Joshua Avenue Project Playing the Waiting Game

By KBJR News 1

October 22, 2012 Updated Oct 22, 2012 at 8:55 PM CST

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - An extension of an avenue which would connect Duluth's mall area to Arrowhead Road has been decades in the making, and while there has been recent progress, it will still have to wait.

Councilors tabled a request for a permanent design tonight to extend Joshua Avenue that would help make the project shovel ready.

It is a project that has come and gone over the years.

As more studies and plans have come forward, many homeowners living in the area have become worried about how a new busy road would affect their property values.

Current plans show Joshua Avenue extended from Maple Grove Road and connecting to Arrowhead Road, meaning about one mile of new road would need to be built, and there are several homes and wetlands to maneuver around along the way.

The project has gotten $400,000 in federal funding to help do the work to help make it shovel ready as well local funds, but no funds have been secured to actually construct it, leaving it up in the air.

Councilors have to consider whether to vote no, sending back just over $200,000 of unused funds to the feds, or to vote yes potentially wasting the money if preparation studies like environmental reports become out of date before the project gets funded.

There is also the homeowners to take into account as well.

"I think it is somewhat irresponsible to target that money to have it on the shelf ...You're going to leave those residents, I think your term was, 'in limbo', "said Frank Stokes, a Duluthian.

A city engineer pointed out that shovel ready projects tend to have an advantage in getting federal funding, however, he also said federal funding for federal projects appear to focused on federal highways in the future, not local roads.

That means the project may have to be funded locally or through bonding.

The council will take up the matter again at its next council meeting.

The council also voted to approve the Citizen Review Board in a unanimous vote.

Earlier in the evening the council met with Mayor Don Ness's picks for the board to get to know them better.

The board will be tasked with taking and investigating public complaints about police work, meant to help create a better relationship between the community and police.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike
jpike@northlandsnewscenter.com