A $34 million dilemma

Colored lines designate streets that could be grouped together in Phase Three infrastructure improvement projects. Estimated cost for each colored area is: Blue: $5 million. Orange: $2.5M. Purple: $3.5M. Cyan: $3.8M. Brown: $1.8M. Yellow: $1.8M. Magenta: $4.1M. Black: $4.5M. Red: $4.5M. Green: $2.5M.

Phase Three estimate raises eyebrows

By Seth Schmidt

Huge expenses face Tracy residents, if the city moves forward with recommended sewer, water, and storm sewer improvements.
Consulting engineers presented a report to the Tracy City Council Monday, that estimates the cost of “Phase Three” infrastructure improvements at $34.2 million.   Of that total, the report projects that Tracy might be eligible for $11.9 million in federal grant funding, leaving the remainder to be financed with loans, property taxes, special assessments, and increased utility fees.
The $34 million in estimated future improvements would be on top of the $3.6 million Phase One infrastructure project that began this spring, and a planned Phase Two project to build new sewage lagoons that has an estimated price tag of $7.4 million.
“That’s a big number,” said Chris Larson, the city’s lead engineer for the I&S Group of Mankato, of the Phase Three improvement costs.  He suggested the council look at the Phase Three report as a “starting point” for considering a course of action.
Larson said that the completion of the Phase One and Two projects will still leave Tracy with a host of unresolved infrastructure issues.  Improvements done so far, he termed, “the low-hanging fruit.
Unfortunately, Larson added said, deficiencies in the city’s aging sanitary sewer, water, and storm sewer systems will not get any better with the passage of time.
The Phase Three improvements would affect nearly every part of Tracy. (See related city map).  Installing new water main, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer pipes would also require extensive street excavations.
The Phase Three report breaks down future needs into ten separate projects— each with an estimated cost of $1.8 to $5 million—that could be done over a period of years.
The Phase Three recommendations are based on issues identified by the recent “televising” of existing underground infrastructure.  Work would be done starting on the “downstream” portions of town closest to the Phase One improvements being done this year in northeast Tracy.
The I&S report was first time that the council was given the $34 million estimate. Council members have previously discussed the Phase Three infrastructure needs only in general terms.
No action on the Phase One report was taken Monday.  Council consensus was that a council-staff “work session” should be called to discuss the report, and decide what they want to do.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.