Isanti looking to future for  stormwater, pavement maintenance

Rick Dassinger (left), of the Knights of Columbus, donated winter coats to the city of Isanti for distribution to children in need. He is pictured with Isanti Police Chief Travis Muyres at the Dec. 17 city council meeting. Knights of Columbus have been providing at least two boxes of coats for the city to distribute for several years. The Isanti Police Department and School Resource Officer assist in identifying families who need the coats.

Isanti City Council approved engineering services for 2020 stormwater system and pavement maintenance at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Both programs were formed in 2015, with a five-year plan for stormwater system maintenance and a 10-year pavement maintenance program, according to City Engineer Jason Cook, of Bolton and Menk.

The stormwater maintenance program was initiated when the city became an MS4 permit holder with the state of Minnesota. An MS4 is a municipal separate storm sewer system, which is a system of conveyance of stormwater runoff that is also owned and operated by a public entity, designed or used collecting or conveying stormwater, not a combined sewer, and not part of a publicly-owned treatment works.

Last year, the city combined three years of the program into one, so it is three-fifths completed, Cook noted. This year, the culverts along Whiskey Road on the west side of town were scheduled for maintenance, but Cook recommended the city hold off on them and move to another area of town at this time.

Most of the culverts along Whiskey Road are one foot to one-and-one-half feet below the ditch bottom due to the ditch filling in, Cook said, adding that he contacted the county to see if they had plans to work in the ditch, since it is a county ditch. The goal was to create a combined project or share in the cost of the project.

Since the county did not have plans to work on the ditch, Cook suggested holding off on that project and move to 2021 year in the maintenance plan in order to allow the county and city time to plan a project for Whiskey Road. He said it would not affect the stormwater improvement plan, since there was not a reason Whiskey Road was slated to be completed before the other area.

Council Member Jimmy Gordon asked about the stormwater maintenance plan and how often maintenance is completed.

Cook explained that before Isanti became an MS4 city, maintenance on its stormwater system had never been completed. During the first evaluation, the city’s stormwater system was found to be in bad shape, with filled-in ponds, clogged ditches and pipes completely filled up.

To keep costs down for the city, a five-year plan was created to bring the system up to par, Cook said, noting a stormwater maintenance fee was also added for city residents. Once the five-year plan is complete, costs to maintain the system will be significantly lower.

As for the street pavement improvement plan, Gordon questioned how the streets were identified for 2020.

The plan is to evaluate and maintain the streets in the northeastern portion of the city in 2020, which is the area around the Art and Science Academy and Flagship Bank.

“That seems like an odd spot to spend all our money,” he said. “There’s never any traffic over there, and I drove it around.”

Council Member Dan Collision noted that street maintenance does not usually have anything to do with traffic, but if the road is cracking. He explained if it is not sealed and water gets in and freezes, it destroys the road.

Cook acknowledged that the road itself is in fairly good condition, explaining it is right on that line to do seal coat. Seal coating a road is just dollars on the yard, versus a mill and overlay – a decimal point higher. He noted that a seal coat will buy the city five to eight years before the street should be looked at again for further maintenance.

Gordon asked who makes the street maintenance plans. 

“We’ve got a 10-year plan – does Bolton and Menk make that plan for us?” he asked. “So they go out and find work to keep them busy for 10 years, is that right?”

Cook explained that Bolton and Menk were hired to evaluate the roads, and city staff from public works evaluated the streets to rate the pavement condition, which helped rank what streets needed maintenance and when during a 10-year plan in order to keep overall costs lower for the city. It is recommended the city reevaluate and update the plan every five years.

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