The Locust Road Improvement Project is on the home stretch.

That was the report from City Engineer Jeremy Bril at Monday’s meeting of the Decorah City Council.

Bril stated the Pine Crest intersection will open at some point this week. “All the pavement is complete with the exception of a few driveway approaches and sidewalks,” he said. Yet to be completed are pavement markings, sign installation, backfilling, street lights and utilities, as well as getting into the joint utility trench.

Weather depending, Bril added, “I’m hopeful that in the next couple weeks, we’ll all get to drive on Locust Road.”Street improvementsAt a prior work session, the street department discussed plans for fiscal year 2022. Conversation included the timeline of repairs to East Main Street and Pole Line Road. Both are considered top priorities and have a place planning.Regarding East Main, Councilperson Ross Hadley said, “What floated to the top was East Main for me, mostly because of input from Todd (Ihde, Decorah water superintendent). It’s been on the laundry list for years and years.” Challenges to potential repair, added Bril, revolve around infrastructure and age.

“The water line there’s a four-inch main,” Bril noted. “It’s undersized and what we’d call ‘original,’ so 100-plus years old. Since we are planning street repair as part of the project, it is an opportune time to replace the water underneath.” Bril also suggested improvements to the sanitary sewer system on the street, recommending work can be done without entire replacement. Bril estimated the water cost at $90,000 per block, with similar expenditures for sewer. He gauged one block of street paving at $300,000. A brief dialogue by Councilperson Kirk Johnson centered on a 2008 discussion of facilitating a bike boulevard on East Main should other improvements occur. Johnson recalled that the street had been examined due to its route from downtown to the Trout Run Trail access via the fairgrounds.

“Has any consideration been given to the notion?” asked Johnson. “It’s time to look at that – and dismiss it – or adopt it. I think it might be worthy of at least some consideration whether the neighborhood would accept that kind of change or not.” Kirk cited “traffic calming” and the possible removal of stop signs along the street as benefits. No further exchange occurred on the matter.

Bril noted that Pole Line repairs may be split over two seasons, particularly between the bridge and highway. “That would be a type of an overly improvement,” he said.

Asked for recommendation, Bril advised tackling East Main first. Council approved moving forward with the East Main project on a 4-3 vote.

Other council matters

In other matters, Kim Powell of the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa, reported HSNEI is in its 7th year of operation as of December. Powell noted that typically, the organization assists approximately 400 animals annually; this year saw 500. At one point this year, HSNEI had 160 cats and kittens either in the shelter or in foster care. Fundraising has been limited due to the pandemic, as well as volunteer options. City Administrator Chad Bird stated the results of the recently conducted Iowa Downtown Resource Assessment are now available for consideration.

Bird asked the Council to consider the sharing of documentation with other board and agencies, as well as a future conversation concerning document findings.

New hires include: Cole Milligan as street commissioner; and Tom Rhodes, assistant county engineer.