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Newport road construction plans move forward

With the official start of summer just two weeks away, motorists are already seeing orange caution cones and construction crews tending to pavement as road improvement season gets underway in south Washington County.

In preparation for a multi-year, multi-million dollar road construction plan, the city of Newport recently approved plans for the next two years and authorized bidding for the 2013 improvements. The total cost of the two-year project estimated at $3.7 million.

This year, $887,233 in improvements include milling, overlay, reconstruction and curbing will take place.

Last month, the Newport City Council unanimously approved the addition of 18th Street to the improvement project list after a community public hearing garnered no opposition. City Engineer Jim Stremel said the plans are to widen the road to a maximum of 28 feet. Similar to the already approved Ford Road project, the widening of 18th Street will also better accommodate current and future traffic flows.

The cost associated with the project was included in the amended feasibility report the council discussed at the beginning of May.

Pipes televised

As part of the road improvement project, the city will televise roughly 18,500 feet of mainline pipe and 235 service lateral lines. The televising portion will flush out and clean the pipes, which could include some root removal. Stremel said the televising portion, which will cost roughly $58,000, is necessary because of inflow and infiltration, also called I and I.

"A lot of the sewers in Newport are stuck in the rock trenches, which act like a French drain," Stremel said. "I and I can get into the sewer system."

I and I are terms to describe how groundwater and stormwater infiltrate dedicated wastewater or sanitary sewer systems.

"I and I costs the city money," Stremel added. "We have a surcharge system that exceeded the amount the (Metropolitan) Council allows. And the last surcharge was over $100,000 and it was passed onto the resident through taxes and other improvement costs."

In an effort to help curb costs assessed to Newport residents, the city is considering paying half of the televising fees or up to $100. Another option that might be available to residents is opting out by televising their own pipes and providing a DVD showing the pipes are clean.

Stremel said the range of assessment values the city is considering will be determined as the city continues to go through the process. Residents in the affected areas will receive an assessment letter prior to televising.

Other projects

Slated for improvement this year is a $40,000 Ford Road project which will widen the road from 22 feet to 28 feet to accommodate on-street parking and Larry Lane will see a new cul-de-sac. Seven roads will undergo milling, overlay and curbing, and include Barry Drive, Ellen Court, Terrace Road, Mark Court, Eighth Avenue, 21st Street and 10th Avenue.