Fairgrounds road work to be done by fair time

Improvements to three existing roads at the Anoka County Fairgrounds will be completed before the 2012 Anoka County Fair opens Tuesday, July 24.

The Anoka County Board, on the recommendation of its Public Works Committee Chairperson Commissioner Andy Westerberg, approved adding the fairgrounds overlay work as well as another county road segment to the county’s 2012 overlay program contract.

When that contract for 24 miles of roadway overlays was awarded to North Valley Inc. in April, the low bid of $7.7 million was $1.3 million under the engineer’s estimate.

The two projects were added to the overlay program after quotes were received from the contractor.

Earlier this year, the board, on the recommendations of its Public Works Committee, approved a professional services agreement with the Hakanson Anderson engineering firm in the amount of $24,810 for project design, preparing plans and specifications, bid letting and constructions administration, inspection and surveying of the fairgrounds improvement project, which was to include improvements to fairgrounds roads and parking lots.

But to get the overlay work done on the most heavily traveled roads in the fairgrounds before the opening of the 2012 Anoka County Fair, it was decided to take advantage of the dollars left available in the overlay program budget, according to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer.

The overlay project before the fair starts covers the west roads, A and B, and the South Road at the fairgrounds.

The cost is about $200,000, Fischer said.

The rest of the project will be handled under a separate contract, which is expected to be awarded by the county board at its July 24 meeting, Fischer said.

Work won’t start on that contract until after the fair is over; the last day is Sunday, July 29.

This project will include an overlay of a road in north part of the fairgrounds, which is not used by the public during the fair, and parking areas in the northeast portion of the fairgrounds, which are used for vendor, not public, parking during the fair, Fischer said.

The county is picking up the cost of the fairgrounds work, but not from the highway department budget, according to Fischer.

Instead, the money will come from funds left over from general obligation bonds sold for county road and bridge projects.

According to Cevin Petersen, county finance and central services director, the bond money is available because bids for a couple of recent county road projects came in under budget and the amount for which the bonds were sold.

But there is a requirement in the bond issues that any left-over money be used specifically for road and bridge projects, Petersen said.

The second addition to the overlay program was a section of Andover Boulevard (County Road 16) from University Avenue to Highway 65 at a cost of some $150,000.

The portion of Andover Boulevard from Hanson Boulevard to University Avenue was part of the original overlay project, according to Fischer.

“The section from University Avenue to Highway 65 was in much the same shape as the part from Hanson to University Avenue, so we decided to seize the opportunity,” Fischer said.

In fact, the overlay work has now been completed on both sections of Andover Boulevard, he said.

Fischer said he received verbal approval from Westerberg before the official board action so that the work on the two segments could be done at the same time.

But the portion of Andover Boulevard from University Avenue to Highway 65 has other issues that will have to be addressed in future years, including curbs, shoulders and a swampy area, according to Fischer.

But doing a simple overlay project now will mean the county has another four or five years before it will have to tackle the bigger project, Fischer said.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com