The Carver County Commissioners met on January 21 for a short meeting to discuss a few items. One of these items, the Mental Health Advisory Committee update was postponed for a later date. The other big item was the concurrence in award to S.M. Hentges and Sons for the highway 101 project taking place in Chanhassen.
This year, highway 101 will be seeing some construction from Pioneer Trail to Flying Cloud Drive. The project was award a grant of $9 million, with the state providing an additional $8 million through other programs. The project went out to construction companies to bid, with the bids ranging from $16 million to over $23 million, according to the agenda for the meeting.
There were two choices the county could approve of for construction companies: S.M. Hentges and Sons, and Engineers Estimate. S.M. Hentges was decided upon for it was the cheaper option while still providing what Chanhassen needed for the project. The commissioners had to approve of the project itself.
Lyndon Robjent, Public Works director, presented on the project and what it would entail to the commissioners so they could be more informed for the motion.
“This is a big project, long time coming,” said Robjent. “As you know, commissioners, we’ve been working with the City of Chanhassen for this project as well as MNDOT.”
The highway 101 reconstruction will take place over about a mile, and there’s quite a bit to be done. Currently, it’s a two-lane highway with no sidewalks with erosion, limited right of way, and isn’t prepared for growing traffic, according to Jon Horn, consulting project manager from Kimley Horn and Associates. There are also safety concerns in regards to the highway.
Highway 101 has been seeing small improvements since 2015, pieces at a time. With the partnership between the county, Chanhassen, and MNDOT being a huge success for each stage, this particular portion has been prepared and planned, and all it needs is a team to get it done. For this mile stretch, there will be new storm water ponds added, erosion will be addressed in the problem areas, and two new lanes will be added to widen the corridor in response to more traffic. Trails will also be put in on both sides of the road, as well as bridges and a tunnel to allow pedestrians to safely travel along the corridor.
One unique aspect that’s coming with this project will be the median along the corridor. In the median, there’s a planned automated anti-icing system. Sensors would be installed in the pavement, according to Horn, that would determine when the pavement needs to be sprayed with an anti-icing agent, which means trucks would not be needed and there would be a wait time. This, if put in, would cost about $28000 per year, but there are a few benefits, including there needing to be less chemicals put down. The initial install of this piece would cost roughly $1.4 million dollars, according to the estimate.
One of the biggest benefits of this project, according to Robjent, is the reduction in crash cost. The corridor is a little steep, and the predicted property damage is about $3 million per year, and with traffic growing that number would go up. With this system installed, costs would be reduced by about 40 percent. However, because the full install would add a significant cost to the project, Robjent and his staff recommended that the commissioners approve of the “guts” being installed for the time being before adding everything else since the road is going to be torn up anyway. And with the road being widened, that would also reduce crashes so there’s a chance that the project wouldn’t be worth its full install at this time.
“We can evaluate how the road is doing over the next couple winters, and depending on what we find we can install the rest of the system at that time,” said Robjent. “If this system was around $600,000 instead of $1.4, I’d say it would be more worth it.”
With all this in mind, the commissioners made a motion to approve the recommendation for the contract with S.M. Hentges with the addition of building in the conduit anti-icing system for a possible full future install. The motion was approved unanimously by the commissioners.