By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

County board members approved a plan to alter two intersections on CSAH 6 within the City of La Crescent during their April 12 session.

Earlier, two Houston County commissioners had met with the City of La Crescent and La Crescent-Hokah School District to review proposed “Safe Routes to School” crosswalk improvements at the two intersections along County 6 (Elm Street). The crossings are near La Crescent Elementary School, where the city and district have already completed a survey and demonstration project at the sites. The intersections are at Elm Street and South 4th and South 6th - and the survey produced mixed feedback from residents, county engineer Brian Pogodzinski reported. 

“They did some painting on the roadways, they put bollards up out there, put out the survey and got feedback from two hundred and some individuals...” the engineer said. “Some people liked the result... some people hated it. So we had a Safe Routes to School meeting about a month ago, and talked about these intersections. And both the school and the city wanted to see something get done.” 

An updated solution “does not impact traffic as much, but still creates some of the same benefits for the crosswalk,” Pogodzinski told commissioners. The current proposal includes push-button activated flashing beacons for the crosswalks, and limited curb extensions at the intersections where it “only impacts parking lanes, not the bike lane or through lanes,” he noted. The bump outs (aka curb extensions) are intended to keep traffic from passing on the right. They would be smaller than originally marked during the demonstration project, only extend into the parking lane on the west side of the county highway and not include any bump outs on the east side, Pogodzinski added. 

The City of La Crescent is offering to pay for 100% of the design cost and half of the construction cost, while the county was being asked to pay for the other half of the construction costs. Safe Routes to School grants and other funding sources are currently being pursued for the project, so the exact amount that Houston County is being asked to pay is unknown. Commissioners approved up to $50,000 in county funds for the project, which may take a year or two to complete, Pogodzinski stated. That’s because some items (such as button-activated beacons) might be in short supply.

Other news

A bridge replacement bid was also approved. That work site is located on CSAH 12 a half-mile west of Prairie Ridge Road. A large metal culvert will be replaced by a 12 foot by 8 foot box culvert. There were four bidders, and the lowest-priced offer came from Minnowa Construction at $231,749. However, the engineer’s estimate was almost $60,000 lower, at $172,204. 

“We’ve been told that getting the box culvert for construction in fall of 2022 might be difficult,” Pogodzinski said. So the replacement might be installed in 2023. 

In addition, commissioners approved a  $20,000 American Rescue Plan Act distribution to be shared by the Neighbors in Action and Touching Moments Animal Assisted Activities programs, both of which are members of the La Crescent Area Healthy Community Partnership.

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