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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The planning stage of the northern part of the county Highway B project near Menomonie that includes the Union Pacific Railroad tracks is still a work in progress.
Currently the highway department is dealing with three conduits that have to be bored under the railroad tracks, said Dustin Binder, highway commissioner, at the Dunn County Highway Committee’s September 13 meeting.
Two of the conduits will be for traffic signals and one will be for street lighting, he said.
The traffic signals are required by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad, so there will be no cost to Dunn County, Binder said.
For the street lighting, however, there are more “hoops to jump through.” The railroad wants a third party observation and survey during the installation, and the cost is by the hour. For an eight-hour day, the cost is $1,700 per day, he said, adding that he had no idea how long it would take and that other contractors Binder had talked to had said it cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Boring under the railroad should not take more than a day, though, so the cost might be $3,000, he said.
Right now, the highway department is working with WisDOT and a design engineer to see which is more cost effective, to run a conduit under the railroad, or to have a separate power source for the street lights on the other side of the tracks, Binder said.
There is one street light now at Packer Driver, and the project is designed to have four street lights, he said.
One highway department committee member asked if the separate power source could be solar.
Solar might work as a back-up, Binder said.
Having a separate power source on the north side of the tracks would have an additional design cost, he said.
Could the street lights and the traffic lights go through the same conduit? asked Gary Bjork, county board supervisor from Colfax and a member of the highway committee.
The conduits have to be separate, Binder said.
The north phase of the Highway B project will be advertised for bids the second week of October, and the bid advertisements will run for three weeks, as is required by the state’s Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP), Binder said.
The south portion of the Highway B project, from Interstate-94 south to Highway 12/29, will be advertised for bids beginning November 12, he said.
The cost of the project will be more solid when the bids come in as opposed to working with estimated project costs, Binder said.
Will the cost be 80 percent state and 20 percent for Dunn County? Bjork asked.
The south portion of the Highway B project is 80/20. For the northern portion of the project, Dunn County will receive $1 million when the project is complete, Binder said.
The northern portion of the project is estimated at $4 million, he said.
Does the City of Menomonie have an investment in the Highway B project? Bjork asked.
The City of Menomonie has no investment in the Highway B project, Binder said.
The city spent a significant amount of money when Highway B went to four lanes. Dunn County is responsible for maintaining that portion of road, he said.
Binder said he plans to work with Nick Lange, Dunn County corporation counsel, and the Menomonie city attorney to come up with an agreement for street lighting about who pays for what.
Menomonie maintains the street light at Kwik Trip, and Binder said he wants to continue with Menomonie maintaining the street lights, but a written agreement is needed rather than a verbal agreement.
Bjork asked if Dunn County will have to pay the railroad for boring under the tracks.
The county has already paid for a utility permit that was approved for $1,500, Binder said.
When the Colfax fire station was built, the fire district had to pay “big bucks” for going under the railroad tracks, Bjork said.
The Colfax fire station needed water, and the fire district probably had to purchase an easement, Binder said.
The railroad tracks running past the Colfax fire station belong to Canadian National Railroad.
Hwy. B to BB
The paving project north from Packer Drive on Highway B to Highway BB is finished, Binder said.
Monarch Paving did the work, and Monarch does not allow people to work when the temperature is over 93 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.
After the project started, a heat wave blanketed the area, so there were a few days when Monarch could not do any paving, Binder said.
Farner Asphalt has marked the centerline, and the shouldering has been completed by Dunn County crews, he said, noting that Farner was expected to return a few days after the highway committee meeting to finish painting lines on Highway B.
Binder said he hopes that Highway B to Highway BB “lasts for my career.”
The asphalt mix that was used was for heavier traffic, and the surface layer of oil is rated for 34 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, as opposed to oil rated for 28 below zero, he said.
“You wouldn’t think it would make that much difference, but it does,” Binder said, referring to the temperature rating.
The “Cadillac of materials” was put on Highway B, and it should last for quite a few years, he said.