Austin City Council member At-Large Jeff Austin, 2nd Ward councilman Jason Baskin, 1st Ward councilwoman Laura Helle and 3rd Ward councilmember Joyce Poshusta all took their oaths of office to serve on the council in the first meeting of 2023 for the council Tuesday evening.  Austin, Baskin and Poshusta all won reelection last November, while Helle defeated incumbent Rebecca Waller in the general election.

In other business Tuesday evening, the council moved unanimously to support a grant application to MnDOT for a stand-alone noise barrier program application, and commitment to the local project costs.  Public Works Director Steven Lang stated to the council that SRF Consulting Group recently completed a noise evaluation study of the Pasture Heights neighborhood from the 300 block of 14th Place NW to the 1400 block of 2nd St. NW near Interstate 90.  As part of the study, SRF collected existing noise levels near 306 14th Place NW and 1407 2nd Street NW, and Lang stated that information was then used together with noise modeling based on the new MnDOT design Single Point Intersection planned for the 4th Street NW and I90 interchange.  Lang went on to state that multiple options of barrier wall height and length were reviewed to maximize the number of benefitting receptors and minimize the project cost to meet the cost effectiveness threshold of $78,500 per receptor, and he stated that the recommendation for the city would be to build a 910-foot long, 17-foot high barrier which would benefit seven different receptors at a total cost of $541,800, or $77,400 per receptor.  Lang went on to state to the council that the requirement of a 10% local cost share would require a local cost commitment of $100,000 to $125,000.  He went on to state that options for funding the local share could include assessing the project cost to the seven benefitting parcels, which would be $14,000 to $18,000 per parcel, using tax levy dollars to spread the cost out to the entire community, or some combination of options one and two.  It was the consensus of the council to wait to see the outcome of the grant application process before any further action is taken on the project.  

In other business Tuesday evening, the Austin City Council approved seven different resolutions receiving feasibility reports and calling for public hearings on February 21st for seven different street improvement projects coming up for the city in 2023.  Two of the projects will be taking place in northwest Austin, three of the projects will take place in northeast Austin, and two will take place in the southwestern section of the city this year.

The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Austin City Council will be held on January 17th at 5:30 p.m. at the Austin City Council chambers.