2010 FLOOD DAMAGE AND BUILDING PROJECT
Artist rendering of proposed building
In September 2010, the Straight River flooded in response to heavy rainfall. Steele County Public Works buildings housing the County’s highway maintenance equipment, materials and testing lab on Hoffman Drive in Owatonna were badly damaged from about five feet of contaminated flood waters covering the site for four days. Since then, the County had been leasing temporary facilities for its highway maintenance operations at a cost of about $200,000 per year.
The County studied the feasibility of restoring the flooded site. However, to meet flood plain management regulations, the site and buildings would need to be raised about 5.5 feet or flood walls would need to be constructed. The buildings were also old and in many ways obsolete and were located on a small, constrained site. In addition, maintenance, engineering and administration operations were at separate locations, resulting in operating inefficiencies.
Highway building inundated with flood waters in 2010
Steele County retained the services of an architect and construction manager to assist in reviewing long term alternatives for meeting the building needs of the County Highway Department. Alternatives included rehabilitation and expansion of the existing flooded site, purchase of existing vacant buildings, and construction of a new building at a new site. After considerable review and discussion with the public, Commissioners and staff, with the assistance of the architect and construction manager, the County determined that an investment in a new building would best meet its long-term needs.
The Steele County Board created a task force of citizens, County Board members, City of Owatonna representatives and County staff. In an iterative process, several building sizes and configurations were reviewed. In the end, the County Board selected a 45-acre site on the west side of Owatonna. The building was planned to meet all current needs for maintenance equipment, materials, engineering and administration. The final building plan provides for future expansion if needed. The building foundation pad provides for potential expansion to the equipment bays. A second floor to the office area provides for potential future office area expansion, perhaps for other County Departments. Building expansion of both equipment and office areas can be efficiently accomplished when needed.
The building has a footprint area of about 37,000 square feet. Exterior walls are precast concrete tip up panels. The roof is constructed of engineered steel trusses with a steel deck, insulation and rubber membrane roof. Environmental considerations include a building meeting stringent State B3 energy and recycling standards. The site will include native grass planting areas.
The County was successful in receiving $1.6 million in Federal FEMA flood damage funding and $4 million in State DEED funding. These funds are supplemented with County bonding and reserve funds. The total cost of the project, including architectural and management fees, land and construction is estimated to be $10,540,000.
The first phase of construction was essentially completed in the fall of 2017. It included site grading, aggregate base for roads and parking lots, fuel system, site lighting and sand / salt storage shed. The fuel system has been used by all County vehicles since the fall of 2017, allowing the County to save significant fueling costs by buying by the tanker truck load through bids.
Contracts for construction of the building were awarded in the summer of 2018. Building construction was substantially completed by April 2019 and then the maintenance crews moved in. Paving of the roads and parking lot were delayed because of weather and were completed during the summer of 2019. The highway administrative and engineering staff moved in afterwards.
A pole barn type storage building was constructed to store miscellaneous small equipment, supplies and materials.
Steele County now has an efficient, effective Public Works building which will serve County Highway Department needs for many years.