to write the grant application for $1 million for a mile so that the actual bid for the road work is certain to come in under that amount, he said.
Cedar Corporation goes “conservative on the high side” for the grant application so that no grant money “is left on the table,” he said.
The applications that score the best for the LRIP-S grant, which is administered through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, are those that address safety issues on the road, need for the road, the PASER rating (Pavement Surface Evaluation & Rating), connectivity to county or state highways, and economic development or tourism, Kiviniemi said.
Widening the road, improving and widening the shoulder and putting down more pavement all goes toward improving the safety of the road, he said.
During the last grant cycle, for all of the grant applications that were written by Cedar Corporation and that were awarded, the bids came in under budget and the cost of the project came in under budget, Kiviniemi said.
The first LRIP-S grants (known then as the Multimodal Program Supplement) were issued two years ago with a total grant allocation of $75 million.
The original grant allocation was intended for town roads, but cities and villages expressed a need for road funding as well, so cities and villages also were allowed to apply for the original grant, although the majority of the money was allocated toward town roads.
During the first go-around, WisDOT received so many applications that only a fraction of those applications could be funded.
According to information from WisDOT, all together, applications were received for $1.4 billion in projects although only $75 million was available. Nearly 1,600 applications were reviewed, and 152 projects were awarded grants.
For 2022-2023, $100 million has been allocated for the grant applications.
The grant applications are very competitive on conditions of the road and the ability of the road project to improve safety, such as widening a narrow road, Kiviniemi said at the November 4 meeting.
The Town of New Haven would have five years to complete the road project and would have several years to budget for the town’s share, he said.
If the grant covers 90 percent of a $1 million road project, the Town of New Haven’s share would be $100,000.
If the township is awarded the grant, New Haven would be paid the grant money after the project is completed and Cedar Corporation has certified that the project is complete, Kiviniemi said.
The Town of New Haven would have to borrow the money to pay for the road project, but as soon as the project is certified as completed, the town would receive the reimbursement, he said.
For an application written for $1 million to cover a mile, the project “will definitely come in lower than that,” Kiviniemi said.
The New Haven Town Board should select the worst road with a low PASER rating that has connectivity, presents safety issues and has an element of economic development with existing businesses or has a park for the tourism element, Kiviniemi said.
The PASER rating considers the condition of the asphalt, and the scale ranges from 10 (excellent condition) to 1 (failed condition).
Segebrecht asked if the road had to connect directly, within the township, to a county or state highway or whether the road could continue into another township where it connected with a county or state highway.
Yes, the road can connect to a county or state highway in another township because residents in the Town of New Haven would still be using that road to connect with the county or state highway, Kiviniemi said.
Segebrecht pointed out that 190th Street continues into the adjoining Town of Vance Creek in Barron County.
There are so many projects that need funding that the bigger projects, such as a $5 million road project, are probably not going to get funded. The state would like to spread the money around, Kiviniemi noted.
There is a larger amount of money set aside for towns, and the towns are not competing with the cities and villages, he said.
The cost for the grant application is $2,500, and even if the Town of New Haven is awarded a grant, the town board could still back out and not go ahead with the project, Kiviniemi said.
Cedar Corporation will not actually design the project until an agreement has been signed for the project, he said, adding that the engineering and construction is a separate proposal from the grant application.
Cedar Corporation does the entire grant application with supporting documents, the grant narrative and photographs, Kiviniemi said.
If the town board decides to proceed with a grant application, the Town of New Haven would need a two-year capital improvement plan that includes whichever road has been selected for the grant application, he said.
If the grant is awarded, when construction starts, the contractor will submit an invoice to Cedar Corporation each month. Cedar Corporation will sign off on the invoice, and then it will be presented at the next town board meeting for payment, Kiviniemi said.
Cedar Corporation will take care of all of the public notices, will advertise for bids, and will handle the pay requests and the grant administration, including grant reporting, he said.
Segebrecht noted that the work Cedar Corporation would do for the grant would make her job much easier.
In the experience of Cedar Corporation with the grant applications, it is less than 30 days for the state to pay reimbursement on approved projects, Kiviniemi said.
The grant applications are due on Friday, November 12, he said.
Deciding which road is a “big decision,” said Jeff Carlsrud, town board member.
Prestrud Dairy is on 190th Street, and the road is in “bad shape” and has heavy truck and equipment traffic going to the farm, he said.
A million dollars would cover fixing 190th so that it can sustain the heavy traffic. It is important for the grant application to select a road with quite a lot of “loading” of traffic, Kiviniemi said.
The Town of New Haven would not want to spend the money to fix the road if it is going to break up in the spring, Carlsrud said.
The road for the grant application does not have to be the road where Prestrud Dairy is located, Prestrud said.
The road where Prestrud Dairy is located seems like it is the only road that would qualify for the grant, Carlsrud said.
Since 190th extends into another jurisdiction, it would score higher on the grant application if it was a multi-jurisdictional project with Vance Creek, Kiviniemi said.
Prestrud said he would call the Vance Creek town chair.
The road is quite bad at the county line and probably scores a 0 on the PASER rating, Segebrecht commented.
Town board members and the town patrolman noted that weight limits are put on 190th in the spring to help preserve what is left of the road.
The road can be designed to handle heavier traffic, and constructing the road for heavier traffic would add 10 percent to 20 percent to the cost of fixing the road, Kiviniemi said.
“Weight limits in the spring are good for scoring (on the grant application),” he said.
The road is sub-standard, so it must be posted in the spring, and that shows the need for improving the road, Kiviniemi said.
Trent Wittmer, town patrolman, said 190th is the road he would recommend to be in the grant application because the PASER rating is at about a 2.
The third town board member, Tom Schoonover, did not attend the November 4 meeting.
Prestrud said he did not want to not make a decision on the grant application without all of the town board members in attendance and scheduled another special meeting on Saturday, November 6.
Town chair’s road
Schoonover attended the Saturday, November 6, meeting.
Before the meeting started, Schoonover demanded to know why the reporter from the Tribune Press Reporter was at the meeting, and when told the reporter was there to cover the meeting, Schoonover declared there was “no news.”
It should be noted that under the state’s Open Meetings Law, anyone can attend a public meeting.
Because 190th Street is the road on which Prestrud Dairy is located, Schoonover said, after the meeting started, that he was concerned about backlash from town residents since 190th is “the town chair’s road.”
“I’m scared of the public fall-out for doing 190th,” he said.
Another road that could have been considered for the grant application was 145th Street.
Kiviniemi said 190th was the Town of New Haven’s “best shot” and that 145th might not even be considered if that was the road in the grant application, Carlsrud said.
“If it makes a difference, I will resign as town chair,” Prestrud said.
Schoonover asked how much Prestrud Dairy would pay toward fixing the road and said he would like to see Prestrud contribute at least $40,000.
Prestrud said he could not make a decision on his own whether Prestrud Dairy would contribute money toward fixing 190th because his real estate had been put into a trust.
“I feel Prestrud Dairy should pay something,” Schoonover said.
Prestrud pointed out that Prestrud Dairy pays property taxes in the Town of New Haven just as any other town resident pays property taxes.
Prestrud said he would consider paying something toward fixing the road, although he noted that in another situation, the town board had been promised $100,000 in private funds for fixing road, but because there was no written agreement, received $25,000.
The road (190th) would have to been built for truck traffic, and Cedar Corporation will engineer the road to handle the weight, Carlsrud said.
Schoonover said he had “taken surveys” and had talked to town residents who were opposed to 190th being fixed.
Prestrud asked who was in opposition, “besides you?”
“I don’t have to tell you,” Schoonover replied, adding that the backlash would be less if Prestrud Dairy pays for part of the road.
Carlsrud said he was in favor of putting 190th in the grant application because Kiviniemi said the road would stand the best chance for scoring high on the grant application.
There is no way of knowing if New Haven will get the grant, and even if the grant is awarded, the town board can turn it down, Carlsrud noted.
“It is a bad road,” he said.
Carlsrud said initially, he was against including 190th in the grant application, but after talking with Kiviniemi and then spending more time thinking about it, putting 190th in the grant application “makes more sense.”
The New Haven Town Board approved a motion to proceed with the LRIP-S grant application for 190th Street for 90 percent funding, with the condition that the town board would not accept less than 80 percent funding, and with the provision that Cedar Corporation complete the grant application and would also complete the engineering if the grant was awarded.
The New Haven Town Board also approved a motion to add 190th Street to the town’s two-year capital improvement plan for 2023.
“I want Prestrud Dairy to pay if it happens,” Schoonover said.
The project may not happen, Prestrud and Carlsrud said.