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Keeping the Heart of the City prettier than the Rest of the City

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Wide White: Keeping the Heart of the City prettier than the Rest of the City

Friday, January 22, 2010

Keeping the Heart of the City prettier than the Rest of the City

Browsing the Burnsville City Council's worksession minutes from 1/12/2010, I was happy to see a reconstruction project for Burnsville Parkway listed. The $9.65 million price tag is going to be tough to swallow, but the street is in terrible shape and is in major need of improvement.

However, I was perplexed by one portion of the recommendations in particular to which the council agreed:
Burnsville Parkway/Pleasant Avenue - Burnsville Parkway HOC DRC Recommendations
  1. Replace colored concrete intersections with bituminous (blacktop) pavement except for Nicollet Avenue
a. Partial removal necessary for underground improvements
b. DRC didn’t feel colored intersections provide as much appeal as other aesthetic elements on Burnsville Parkway
c. DRC feels that the color fades with time
d. Bituminous intersections would reduce project cost by estimated $80,000
e. Bituminous intersections would reduce project time and provide better access during construction
f. Ride quality would improve with no material change at intersections
  • Council consensus to move forward with the recommendation
So, blacktop is cheaper and doesn't fade and there are more aesthetically pleasing options than colored concrete, but we're still going to use the more expensive colored concrete at the intersection with Nicollet Avenue?

Can you think of any reason we might do that?

First, let's be honest: colored pavement IS more aesthetically pleasing - at least when it's brand new. Never mind the additional expense upfront and the fading in the future. It's got a prettier finish for at least the first few years.

Second, let's not forget: this is the Heart of the City we're talking about here. Part of keeping Mayor Kautz's playground beautiful is spending whatever is necessary to, well, beautify it.

Here's what this intersection looks like now from the ground:

View Larger Map

Can you imagine the horror if that were all black?!?!

Yeah, I wouldn't care either. (And for what it's worth, I go through it a few times every day.)

This is what sucks about the Heart of the City. We'll continue to invest more money in the Heart of the City than we will in what we might as well dub the Rest of the City. It's wrong and it sucks.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope there's a really compelling reason to use colored concrete in this intersection other than pure beautification.

But I can't imagine any other reason for the additional expense.

Burnsville Parkway currently has colored concrete at its intersections with Aldrich, Gateway, Pleasant, Pillsbury, Nicollet, and Eagle Ridge. Based on the suggested savings of $80,000 that eliminating colored concrete from 5 of these intersections would bring, colored concrete costs an additional $16,000 per intersection over blacktop. In case you've forgotten, our police department needs $18,000 to maintain its canine unit. Settle with blacktop at Nicollet and you're just $2,000 $700 short. I'm just saying...

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the aesthetically pleasing element that is being suggested to compensate for the lost colored concrete intersection at Eagle Ridge is street lights. I'm not sure how something used only at night during the parkway's hours of least usage is more aesthetically pleasing than something everyone would see during the day. I do know that 10.4% of the construction of the street will be paid for with property assessments, while 65% of the street lights will be paid for with assessments. Take that for what it's worth.

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