The Two Harbors five-year Capital Improvement Plan is getting an update.

At a Two Harbors City Council work session prior to the regular council meeting on Monday, Feb. 10, Joe Rhein of city-hired engineering firm Bolton and Menk presented the updated CIP draft for 2021-25.

The plan was developed partially from feedback from the past few years' Streets and Alleys Improvement Projects processes, a thorough examination of the budgets, consultation of the recently developed pavement evaluation rating and by members of the public works committee and city council.

The first CIP covered the years 2017-21, which was revamped in 2018. The city canceled its 2017 project when bids came back too high.

The same thing happened this year when the council chose to scrap the 2020 project for an internal sidewalk repair project due to high bids and high estimated assessments.

"The five-year plan is not a commitment. It’s a snapshot of 'At this point in time, here’s what you’re thinking.' It’s a vision," Rhein said.

Street projects included in plan

The bulk of the plan consists of potential Streets and Alleys Improvement projects.

The first two projects covering the 2021-22 construction seasons align with a project Lake County has planned for Eighth Street. The county plans to redo Eighth Street from Fourth Avenue to Seventh Avenue. The city's projects would accompany the county's along:

  • Sixth Avenue from Seventh to West End
  • Fifth Avenue from Seventh to West End
  • Fourth Avenue from Seventh to West End

"We have to update the utilities where the county is doing the crossroads anyway, so why not take the opportunity to leverage that and rebuild those avenues that abut the county’s project and get those rebuilt at the same time?" Rhein said.

Based on the amount of work included in this project, Rhein said he estimates it would take two construction seasons. The estimated total for these two phases of construction is $4.78 million.

In 2023, the capital improvement plan calls for updates in the Seagog area on 16th Street from Seventh Avenue to the alley north of Ninth Avenue. A slightly more scaled-back project, it's estimated to cost $1.38 million.

The 2024 project returns to an area included in the 2019 feasibility study — Eighth Avenue between Fourth and Sixth Streets. When scoping out projects for 2019, officials discovered that Eighth Avenue would require a water main looping project before construction could proceed on the infrastructure.

The city is waiting to see if it will receive a Water Infrastructure Fund (WIF) grant to complete the water looping project among other water delivery system projects. If the WIF funding comes through and the looping project is completed, the cost is estimated at $2.12 million.

Finally, the 2025 section of the CIP focuses on alleys. Rhein left that portion of the plan open so the council members could determine what direction they wanted to go. They could focus on sections of First to Third Streets in the areas north of Fourth Avenue or Third Avenues. They could also devote resources to the the alleys north of Fourth and Sixth Avenues between Seventh and Fourth Streets. These options are estimated to cost around $1.2 million.

Councilors nervous about managing expectations

Rhein told the councilors the draft of the capital improvements plan is like a weather forecast in that "the first two years are pretty clear, but after that it gets a little more difficult to determine."

Councilors Cathy Erickson and Miles Woodruff were uneasy with setting expectations for the next five years.

"Because of what we went through last summer, I feel more nervous," Erickson said. "My apprehension is that these are some big ticket numbers and I get nervous about the community reactions."

The total estimated five-year street project costs are estimated at $9.5 million.

After extended conversations about the city's updated process and reminders that the plan serves as a guideline, Erickson and Woodruff agreed to let the administration move forward to keep the plan development on the timeline.

The city plans to hold a public open house in late February or early March to present the plans to the public.