Design work on a new ramp at Anoka’s Northstar Commuter Rail station is moving ahead.
Anoka City Council had a look at preliminary designs last week, created by Kimley-Horn and Associates.
So far, the council is favoring the least expensive of the three designed by Kimley-Horn. A variation of this particular design is expected to come in under budget, estimated around $7.75 million, said Jon Horn, vice president of the firm.
However, the price tag could still change as the city has received approval to reduce the number of required parking stalls to 330. The ramp design presented to the council at its April 23 work session accommodated 350 vehicles.
This particular option will also adjust the traffic flow at the site, separating buses from other vehicles, which the council had suggested further tweaking based on Kimley-Horn’s designs.
The smallest footprint, this particular design would allow for 300 parking stalls in the ramp, with the addition of another 50 on a surface lot. Future expansion could take place vertically, according to Horn.
The city is planning to build the ramp, making use of a $5.85 million federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant it applied for back in 2005.
The council recently changed direction, concerned the city’s share would be too high, estimated to cost between $11 and $14 million.
City Manager Tim Cruikshank said the city had done some hand-wringing over the “use it or lose it” situation it was faced with when the deadline loomed on the federal grant.
Set to expire this spring, the city was successful in getting a one-year extension on the grant.
“We scoped down the size and the cost of the project to about $9 million,” said Cruikshank. “Part of that was reducing the number of stalls.”
Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look lent his support to the project, helping to procure the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority’s $575,000 contribution toward the project, which includes a pedestrian overpass to improve safety for Northstar riders.
Anoka is also applying for $2 million funding from the Counties Transportation Improvement Board (CTIB), made up of representatives from the five metro-area counties collecting a quarter-cent sales tax and a $20 motor vehicle tax since 2008, earmarked to invest in transit projects.
Cruikshank said the ramp will allow for parking to be stacked, making room for more tax-generating development on city-owned land in the commuter rail transit village.
“That has always been our goal,” he said.
Design work has to be largely completed next spring to meet the requirements of the CMAQ funding.
The city is expected to kick in just shy of $1 million from budgeted tax increment financing revenues.
According to Cruikshank, this is being designed as a basic parking facility.
“This is not a fancy ramp and not an enhanced ramp – certainly not like the one we have in our downtown,” said Cruikshank. “If we want to do that, that’s on our dime.”
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]