Residents, city consider how to repair 13th Avenue after water improvements

Joel Stottrup / Union-Eagle This is a view of Thirteenth Avenue, looking west from Third Street last week. The street narrows as it reaches the west end, where the Princeton City Council has discussed for some years the idea of possibly connecting it with Highway 95.

Joel Stottrup / Union-Eagle
This is a view of Thirteenth Avenue, looking west from Third Street last week. The street narrows as it reaches the west end, where the Princeton City Council has discussed for some years the idea of possibly connecting it with Highway 95.

The city of Princeton has made no decision regarding the future of 13th Avenue despite a half-hour discussion on the matter April 10.
The Princeton Public Utilities Commission plans to replace a water main on the street to help deal with water pressure that is too low for firefighting purposes for that area. That section of the city is located a few blocks east of the city cemetery and county fairgrounds.
Installing the new water main will mean tearing up part of 13th Avenue. Questions remain as to whether it would be time to make other improvements such as curb and gutter and a thicker surface, or just a temporary overlay.
In attendance at the work session were about a dozen residents who live along 13th Avenue, which runs between First Street on the south and West Branch Street on the north. While the questions were examined, another subject hung in the background. It was the suggestion made years ago by the Minnesota Department of Transportation of connecting the north end of 13th Avenue with Highway 95 as part of a plan to close off the current connection between the west end of West Branch Street and Highway 95. City Administrator Mark Karnowski, who was in on the council discussion, noted that it was MnDOT, not the city, that raised the idea.
There was strong resistance from residents along 13th to having it connected to Highway 95. Residents there have been objecting to how such a connection would bring more traffic to their neighborhood and how it could mean more costly assessments.
The council members made it clear that no decision was going to be made at the council session as to the exact thickness of an asphalt overlay or what other improvements would be done to the avenue after the new water main is replaced. The city has also suggested the idea of adding sidewalks, and residents objected to that, citing how the city has many sidewalks now that have fallen into disrepair.
Jeff Kleinbaum, a resident along 13th Avenue, spoke in favor of a thicker overlay of asphalt rather than the minimum, citing the benefits of longer wear. He also suggested reclaiming the asphalt surface that is there now and stabilizing the road base before applying an overlay, plus grading everything properly for better drainage.
Mike Nielson, with the city’s consulting engineering firm, WSB & Associates, recommended a 2-inch overlay rather than a 1-inch.
Residents asked about whether the water main replacement was due to something other than a need for improved firefighting capability. Princeton PUC manager Connie Wangen assured them that the water pressure was too low for firefighting.
Residents, including Dale Dunham, also talked about the challenges of parking along 13th Avenue and adding curb and gutter or even sidewalks to it because the avenue narrows, especially between Third Street and West Branch Street. Making certain additions along the edge of a narrow avenue would mean less space in front of the homes, some residents pointed out.
Mayor Paul Whitcomb may have calmed some residents about the street being connected to Highway 95 when he said he isn’t so concerned about getting an outlet to Highway 95 at 13th Avenue.
Kleinbaum said that residents in that area would have sufficient connection to Highway 95 by going to First Street and then west to 21st Avenue once the connection between West Branch Street and Highway 95 is closed.

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