FAIRMONT - The city of Fairmont has been busy this summer, with construction taking place throughout town. Center stage is the new water treatment plant. To the north is Winnebago Sports Complex; to the south, Lair Road Bridge reconstruction.
This fall, the work will continue, with a few more projects added to the mix.
Public works director and city engineer Troy Nemmers sat down with the Sentinel to provide an update on the upgrades that will take place yet this year:
HEADS UP — Construction workers move a large piece of pre-cast concrete at the Fairmont water treatment plant in this photo from Fairmont public works director Troy Nemmers’ blog.
Safe Routes to School
Grants available through the Safe Routes to School program are responsible for the new sidewalk and safety improvements around Fairmont Elementary School.
M.R. Paving of New Ulm will start removing pieces of sidewalk next week, in preparation for filling a gap in the existing sidewalk system on South Orient Street.
The other major component of the project involves building a pedestrian median on State Street for the children crossing the busy road on their way to and from school. The yellow lights that continuously flash at the State Street crosswalk in the future will be pedestrian activated, with a button for students to push in order to alert drivers to be on their guard.
No road closures will be necessary while construction is under way. The work should be complete in early November, depending of course on the weather.
"It's almost too dry in some cases," said Nemmers, noting that drought conditions are inhibiting proper aggregate compaction.
It took some time for the federal government to work out the details, but the city recently got the green light to proceed with a $4.4 million project at the municipal airport.
"We'll be re-doing the main runway, taxiway and apron," Nemmers said.
In the past, the city was asked to match 5 percent of Federal Aviation Administration funds. With the country's economic situation, municipalities now are required to contribute 10 percent. The state of Minnesota is assisting by issuing government bonds for the project, which will alleviate some of the financial pressure, reducing Fairmont's cost to about $355,000.
Preliminary work will begin this fall, and the majority of the project will be finished in 2013, with a completion date of Sept. 6.
Looking at the runway, the need for the improvements is clear. Deep cracks in the pavement are beyond repair, and a previous surface treatment is well past its prime, serving more as a hindrance than a help at this point in time. Portions of the material used for the treatment are peeling off, creating hazards for pilots using the airport.
While the airport's main runway is shut down, pilots will be using the taxiway or the crosswind runway.
"The taxiway is wider than most," Nemmers said. "Most aircraft can still use it."
However, there may be some limitations for larger jets, he acknowledged.
Winnebago Sports Complex
The last of the parking lot has been paved, grass is growing in the fields, and by the time this article goes to print, the new concession stand should be fully operational and ready for business when the softball and baseball season starts next spring.
The $1.35 million project began in August 2011. The expanded sports complex now has three softball fields and one baseball diamond, a one-mile walking trail and fencing, as well as storm sewer and curb and gutter. The city is also researching new bleachers, dugout seating and signage.
Previously, the park had two fields, so city workers will be spending considerably more time on maintenance at the site. That said, Nemmers pointed out that the city is no longer maintaining the three Cardinal fields for Fairmont Area Schools.
"We're really just consolidating the maintenance we did on two sites," he said.
The fields will require some work in the spring to prepare them for play.
"We have pretty good grass cover on the main fields because we seeded last fall, so with timely rain in the spring, the fields should be in good shape," Nemmers said.
Water treatment plant
Construction is on schedule and on budget at the $30 million water treatment plant. The city has received about $4 million in grants for the project.
"The whole building should be enclosed by December," Nemmers said. "That's the big target date right now."
The water plant is expected to be operational in July 2013, but not fully complete until July 2014, when the existing treatment plant is demolished and restored to green space for public use.
Lair Road bridge
Construction began in early September, with the removal of about 17 trees and the demolition of a home, to make way for a relocated Lair Road.
When the work is complete in early July 2013, the channel connecting Hall and Budd Lakes will be wider; Lair Road will pass through the southwest corner of Gomsrud Park; all the electrical lines will be moved underground; and a new bridge will meet state safety standards for drivers and pedestrians.
The cost of revamping the bridge, channel, and Lair Road is $2.3 million, with federal grants covering $1.1 million.
Also new for 2013
Other projects planned for 2013 include:
o Reconstruction of Bird's Bridge channel on Woodland Avenue, in order to allow boats to pass between Budd and Sisseton lakes.
o Renovations at Fairmont Aquatic Park. New paint, sand filters and possibly a new roof for the concession stand are slated for spring of 2013.
o Reconstruction of Elm Street from First Street to the railroad tracks.
"Next year we're going to be just as busy," Nemmers said.
For more information and photos about ongoing construction projects, visit the city engineer's blog at fmtmnconstruction.blogspot.com