The Cloquet Department of Public Works is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Cloquet’s streets and publicly owned sewer and water utility. With an annual operating budget of $5.8 million, its twenty-five member staff is divided into five divisions; Street, Water, Wastewater, Lake Superior Waterline Operations, and Engineering. Normal working hours for the Public Works maintenance staff are weekdays, 7:30am to 4:00pm.
A common neighborhood request concerns the posting of “CHILDREN AT PLAY” or other similar warning signs. Parental concern for the safety of children and a misplaced but widespread public faith in traffic signs often prompt these requests.
Although some states have posted such signs in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, a great disservice results.
Because of these serious considerations, Minnesota law does not recognize, and Federal Standards discourage, the use of “Children at Play” signs. The City does, however, provide such signs in the vicinity of schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities.
A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection decide who has the right-of-way.
A common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic, either by causing it to stop or by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs are installed as “nuisances” or “speed breakers,” there is a high incidence of intentional violation. In those locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign, and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, it should not be used as a speed control device.
Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations; however, when an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security for a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic results.
Well-developed, nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such controls become necessary. These guidelines take into consideration, among other things, the probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time, the length of time traffic must wait to enter, and the availability of safe crossing opportunities.
A common belief is that posting a speed limit will influence drivers to drive at that speed. The facts indicate otherwise. Research conducted in many parts of this country over a span of several decades has shown that drivers are influenced more by the appearance of the roadway itself and the prevailing traffic conditions rather than posted speed limits.
Many people may not know that the authority to set speed limits on all Minnesota public roadways resides with the State Commissioner of Transportation. This includes our City streets. Urban residential streets have a statutory speed limit of 30 miles per hour (mph) and generally the speed limit can only be modified by the Commissioner based upon an engineering and traffic investigation that warrants a speed reduction. Such an investigation includes an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records and the prevailing speed of prudent drivers. One exception to the 30 mph speed limit on urban streets is in the area of School Zones when children are present. In these cases the limit may be reduced to 20 mph.
The Public Works Department normally plows snow after three or more inches of accumulation. Lesser amounts are usually sanded and salted. Because of conflicts with traffic and parked vehicles, most major plowing operations begin between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.
No. The shoveling and clearing of sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner.
If a plow truck actually strikes a mailbox, the City will repair or replace it. However, if the mailbox simply falls over or comes off the post as a result of snow coming off the plow, it is the homeowners responsibility.
The paved portion of a typical residential street in Cloquet is 32 feet wide. The actual amount of property or “right-of-way” owned by the City for most streets ranges between 50 and 66 feet. This means even though the pavement may only be 32 feet wide, another 9 to 17 feet behind the curb is the property of the City. The purpose of this extra property is for snow storage, sidewalks, and for the construction of various utilities such as sewer, water, telephone, natural gas, and electric. For these reasons it is a violation of State law to construct any permanent structures within this area, except for mailboxes. Certain exceptions may be granted, however, they require a Right-of-Way Occupation Permit, which may be granted by the City Engineer’s Office.
Each year the City updates its five-year permanent improvement plan, which addresses not only the reconstruction of existing streets but also its sanitary sewer and water systems. Each year’s reconstruction program is then developed based upon critical need and available funding. In some cases, the property owners must petition the City Council to initiate these improvements. In almost all cases, a portion of the reconstruction costs is assessed or billed back to the property owners along the project route and can be paid for over a number of years. For more information on the costs involved, please contact the City Engineers Office at 218-879-6758.
Who do I call if the sewer is backing up in my basement or I have some other Public Works Emergency?
If you have an emergency, which requires immediate assistance from the Sewer, Water or Street Departments, you can call (218) 879-6758 during normal working hours. After normal working hours, and on weekends, the Public Works Department has an emergency dispatcher who can be reached at (218) 624-0391.
Cloquet is a member of the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) and all sanitary wastewater flows from the area get pumped to Duluth for processing at the WLSSD wastewater treatment plant.
I have a sump pump in my basement and somewhere I heard it's illegal for this to pump into my laundry tub or floor drains. Is this true?
Yes. Sump pumps are installed to collect groundwater from the drain tile around the outside of your basement foundation walls in order to keep your basement dry. Many older homes may have a small manhole or gravity catch basin in the basement floor, which collects the drain tile water but then pipes it directly to your sewer system. It is a violation of both State and City law to discharge uncontaminated sump pump or drain tile water to a sanitary sewer system. These types of connections can cause an overloading of the sewer system and, particularly during heavy rain storms, result in the overflowing of untreated wastewater to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. This type of pollution is a major problem for WLSSD and every community within the Sanitary District. For more information and help on this particular subject, the City Engineers Office has a number of free pamphlets available and also staff who are willing to work with you.
The Cloquet Water Utility obtains its drinking water from four groundwater wells, which on average produce 1.2 million gallons per day. To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the Minnesota Department of Health regulates and monitors all public water supplies. Cloquet’s water has been tested for some 80 regulated contaminants in addition to dozens of unregulated ones. No substances have ever been detected that exceed limits set by the state or federal government. In addition to its well water supply, Cloquet also owns and operates a pipeline from Lake Superior to the Sappi Paper Mill. The Lake Superior Waterline, however, is not used to provide Cloquet drinking water.