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Is Morningside project dead?

A motion was made at the Glencoe City Council’s Jan. 2 meeting to sign an agreement with McLeod County regarding the Morningside Avenue extension project. That motion died for a lack of a second.
The agreement, had it passed, outlined the responsibilities and cost shares for the county and the city. The project is a joint partnership between the county and the city, and has been in the work for years. The county and the city successfully petitioned the state of Minnesota for some significant bonding dollars for the project — to the tune of $2.35 million from the state’s Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP). The total cost of the project was estimated at $4.7 to $5 million, so the grant would cover just short of half the financial need.
There has always been debate over the project, which sought to extend Morningside Avenue from 11th Street north to 16th Street, just east of the school. A lot of that debate had to do with the projected cost … because of the need to establish a railroad crossing, move or demolish homes and address drainage issues, the cost seemed quite high for a five-block extension.
On the other hand, a goal of the city has long been to divert semi-truck traffic from winding through the downtown area on Highway 22. The proposal would have allowed trucks an opportunit to continue east-west along the northern edge of the city, and then head south on Morningside to access either the industrial park area and/or Highway 212.
The McLeod County Board of Commissioners approved the joint agreement back in December. The City Council’s lack of passing a similar motion leaves us hanging, with several questions:
— Is the Morningside project now dead in the water? Or does the City Council plan to regroup and try to resurrect it?
— Can the project be deferred without losing funding? At least one council member indicated that the city has greater needs for transportation than the Morningside project.
— What will happen to the LRIP grant funds if they are not used for Morningside?
— If Morningside is not a viable route for north-south truck traffic, what is? How do we divert truck traffic away from the downtown area?
— What will happen with the city’s relationship with the county? In the past, that relationship was sometimes testy and fraught with tension.
Fortunately, just as The Chronicle was going to press Tuesday, we learned of a joint workshop set for Friday with the council, economic development committee and the planning commission to discuss the issue.
Hopefully, we’ll have answers to our questions after that.