Main Street reopens to traffic Aug. 2

Main Street (County Road 14/125th Avenue N.E.) in Blaine and Coon Rapids is scheduled to reopen to traffic Thursday, Aug. 2.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at Roosevelt Middle School, Blaine, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 4 to 6 p.m.

Reconstruction of Main Street/125th Avenue from Crane Street in Coon Rapids to Ulysses Street N.E. in Blaine began in September 2011.

Since last fall the segment from Avocet Street to Foley Boulevard, where the overpass over the single-line Burlington-Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad track is being built, has been shut down to traffic.

And in March, the portion of Main Street from Foley to University Avenue – the Blaine/Coon Rapids border – was closed.

In addition, the segment from Crane to Avocet streets in Coon Rapids, which was shut down June 21, reopened to traffic Sunday (July 1).

Meantime, the construction area from University Avenue of Ulysses Street N.E. in Blaine has been open to traffic since late fall 2011, but lane closures continue, said Kate Garwood, county multi-modal manager.

Even when the entire stretch of Main  Street/125th Avenue N.E., from Crane to Ulysses reopens Aug. 2, the project won’t be finished, according to Anoka County Highway Engineer Doug Fischer.

“There’s still plenty of work to do before the road reopens Aug. 2 and there will be a lot of work to complete when it is open,” Fischer said.

For example, the final paving might not have been done by Aug. 2, he said.

That means motorists can expect lane closures, but there will be not be any more complete road shutdowns, Fischer said.

Contractor C.S. McCrossan got a later than anticipated start on the project in September 2011, but was able to catch up over the winter months because of the mild weather and lack of snow, according to Fischer.

The mild winter was especially helpful with the overpass construction work, Fischer said.

And most of the early work on the project involved underground construction, for example, storm sewer, sanitary sewer and gas lines, that is not visible, he said.

“The project is moving forward very nicely despite all the rain we have had,” Fischer said.

The contract with McCrossan called for the project to be “substantially complete” by Aug. 2, he said.

The Main Street/125th Avenue design-build reconstruction project covers three and one half miles and is the first design-build project to be undertaken by a county in the state, although the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has used the process for a number of its projects.

Design-build differs from the traditional process where bidding on a project construction contract comes after detailed plans and specifications prepared by a design engineer have been approved by the government agency.

In this case, the county spelled out the parameters of the project on which a design-build team comprising a contractor and an engineering firm submitted their bids.

The county board awarded a $35,308,000 contract to McCrossan and SRF in May 2011.

But when right of way acquisition, preliminary design and project oversight services are factored in the total project cost is more than $40 million, Fischer said.

The bulk of the project cost is being paid for through state turnback funds, which became available when the Minnesota Department of Transportation turned back jurisdiction over the road, then State Highway 242, to the county some years ago.

Under the project, Main Street/125th Avenue N.W. is being increased from two to four lanes with a raised median, curb and gutter and a pedestrian trail the full length of the project.

The existing five signals on the segment are being replaced with new signals and protected turn lanes.

Besides the turnback dollars, both the cities of Blaine and Coon Rapids are contributing to the project cost for work such as the new traffic signal and trail construction.

According to the Anoka County Highway Department website, the project benefits will include increased safety and mobility due to additional capacity; reduced delays and congestion from improved intersections, improved roadway access, improve bike and pedestrian safety and mobility and increased longevity of the roadway in areas with poor soil.