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New look for N. Washington

Workers from Sellin Brothers from Hawley lay water lines under North Washington Avenue Tuesday afternoon. (Brian Basham/Tribune)1 / 2
Colored concrete will help set the tone for the North Washington Avenue project, which is expected to be done before the end of the year. The streetscaping work will include decorative lighting and new trees -- although some residents mourn the loss of established trees further up the block.2 / 2

All the rainy weather of the past few weeks hasn't slowed down the North Washington Avenue project, which is on track to be completed the first week of October, according to County Highway Engineer Brad Wentz.

The project includes tearing up and hauling away the chunks of concrete and old-style pavers used in years past, and replacing it with a new concrete street, curb and gutter.

Washington Avenue is a county state-aid highway -- so the county actually handled the bidding process, with key input from the city. The street is being rebuilt from Main Street to Highway 34.

The city is installing new sewer and water lines as part of the $1.4 million upgrade.

Selline Brothers of Hawley submitted the low bid of $1.25 million and is the main contractor on the project.

Hough, Inc., of Detroit Lakes is one of the subcontractors.

While most of the new street will consist of regular white concrete, intersections will be of colored concrete -- possibly apple red, if the city council decides it likes the color.

(A test strip of apple red concrete has been poured in Peoples Park near the skating rink project, so decision-makers can see how it looks.)

"All boulevards will be filled with stamped, colored concrete, with trees and grass behind the sidewalk, from the furniture store north," Wentz said.

The commercial area will get trees in "tree grates," which are about four feet deep and surrounded by concrete. Trees planted there will have a shallower root system and won't grow as large, Wentz said.

Decorative street lighting will be similar to lighting on the Highway 10 project, with light poles designed to hold flags, and the city may add benches, fixtures and other amenities after construction is finished, Wentz said.

Concrete pouring may start as early as this week on the southern part of the project, but it will be done in several stages so that the Main Avenue intersection can always remain open for business access. Paving work will continue northward from there, with business access always taken into consideration, Wentz said.

The city will pay for fire hydrants, stormwater, sidewalks, lighting and street enhancements.

The county agreed to pay about $100,000 more than projected for the decorative concrete option when bids came in about $200,000 higher than the engineer's estimate.

"We want to be good neighbors with the city," said County Commissioner Harry Salminen. The county board agreed to split the higher cost with the city, after leaving it up to the city council to decide which construction option to pursue.

The higher project cost is not expected to affect property owners on Washington Avenue, who will be assessed a total of about $290,000 to help pay for street, sewer and water improvements, and for service laterals to businesses.

For a 50-foot lot, the assessment is estimated at $10,000, and a 100-foot lot is estimated at $15,600. The special assessments can be spread over 20 years at 6 percent interest.

"All the construction will be completed this year," City Engineer Jon Pratt said in an earlier story.