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Road improvements

Ghent, Russell seek state grant funding to reconstruct high-traffic roads

The city of Ghent has been trying to secure grant funding to reconstruct McQuestion Street since 2017. The street is often used by larger or slower vehicles to bypass Highway 68, city staff said.

MARSHALL — Semi trucks and farm equipment are a common sight traveling through southwest Minnesota — but a lot of heavy traffic eventually takes a toll on roads. In Lyon County, the cities of Ghent and Russell are trying to find ways to cover the cost of rebuilding some well-traveled roads.

The cities of Ghent and Russell are both applying for Local Road Improvement Program funding from the state to reconstruct part of McQuestion Street in Ghent, and part of Lyon County Road 15 in Russell. Both roads get a lot of traffic from heavy vehicles, and are deteriorating, city and county staff said. Ghent is seeking about $1.25 million in LRIP funding, and Russell is requesting $750,000.

“We support both those projects,” said Lyon County highway engineer Aaron VanMoer.

Last week, the Lyon County Board agreed to act as the fiscal sponsor for both cities’ grant applications.

VanMoer said Lyon County had been contacted by “quite a few” townships and small cities in the county about LRIP applications. The Local Road Improvement Program helps provide funding for capital construction costs for county, city or township road projects.

The city of Ghent has been trying to get funding to reconstruct McQuestion street since 2017, said Ghent city clerk Dawn Vlaminck.

“This is Ghent’s third time applying (for LRIP funding),” said VanMoer said.

The McQuestion Street reconstruction project would help allow the street to continue to be used as a truck route, Vlaminck said. Many commercial semis and farm vehicles travel through Ghent using Lyon County Road 5, County Road 8 and Minnesota Highway 68. However, it’s often safer for bigger or slower vehicles to bypass Highway 68 by traveling along McQuestion Street instead.

In Ghent’s LRIP application, city staff said the project would rebuild McQuestion Street, as well as replacing part of the storm sewer system and adding sidewalks, curbs and gutters to part of the street. Estimated total cost for the project is about $1.9 million, and the city is applying for $1.249 million in LRIP funding.

Lyon County Road 15 passes through the city of Russell, and city staff said the road’s surface is also in rough shape. The route is frequently used by trucks traveling from gravel pits north of the city to Highway 23, and farm equipment and farm trucks also use the road. The city wants to rebuild both County Road 15 and Lake Avenue within Russell city limits, and upgrade the roads to 10-ton standards to support the heavy trucks.

According to Russell’s LRIP application, the project won’t be possible without help from outside funding. The estimated cost of the project is over $2.6 million. The city is seeking $750,000 in LRIP funding, and would also use $260,000 in state aid funds.

VanMoer said resurfacing County Road 15 is on the county’s list of planned capital improvement projects. If Russell receives LRIP funding to upgrade County Road 15, the city would take the lead on the project, VanMoer said.

It’s possible that Lyon County could still see more grant applications from area cities and townships, VanMoer told county commissioners last week. The LRIP grant application window is open until March 3.

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