A second open house planned for University Avenue project

A second public open house meeting on Anoka County’s plans to reconstruct University Avenue from County Road 10 to Main Street in Blaine and Coon Rapids has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at Blaine City Hall, 10801 Town Square Drive N.E.

According to Assistant Anoka County Engineer Andrew Witter, the date and location are expected to be confirmed in a few days.

The project, which begins at University Avenue’s intersection with 109th Avenue/Northdale Boulevard and ends just south of Main Street N.W./125th Avenue N.E., is the final leg in the reconstruction of University Avenue from County Road 10 north to Main Street.

Two prior projects in recent years upgraded University Avenue from 109th Avenue south to County Road 10.

At the first open house in February, residents on both the Coon Rapids and Blaine sides of University Avenue had issues with proposed loss of access from their residential streets as a result of the median, according to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer.

There were also access concerns raised by Morningside Memorial Gardens, the cemetery on the Coon Rapids side of University Avenue, and Park of Four Seasons, a manufactured home development on the Blaine side, Fischer said.

“No final design for the project has been completed,” he said.

“The open house is to gather more information. We want to be responsive.”

The Anoka County Board July 24 took action to authorize the preparation of a highway right of way plat for the reconstruction project. The plat will encompass 121 parcels on either side of University Avenue that could be impacted by the project.

The plat will determine the right of way that needs to be acquired for the project and how many parcels will be affected, according to Fischer. “It does not mean that right of way will be required from all 121 parcels,” Fischer said.

Some parcels might not be impacted at all, while on others the county may only need temporary easements to use the property while construction is taking place, he said.

However, some residents who will be impacted on the Coon Rapids side of University Avenue made their displeasure clear at a city of Coon Rapids Summer in the City program at Burl Oak Park July 24.

According to information provided to the county board, the project has received $6,364,800 in federal funds.

The engineer’s total project cost estimate is $7,964,800, with construction scheduled to take place in 2014.

There will be cost sharing by the cities of Blaine and Coon Rapids, Fischer said.

The project will construct 1.854 miles of University Avenue from an existing two-lane road to a four-lane roadway with a center concrete median, shoulders, turn lane, trail and traffic signal.

The traffic signal at 111th Avenue will be reconstructed to connect with 111th Lane and provide a single access point.

In addition, the existing traffic signals at 117th and 125th avenues will be reconstructed to accommodate two through lanes of traffic.

The county board has retained WSB & Associates to design the road project as well as for bridge design services.

As part of the project, the bridge over Sand Creek will be replaced as well as an existing 88-inch span reinforced concrete elliptical pipe at the crossing of County Ditch 39.

At the county board’s July 24 meeting when the right of way plat was authorized for the project, County Commissioner Jim Kordiak asked if University Avenue would be closed to traffic during construction.

While no final decision had been made, Fischer doubted that the road would be shut down, given the access issues that would create for the cemetery, the manufactured home park as well as Northdale Middle School and Blaine High School, he said.

According to the county highway department web page on the project, the road upgrade is needed to accommodate existing and future transportation needs.

Currently, University Avenue averages 14,000 vehicles a day, but the county estimates that traffic volumes in the corridor by 2034 will range from 18,000 and 22,000 vehicles a day, the web page information states.