Albert Lea summer construction plans part of long-term trails bonding

Albert Lea Weighs in on summer construction projects

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(ABC 6 News) – On Monday members of the Albert Lea City Council approved $150,000 in funding for the first phase of the paved multi-use trail on the former Union Pacific railroad line.

The funding, combined with another $150,000 from Freeborn County, will cover engineer costs to help build a 13-mile link from the land between the lakes and Hartland. The project seeks to create opportunities for year-round outdoor activity as well as attracting tourists to the area.

But the trails-to-rails project will only be part of the city’s growth.

This summer, approximately $5.3 million will be spent on for four projects across 275 properties, street and sidewalk repairs starting in May.

At Monday night’s city council meeting multiple public comments on the four major road and sidewalk reconstruction projects. And while many said these roads and their water mains are overdue for repair some people said the disruptions will be costly to their housing or business.

“All those will have, there will be some disruptions in traffic, especially the Sibley and Marshall one,” said Steven Jahnke, city engineer of Albert Lea. “There are several businesses there and we’ll need to coordinate that work on how to keep them open and get people to them.”

Parking lots, spots and complete roads will have to be replaced. A common disruption that comes with summers in Minnesota, but has some concerned on how much it’ll hurt their businesses. Such as Michael St. Romain, who owns Eddie’s bar on Marshal Street.

“From 9 o’clock until close on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” said St. Romain during Monday night’s meeting. “We consume every parking space on that entire street and every private property parking space we can get into. So if you change them from diagonal to parallel, it would be a catastrophe for us, actually.”

According to council member Larry Baker, these summer time renovations will be building blocks for better pedestrian access across the city. Including a chance to build pathways for a future trail the city and county will pave along side the former United Pacific rail line.

“The connectivity in Albert Lea will speak right to the Blue Zone as far as getting people around and out walking,” said Baker. “But not only that, it’s going to make connectivity to the trail much easier and much safe. So it’s kind of a two folded.”

While the trail along the old United Pacific railway is still in the early developments, the future prospects of what it’ll bring to albert lea leaves people like councilmember baker very excited.

“It’ll draw more people, obviously. People still come here for the different events we have here in the communities for the different events we have here in the summer,” Baker said.

The Albert Lea City Council encourages residents and business owners to continue to meet with their council members and city officials over the next two months as the city finalizes plans of approval for the upcoming summer construction.