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Aesthetics of Highway 10 project examined

People have been hearing for the three or so years where all the roads are going with the new Highway 10 realignment, but what about the aesthetics of the project?

A committee has been meeting with city officials and Minnesota Department of Transportation officials to make sure that once the roads are put in, the trees aren't forgotten.

Mayor Larry Buboltz said the group wanted to meet and make sure they aren't "missing any opportunities."

MnDOT has already committed to more than $400,000 in vegetation for the finished project. But there is still a large portion -- about the same amount -- the city has to fund.

The major cost -- ballast. Ballast is a landscape rock that will be placed between the new railroad and Highway 10. With the amount of space between the two and slope of the hill in some areas, it would be impossible for the city to keep up shrubs and other vegetation on that land. Not to mention, the railroad will only allow either the ballast or dirt to be placed there. No one wanted the look of dirt coming into Detroit Lakes.

"You don't want it to look like the backdoor to the community," said MnDOT Project Manager Tom Lundberg.

The ballast areas along Highway 10 have been broken into three sections, and will cost the city an estimated $325,000.

Buboltz said the city doesn't have $320,000-plus to allocate for this project, and suggested the group pick places along the way that would be most visible to lay the ballast.

The three sections of ballast to be laid are from East Shore Drive to North Shore Drive, North Shore Drive to Jackson Avenue, and from Jackson Avenue to Washington Avenue.

Buboltz suggested maybe the group should look at placing the rock from East Shore Drive to Kris Street instead.

The group also looked at different options for funding the ballast. The city wouldn't have to pay the full cost of the ballast until it could be laid, which is likely in 2008.

A couple of the other aesthetics the group will decide upon are decorative streetlights and sidewalk stamping.

Ornamental streetlights will be placed along McKinley Avenue, Homes Street and Frazee Street. The group decided the ornamental lights, which can already been seen at the end Lake Avenue, would be the right look for a quaint and inviting Detroit Lakes.

City Administrator Rich Grabow said with the help of the Public Utilities Department and possible Municipal State Aid funds, the city could take care of the lighting with no problem.

As for the sidewalk stamping, which would be a small symbol in the corner of the sidewalks, City Engineer Gary Nansen warned the group to take a look at other cities with stamping. He said the quality may not be what the city is looking for.

The decisions for the stamping and ballast need to be made by next month, MnDOT representatives said. The Detroit Lakes City Council will have to approve the committee's decisions as well.