Ranger Road gets state attentionThe town of Brule has a large pot of money coming its way, and it has the Department of Natural Resources to thank.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The town of Brule has a large pot of money coming its way, and it has the Department of Natural Resources to thank.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Brule Town Board, Brule River State Forest superintendent Dave Schulz announced that Brule was chosen for a grant through the Town & County Road Aids program. The program provides funds for the maintenance of town or country roads that see increased traffic and wear due to state land use.
Brule will receive nearly $149,000 from the DNR to renovate Ranger Road, which is the main thoroughfare leading to the Brule DNR headquarters and campground.
“One of the big factors we look at is how much use is due to the state forest, and locally Ranger Road ranked the highest priority,” Schulz said. “For one it’s where all of our DNR trucks and deliveries go down every day. No. 2, it’s our campground — our busiest campground. No. 3, it’s really the access point between Winneboujou and Highway 2 canoe landings. It gets a ton of use, and when you really count the cars, probably 90 percent or more is due to the state forest.”
In December, Schulz met with Dennis Smet, chairman of the Brule Town Board, to discuss which roads within the town of Brule were most in need of repair due to the state forest. The two came up with a list of five roads: Ranger Road, Congdon Road, Hatchery Road, Clay Road and Culhane Road.
Ranger Road ranked first on the Brule River State Forest’s priority list, and statewide, the project ranked high enough to receive funding.
“Basically, they funded one project from each of the three major state forests that put in for the projects,” Schulz said.
The total estimated cost of the Brule road project is $157,250. The town of Brule has offered to put up $8,500 for the project, and the DNR will cover the remaining $148,750.
“That played into it also,” Schulz said. “They wanted to see that the local government had ownership in it as well. That the town was willing to pay $8,500 toward the ditching and shouldering and those types of things really helped that project.”
Schulz is awaiting final instructions about the paperwork that needs to be filed, but he said it is mostly a formality.
“This money is yours,” Schulz said to the town board. “It’s a done deal. It’s just a matter of going through the process that the DNR is going to require.”
The first step for Schulz is getting final numbers on the project’s cost. The figures being used now are an estimate provided by Northwoods Paving. The project will be put out to bid shortly, and from there Schulz has until March 15 to lock down the details, including final cost.
The town of Brule must then pass a resolution stating that it is willing to follow through with the project. The deadline for that phase of the process is April 15.
If all goes as planned, the Town Board will receive a letter of commitment by May 1 that will allow them to move forward with construction.
For its part, the town board was anxious to proceed.
“If you need that resolution by April 15, I think we can give you that tonight,” Smet joked. “We are going to do our portion of it.”
Schulz said he doesn’t know if the roadwork will be treated as a town project or a DNR project. If Brule is responsible, the town government may have to approve a loan to cover the cost and then get reimbursed by the DNR.
“That wouldn’t be a big problem,” Smet said. “We’d just have to pay the interest on the loan because we don’t have that kind of money. We would definitely do it.”
Smet said Brule hasn’t had the opportunity to be involved in a project like this in 14 to 15 years. The last DNR project he remembered was the repair of Park Road, which leads to the Copper Range Campground. Smet said the DNR covered about 90 percent of the cost for that project.
Current estimates show the DNR covering almost 95 percent of the Ranger Road project.
“This is a project that the town could not afford to do on its own — $157,000 for a mile and a quarter of blacktop?” Smet said. “That’s a third of our budget. How could we afford to do that?”
“It should really help out the town, and it’s going to make a nice entrance point to our state forest,” Schulz said. “Hopefully this funding will not go away either.”
The state has budgeted $886,000 for the Road Aids program this year and the same amount for 2013. About half of the total funds were allotted to state forests for use this year.