Rum River Drive could be reconstructed

Most of Rum River Drive in the city of Princeton is scheduled for reconstruction next year under the county’s five-year road plan.
However, a design team project in the city could delay that.
A design team will be coming to Princeton Sept. 25-28 to work with Princeton on how it might improve the city’s landscape and streetscape and the community’s architectural characteristics.
Mille Lacs County Public Works Director Bruce Cochran mentioned the Rum River Drive reconstruction project during the County Board of Commissioners’ May 22 monthly workshop as part of a county road construction discussion. During the discussion, Cochran talked about Rum River Drive and how, if money were not an issue, he would favor reconstructing Mille Lacs County’s portion of Rum River Drive this year.
But even though this stretch of roadway is in the county’s five-year road plan for next year, if the city should want to do something extra along the street due to the design team project, then the Rum River Drive reconstruction could be delayed, Cochran said at the workshop. The reason for such a delay, according to Cochran, would be to incorporate any design team project changes during reconstruction of Rum River Drive.
Cochran said the condition of Rum River Drive in Princeton makes the “city look bad.” He said the patches and seams on Rum River Drive are bad.
Mille Lacs County Commissioner Tim Wilhelm said that the seams on Rum River Drive are in the path of the school buses that he manages for the Princeton School District. He also asked Cochran if the county couldn’t raise the tops of the manholes closer to the surface of Rum River Drive during reconstruction.
Rum River Drive was originally Highway 169 and carried traffic through the city of Princeton and was the main route for the north-south travel in this corridor until the Highway 169 bypass opened in 1980.
About a decade later the road was reconstructed for about 10 blocks.
Cochran said that the sidewalk “bump outs” that were put in along parts of Rum River Drive in the city have made the snowplowing there more difficult. Those bump outs will also add to the work of reconstructing Rum River Drive, he said.
Board Chair Phil Peterson suggested that if the city wants extra features put in along Rum River Drive from what is there now, the city should pay for those extras.
Mille Lacs County Public Works Assistant Director Jay Munson said the county is committed to reconstructing Rum River Drive as far north as the Highway 169 overpass.
Commissioner Dave Oslin suggested that when the County Board meets in January and February to review its five-year road plan, it can fine-tune what would be done on Rum River Drive

Road priorities
Also planned for the Princeton area this summer is a Safe Routes to School project in which two sidewalks will be constructed in the city with county involvement. One sidewalk will run north-south along Fifth Avenue North from Rum River Drive on the south end to the street running past the south side of North Elementary. An east-west sidewalk will also be constructed along 12th Street from Rum River Drive and on east to Seventh Avenue that goes past North Elementary.
Two major area road projects will be the reconstruction of 4.15 miles of County State Aid Highway 4 from a half mile south of CSAH 13 on south to CSAH 12 E, and an overlay of 7.25 miles of CSAH 5 from Highway 23 on the north in Milaca, on south to CSAH 13 W.
The County Board workshop discussion on road projects was actually a wider discussion on what should be priority in the county’s five-year road plans.
Wilhelm right away stated that he was opposed to the county redoing the stretch of CSAH 2 that runs past the courthouse in Milaca before doing other road projects out in the county. The county’s plan for now is to rebuild CSAH 2 from Highway 23 to Central Avenue in Milaca in 2017 at a cost of about $2.18 million.
Munson said he thought the two roads in the worst condition in Mille Lacs County are CSAH 32 in Milaca and CSAH 22 that runs east of Onamia. CSAH 22 is not in the county’s road plan, but CSAH 32 is for 2018.
CSAH 32 runs north-south along the east side of the Milaca school complex and then heads to Central Avenue along the north side of the Teal’s grocery store.
The board reached a consensus to leave the CSAH 32 project in the five-year plan.
Munson noted that five-year road plans are a “moving thing,” meaning officials can change them as the years progress.