County Road 9 (College View Road)
At the March 19th County Board Meeting I voted to keep County Road 9, also known as College View Road, as a 4-lane road.
County Road 9 reconstruction from Circle drive to 19thStreet SE intersection has been planned for a few years and the plan has been worked on for a long time. (19thStreet is the intersection that has the RCTC Heintz Center one corner, Olmsted Community Hospital on another corner, the Federal Medical Prison and Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the other corners.) Both the city and county agreed a long time ago that that this road would be reconstructed as a 4-lane road. The plan included a transfer of the western part of the road (from Silver Creek Road to 19thStreet) to the city once the project was complete.
The plans were made, the engineering renderings were completed, and preliminary plans were approved. Public hearings were held and there were no objections to the road being reconstructed with 4-lanes. Amenities were added to improve safety and to allow for a better traffic flow. The city wanted buffered bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks and those were also added. About 3 ½ weeks ago the city council proposes to change the western portion of the reconstruction to 2-lanes. The county informed the city council that re-planning, holding public hearing on the new plan and completing the necessary engineering could not be done by the deadline set by the state to get the project ready for the Federal $2.3 million dollar aid. In spite of this the city council continued to insist on a 2-lane reconstruction on the western part of the Road; the 2-lanes, by design, would deliberately cause traffic congestion. I did not agree with the city council on their reasoning for a 2-lane road. The city council eventually left the county with three choices:
- Do not reconstruct the road instead install a bituminous overlay
- Reconstruct the road with 2-lanes on the western portion
- Reconstruct the road with four lanes but the city would only contribute $150,000 instead of their $900,000 share of the project.
I voted to reconstruct County 9 as a 4-lane with the safety features planned. I also supported telling the city council to keep their $150,000; the County will pay for the entire project and keep possession of the road all the way to 19thStreet SE.
I believe a 4-lane road was the right decision and best served the traffic needs of the county and city for the following reasons:
- The project was jointly planned by the county and city from the beginning.
- This project is about $5 million dollars. By meeting the Federal deadlines, about $2.3 million dollars in federal aid will reduce the cost to the taxpayers
- The 19thStreet intersection is critical for emergency vehicles entering Olmsted Medical Hospital
- Trash haulers need a flow of traffic that will not impede their travel to and from the Waste to Energy facility.
- The 4-lane design best serves RCTC, Olmsted Medical Hospital, the Federal Medical Facility and the trash haulers.
- The 4-lane design was supported by the townships on the East side of the County.
- The long-term planning and the planning process was honored.
- Needed maintenance on the steam lines under the road will be completed.
- The County will retain ownership of the road.
- It was the right thing to do to preserve reasonable traffic flow into the future.
T-21 (Tobacco 21)
T-21 is a public health effort to promote raising to age 21 when a person can purchase tobacco products.
The Board heard a report from the Public Health Department about the growing numbers of teenagers using tobacco products. After years of decline the number of teen tobacco users have started to grow. This growth is largely due to Vaping. The Board was told that most people who become addicted to nicotine do so during their teen years and studies have shown that addiction rates decline when teens cannot access tobacco. The following information was also provided:
- Tobacco related illnesses cost $554/person in Olmsted County (about $85 million)
- 21 Communities in Minnesota have set the age when a person can buy tobacco to 21
- 70% of current smokers support raising the age to buy tobacco to 21