City Council advances choice for one-ways reconstruction project

Published 8:28 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

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The upcoming construction project involving Oakland Avenue and First Avenue SW took another step forward with the Austin City Council advancing its pick Tuesday night for how the one-ways will look when construction is completed in 2027.

In a 5-2 vote, the council advanced one of three options presented Tuesday night during the council’s work session, which calls for an overall narrowing of the one-ways by three feet among other changes.

Council members Jason Baskin, Laura Helle, Joyce Poshusta and Jeff Austin all voted in favor of advancing the option to the next board meeting on Jan. 16.

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“I look at these and think Option 2 makes the most sense,” Postma said, referring to the ideas of added space for cyclists and reducing speeds through the narrowing of roads as perks of the plan. “I think it really does a good job of balancing the needs of the people.”

Geoff Baker and Paul Fischer voted against the option, supporting instead the option that would leave plans for the reconstructed roads as they currently are.

For the most part, the option chosen by the council Tuesday night maintains the attributes of current roads: two lanes of traffic, parking on both sides, sidewalks on both sides and boulevard space.

However, it changes slightly with the narrowing of three feet from 44 feet wide to 41 feet. Driving lanes would be 11 feet wide each as opposed to 12 feet and parking would lose six inches from 10 feet down to nine and a half feet.

On both roadways, that would leave eight feet for a sidewalk on one side and five feet on the opposite sidewalk.

However, both Fischer and Baker had issues with the lost space as well as going away from the option that many had chosen during a second online survey conducted by city engineers.

There were 587 responses to that survey conducted late in the year, over two hundred more that responded to the initial survey conducted in September.

In the most recent survey, 327 or 55.71% of respondents voted for the option that maintained current specs while 227 or 38.67% voted for the council’s choice.

A third option, that would have narrowed the driving lanes and parking lanes by a foot and six inches respectively, drew just 33 votes for 5.62%.

“I like Option 2,” Baker admitted before adding, “I struggle with the fact of taking away three feet out of the boulevard. I’m struggling with that one.”

Slated to begin construction in the spring of 2025, the project will replace a span of road on both one-ways totaling 25 blocks. The work will include Oakland Avenue from 12th Street NW to First Street NE and First Avenue SW from 12th Street SW to Main Street and will be done roughly in eight-block chunks each year. Construction time for the project will stretch from 2025-2027 and will take place alongside much of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s bridge replacement project on Interstate 90. That project will begin this spring starting with the Oakland Avenue bridge on the west edge of Austin.

For more on the one-way project, visit:

In other news

The council also advanced a 7% increase to assessment rates for 2024 to the next city council meeting for final approval.

The increase follows a trend of 7% over the past few years. With the increase, residential rates will rise to $64.32 per foot of frontage while commercial sites would pay $91.85 per foot of frontage.