A proposed service road from 215th Avenue to 221st Avenue along the west side of Highway 65 in East Bethel has been called off for now.
The East Bethel City Council March 5 voted 4-1 to put the project on hold, with Councilmember Heidi Moegerle opposed.
The city had originally been notified that the Minnesota Department of Transportation would award the city a maximum grant of $702,000 for the project.
However, City Administrator Jack Davis said there had been some disagreement on the grant amount between MnDOT’s central and regional offices.
In a Feb. 27 memo to the city, MnDOT estimated the city’s eligible costs at only $574,000, because the proposed work for Johnson Street south of 219th Avenue is not eligible for use of Trunk Highway Funds. MnDOT told the city it could receive the remaining $128,000 in grant funds by obtaining access control along Highway 65, which would restrict access to the highway by adjacent parcels, and then deeding that access control to MnDOT.
City Engineer Craig Jochum said the city essentially has three options: it could notify MnDOT that the city will not be proceeding with the project; the city could obtain the access control to maximize the grant amount and proceed with the project as planned; or East Bethel could accept the lesser grant amount and construct the service road from 219th Avenue to 221st Avenue only.
Mayor DeRoche and Councilmembers Tom Ronning and Ron Koller voiced their opposition to moving forward with the project at this time, since there is currently no interest in developing the area.
“The sarcasm in me calls it the ‘road to nowhere’, but I’m not the first one to have said that,” Ronning said.
Moegerle said the service road would open up the land for development.
“Municipal state aid money is not always there … if you don’t use it you lose it. I think we should go forward,” she said.
The engineering for the project that has already occurred can be used in the future if the city decides to move forward with building the road.