A makeover is in store for Olson Lake Trail

Washington County has proposed renovations for Olson Lake Trail/Ideal Avenue. (submitted graphic)
Washington County has proposed renovations for Olson Lake Trail/Ideal Avenue. (submitted graphic)

County Road 13 renovations will affect Oakdale/Lake Elmo residents

Olson Lake Trail/Ideal Avenue is in rough shape and needs attention. That’s the assessment of Washington County traffic engineers, who say patching the busy thoroughfare, also known as County State Aid Highway 13, is no longer cost-effective.  

They’ve drawn up several options that they believe would address city, county and residents’ concerns. The plans call for resurfacing and possibly reconstructing about 1.7 miles of the road bordering Oakdale and Lake Elmo.

Currently, this portion of Olson Lake Trail/Ideal Avenue is a two-lane highway with a speed limit ranging from 40 to 50 miles per hour. According to a recent roadway study, 2,500 to 3,500 vehicles use the road daily. 

The portion of road north of Hidden Bay Trail was constructed in 1960, and the portion south of that point it was constructed in 1945. Both the northern and southern sections were most recently resurfaced in 1986.

County engineers report that most of the roadway has no ditches. And those segments that do have them, they’re either inadequate or at inappropriate slopes which leads to road and yard flooding. 

Additionally, the shoulders are very narrow which leaves no room for on-street parking, vehicle breakdowns, safe traffic enforcement, walking or bicycling, according to a county report.


“CSAH 13 cannot be rebuilt in the same conditions,” said Washington County project manager Frank Ticknor, who met with the Lake Elmo City Council Tuesday, Feb. 9, and described six alternatives to what currently exists.

Two of the four alternatives include a multi-use walking and biking trail following the west side of the road and connecting with the DNR’s Gateway Trail. If the cities choose to construct a wider shoulder, the alternatives without a trail could still provide safer walking and biking conditions than currently exist. 

“We’re looking for a minimum of a six foot shoulder for just general [use], but a 10-foot shoulder if we’re looking for on-street parking,” Ticknor said.

Another component to the six alternatives is the method of water drainage. One plan includes only ditches while other plans include only a curb-and-gutter system. Some plans include a combination of both. Ditches along this road cannot be connected, which means that each ditch pocket needs its own outfall. The a curb-and -gutter system provides control to better direct and treat runoff water. =


“The major difference [between the reconstruction alternatives] comes down to the project cost,” Ticknor said. 

“The county is going to be using the State Aid Fund, which is gas tax money, for the roadway portions,” Ticknor said. The county will also contribute 50 percent to some other features such as trails, retaining walls and curb -and-gutter systems. Oakdale and Lake Elmo will be sharing the local contribution costs.

The all-ditch alternative is the most expensive option because it requires the most property acquisition. 

“The ditches seem awfully expensive and not a lot of benefit,” said Lake Elmo council member Anne Smith.

“It feels that there’s just not enough yard in a lot of areas along this road to do the ditches. It would be so intrusive on the property owners,” added council member Julie Fliflet.

“The curb-and-gutter [system] limits the impact to the adjacent properties, so we have a lot less right-of-way acquisition,” Ticknor responded.

Currently, Lake Elmo’s council members said they were leaning toward the option that includes a trail and a curb-and-gutter system. 

“It has the least impact to property owners; it really solves all the problems with the water quality; it costs $500,000 more than without the trail, so you’re talking about a half a million dollars for a trail that would connect up to the Gateway, which seems to make sense,” Smith said.

According to Oakdale Mayor, Stan Karwoski, the Oakdale City Council members generally have a favorable opinion of the project. They support the road upgrade, the trail connection and on-street parking, though Karwoski also wants to be mindful to not overburden taxpayers. 

He said the city council would have a more defined opinion of the project after their next workshop on the project  scheduled for 6 p.m. March 8.

“We’re happy that residents are embracing improvements,” Karwoski said.

Washington County engineers plan to hold the project’s third open house in April or May, and they hope to begin construction May 2017.

Aundrea Kinney can be reached at akinney@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7822.


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