As the construction of the Wright County Justice Center and new Government Center continues, the question of who would be responsible for the road currently known as Braddock Avenue NE has been a topic of conversation for several months. The road has been the responsibility of Buffalo Township, but with increased traffic coming to the site as Wright County moves its operations to a campus alongside Braddock Avenue, it seemed a natural fit for the county to take over the road.
After months of negotiations, Wright County has reached an agreement with Buffalo Township, acquiring Braddock Avenue (now Co. Rd. 148) and giving the township a similar segment of Co. Rd. 147 (now Bradshaw Avenue NE). Wright County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said the trade of roads has benefits for both the county and the township.
“We approached the township with this request,” Hawkins said. “Obviously, the buildings the county are constructing right now are out on Co. Rd. 148, which is the part of Braddock Avenue that is a county road right now up to Law Enforcement Center. We knew traffic was going to increase to the north, which is Braddock Avenue, because a transportation study was done in 2019 to evaluate the increased traffic on Braddock because of the new buildings coming out here. The perception is that it’s going to be significant. Clearly, there will be an increase in traffic, but it won’t be outrageous. There will be other points of entry to those buildings that will spread out the increase in daily traffic.”
Hawkins said the road swap made sense because Braddock Avenue will be a primary feeder road into the county campus and the township shouldn’t be required to maintain a road that will experience predominantly county traffic. In addition, Co. Rd. 147 has been an orphaned stretch of the county road system after the City of Buffalo created Settler’s Park in 2014 and served little purpose on the county system.
“The perception was that the county should take that township road over and extend Co. Rd. 148 all the way up to Co. Rd. 113 and make improvements to the road,” Hawkins said. “It needs some upgrading. A second reason was that our Transportation Plan identified that segment of road as a candidate to be ajurisdictional transfer for the county to take over for connection purposes. In that same study, there was a stretch of Co. Rd. 147 that was identified to be turned back to Buffalo Township. The two roads are about the exact same length – about .9 miles each.”
Hawkins said that, strictly looking at the two roads, Buffalo Township is getting the better end of the deal. Braddock Avenue is in need of repairs and hasn’t been significantly upgraded in the last two decades. Meanwhile, Co. Rd. 147 has recently had sealcoat work and upgrades in recent years and, given the lack of traffic, likely won’t need any major repairs for years to come.
The county and township had been in discussions for six months. Initially, the Buffalo Township Board didn’t have much interest in taking on the one-mile segment of Co. Rd. 147. It was willing to give up Braddock Avenue, but didn’t want to add a new road to its township system. Despite the initial gloomy outlook of getting the deal done, Hawkins said he has always been an optimistic person and felt that, in the end, if something is right for both sides, it will get done.
To sweeten the deal, the county agreed to pay the township $4,600 for three years to cover the costs of maintenance. It was the same price the county had paid the City of Buffalo to maintain the road because, as Hawkins put it, “it was so far off the beaten path of our snow plow routes, it wasn’t worth it to send trucks out there to plow less than a mile of road.”
The Wright County Board of Commissioners and the Buffalo Township Board of Supervisors both approved the jurisdictional swap. Hawkins said the hope is to have improvements made to the new section of Co. Rd. 148 prior to county employees in the Government Center moving into its new building in the summer of 2021. While many aspects of doing business are clouded by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawkins said he isn’t sure if the upgrades will be done before occupancy of the new Government Center, but he said trading the two segments of road will have positive results for both jurisdictions.
“I think this is a deal that will benefit both the county and the township,” Hawkins said. “The county is getting a connector road that is going to run past all of our county facilities when we’re all on one campus out here and the township got a better road that won’t require the level of maintenance down the line that Braddock Avenue was going to require. I think we both won in this situation.”