County won't pay for mini roundabout at North Shore Drive

mini roundabout.png
An example of a mini roundabout provided by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The Becker County Board has balked at paying any extra costs for a mini roundabout at the intersection of Washington Avenue and North Shore Drive, and held off Tuesday, May 19, on approving a cooperative construction agreement with Detroit Lakes until the issue is resolved.

Mini roundabouts at Willow Street and North Shore Drive are part of the proposed $4.16 million South Washington Avenue project planned for this summer.

About $2.5 million will come from Becker County and $1.7 million from the city, according to the preliminary engineering report prepared by Apex Engineering Group.

The county’s delay in signing the joint agreement will not affect the construction schedule, unless the city also refuses to pay the excess costs and no agreement can be reached, which is considered unlikely, said County Highway Engineer Jim Olson.

The city’s bid opening for the project is set for Thursday, May 28. The county will review the bid and make a decision on the joint agreement on June 2. The contract is scheduled to be awarded by the city on June 9, he said.


Construction is expected to start in mid July and finish by the end of September.

The Willow Street mini roundabout is not an issue, but commissioners Larry Knutson and John Okeson said last week that the County Board made it clear last month that higher county costs for a North Shore Drive roundabout could be a deal-breaker for the county.

The county would rather keep the existing street alignment than pay more for a mini roundabout at the North Shore Drive intersection.

Knutson and Okeson, in particular, were upset with a proposed county-city agreement presented Tuesday that had the county paying two-thirds of the cost of a North Shore Drive mini roundabout with colored concrete.

It’s not clear how much more, if any, it will cost to install a mini roundabout rather than just improve the existing street alignment, but commissioners want that information before signing off on the joint agreement with the city.

Last month, Olson estimated that the mini roundabouts would add $45,000 to $50,000 to the cost of the project. But the one-lane mini roundabout would require less pavement, and the higher pavement costs of keeping the existing street alignment might balance that out, he said.

“We’re still paying two-thirds of the cost of the intersection either way," Olson said. “I think it’s very close to cost neutral.”

“Get back to us with the two estimates and see how they compare,” Okeson said at the meeting.


In a phone interview, Olson said that City Engineer Jon Pratt is working on cost estimates for the project, both with and without the mini roundabout at North Shore Drive.

The proposed cost-sharing was based on two of the three legs of that roundabout connecting to Washington Avenue, which is a county state-aid highway, and the third leg connecting to North Shore Drive, a city street, Olson said.

The cost of the Willow Street mini roundabout will be split 50-50, since the four legs are divided equally between the city and county.

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