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County to begin CR-18 improvements in Afton after Fourth of July

It's a nearly 5-mile stretch of road, that according to county public works officials, is in dire need of repair. And it leads into the heart of downtown Afton.

This summer County Road 18 will get much more than a facelift. From Manning Avenue to St. Croix Trail, Washington County public works officials will give one of the few thoroughfares into downtown Afton an overhaul.

Originally constructed in 1926, CR-18 hasn't had a major repair completed in nearly 20 years, said Washington County engineer Cory Slagle. The traffic count for the road averages between 1,500 and 2,200 trips per day.

"It's a very old roadway characterized by very poor pavement," Slagle said at the Tuesday, May 12, Washington County Board meeting.

The road currently lacks shoulders and turn lanes and has a few sharp curves that county public works officials want to fix once and for all.

The Washington County Board of Commissioner voted May 12 to approve an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to officially authorize the bidding process for the project, which Slagle said is slated to begin shortly after the Fourth of July.

The county received $3.9 million in federal highway funding for the CR-18 reconstruction project in 2003. The total cost for the project is estimated at $5.1 million, Slagle said.

Because of the historic nature of the road, county transportation officials worked with the city of Afton over the last few years to develop a preferred design for the roadway improvements that incorporate the natural preservation route standards as defined by the state department of transportation.

"This option that helps us maintain the character of the roadway, but also helps maintain safety improvements," Slagle told commissioners.

The Afton City Council signed off on the county's plans for the road late last year.

Last week the federal highway administration authorized the county to move ahead with the project.

The county will start soliciting bids for the project next month and is expected to begin construction shortly after the Fourth of July, Slagle said.

The project will be conducted in phases and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2010, Slagle said.

The county plans to implement a communications plan for residents throughout the duration of the project, Slagle said.