Details for future maintenance responsibilities still to be ironed out
Design work is nearing completion for a pedestrian overpass planned for construction at the intersection of 140th Street and Cedar Avenue in Apple Valley.
City and Dakota County officials still have to iron out who will be responsible for future maintenance of the bridge.
“In terms of future maintenance costs, the county believes the city should assume maintenance obligations related to the pedestrian bridge once constructed,” the city said in a Jan. 14 report to the City Council. “The city is communicating to the county that we believe such maintenance obligations should be the responsibility of the county.”
The overpass will cross Cedar Avenue on the north side of its intersection with 140th Street. The project aims to improve pedestrian safety in the area. The county has been looking at a pedestrian overpass there since Cedar Avenue was reconstructed in 2013.
Apple Valley High School is less than a mile to the west of 140th Street, and its attendance area includes portions east of Cedar Avenue.
Joe Morneau, Dakota County senior transit specialist, told the newspaper in March 2020 the project also addresses a secondary concern with traffic volume at the intersection.
According to City Council documents, the project is currently estimated to cost $4 million, with the city’s share expected to be $600,000.
The issue of who would be on the hook for future maintenance costs of the bridge after it’s constructed came up during an update of the project at the Jan. 14 City Council work session. Mayor Clint Hooppaw asked what the upfront cost would be to maintain it each year.
Hooppaw said that’s information the council should know before making a decision about a joint agreement with the county that would commit funding from the city.
“If we were crossing McAndrews (Road) I might feel differently about that, but we’ve got a long stretch here that’s coming into play ... 12 lanes of traffic as part of the expansion of Cedar Avenue,” he said. “So for us (it) doesn’t quite feel right for us to carry the whole burden of maintenance costs.”
Morneau, who was present at the work session, said the county sees the pedestrian overpass as part of the trail system and per its policies it believes the city would need to responsible for snow removal, as well as repairs for any structural issues that come up. The county would be responsible for repaving it.
City Administrator Tom Lawell said the city contends that the bridge is crossing a major road that’s part of the regional transit system and it’s a principal arterial roadway that handles traffic beyond the city of Apple Valley. Lawell noted that the expansion of Cedar Avenue was done by the county to accommodate vehicle traffic.
“So that change made by the county is what’s contributing to the need for this particular bridge,” he said adding that the county should come up with a different strategy for future maintenance because “this is certainly not just a city bridge over a city street. This is way more than that.”
Public Works Director Matt Saam told the council the maintenance will have to be worked out with the county before staff bring an agreement forward to the council for its consideration.
Morneau said about 90 percent of the design work has been completed. Work related to the bridge structure and the trails has been finished. Future work involves details related to lighting, aesthetics and minor design adjustments.
Members of the public were able to provide input through multiple open houses and through the county’s website.
With the current designs, the bridge would have ramps on each side with a maximum incline of 4.5%. The trail width can accommodate multiple users at a time. The trail on the ground has a 14-foot width while the trail on the bridge is 12 feet wide. The curves of the ramp going up to the bridge are gentle to allow easy use for bicyclists.
There will also be screening fences on parts of it to restrict views of private properties below it on the east side, Morneau said.
Based on public input, officials are looking at how stairs can be added, Morneau said.
Morneau said the project’s future steps include finalizing design details and construction plans and getting right of way acquisition from one property owner on the west side of the bridge.
Patty Dexter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.