Harris residents, mayor voice opposition to road reversion plan

Residents of Harris have been coming to the past two Chisago County Board of Commissioners meetings to oppose a road reversion plan that would switch about six miles of area roads from county to city jurisdiction.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, Harris Mayor Diane Miller was with them to express the same concerns.

She said part of the county transportation plan includes turning back county roads 61, 59 and 58 to the city of Harris. The city would then be responsible for maintenance of these roads.

“These 6-plus miles of road handle more through traffic than our smaller city streets, and therefore require more maintenance and repair,” she said. “The bottom line is that the city of Harris does not have the financial capacity to take over the maintenance that would be required to keep these roads safe and accessible.”

Resident Trent Kroschel addressed what he deemed to be safety concerns on County Road 61.

He said school buses have gotten stuck on the road, motorists slip off icy 90-degree corners in the winter, and in the summertime the road becomes like a washboard very quickly, which damages vehicles that drive upon the unpaved thoroughfare.

He also noted Harris does not have the capacity to take care of the road.

“The city of Harris is not equipped to provide service on County Road 61,” he said. “Between Stark Road and Harris is Evergreen, 455th and Elmcrest. This is a 1.5-mile stretch of road that is maintained by the city of Harris that connects to County Road 61. The majority of grading on this road is done by Craig Molin, who volunteers his time, because he lives on this road. I spoke with him, and last summer he graded that road nine times. The city of Harris? Three.”

If the road reversion does happen, County Engineer Joe Triplett proposed the county still continue maintenance of the roads for two years while Harris develops a plan on how to manage the roads.

Resident Judy Hammerstrom said she was appreciative of the suggestion, but said she believes there is too much traffic on the road for it to be under control of the city.

When it comes time to vote on the road reversion plan at a future County Board meeting, Commissioner Mike Robinson said he would not be supporting the measure.

“I’ve told you before that I won’t be voting for this road deal,” he said. “I think the guy from the cities who came up with the plan … If he lived on a couple of these roads, he wouldn’t recommend it, because I think his wife would kill him.”

At the end of the discussion, Robinson added: “The people who spoke here from Harris tonight are telling the truth. They’re not making anything up. My in-laws lived on that road, and I know exactly what their concerns are and the financial position of Harris, and I agree with what they said.”

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