Proposed Foley Boulevard project draws crowd

People packed the Coon Rapids City Council chambers at the Coon Rapids Civic Center Aug. 23 at the start of an Anoka County Highway Department open house on its proposed project to reconstruct a portion of Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids.

Resident John Fox (left) speaks with Assistant Anoka County Engineer Andrew Witter about the proposed Foley Boulevard reconstruction project from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard.
Resident John Fox (left) speaks with Assistant Anoka County Engineer Andrew Witter about the proposed Foley Boulevard reconstruction project from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard.

Residents living in the neighborhood of the project, which runs from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard, received individual notices from the highway department inviting them to the two-hour open house.

“People generally come at the start of these meetings,” said Coon Rapids City Engineer Doug Vierzba, who attended the meeting.

“However, the numbers petered out toward the end of the open house.”

Maps showing the preliminary design, which includes closing of some of the residential streets intersections with Foley on that stretch, were available for residents to look at and comment on, both verbally and in writing on cards that were made available by the county highway department.

The verbal and written comments from the meeting will be summarized and published on the county website for public viewing.

There was concern from many people, and in some cases outright opposition, to the proposed closing of some residential streets’ intersections with Foley.

Guy Wheelock, who lives on 106th Avenue, east of Foley, was one of them.

He handed a petition with 48 signatures to county highway department officials objecting to the closing of the Foley intersection with 106th Avenue.

Only six residents he spoke to as he circulated the petition on 106th, Dogwood and Goldenrod streets refused to sign, Wheelock said.

Wheelock has lived at his home for 30 years, he said. “If I had wanted to live on a cul-de-sac, I would have done so 30 years ago,” Wheelock said.

Nor did he think that the project would reduce congestion and accidents as the county is suggesting, according to Wheelock.

“People are driving 50 and 60 miles an hour; that’s what is causing the accidents,” Wheelock said.

The county has received federal funding to pay for most of the upgrade of this section of Foley, which is less than a mile in length and is scheduled for construction in 2014.

The estimated cost of the work is $2.9 million and the federal grant will contribute $2.4 million, according to County Highway Engineer Doug Fischer.

Right now, this segment of Foley has two lanes in each direction, no medians, access from all residential side streets and carries a high volume of traffic.

Under the preliminary design on display at the open house, there will be construction of dedicated left- and right-turn lanes, a center median, replacement of the existing traffic signals at 101st Avenue and Egret Boulevard, adding shoulders, reconstruction of a sidewalk and construction of a bike/pedestrian trail.

No one rides their bikes on Foley, Wheelock said.

According to the preliminary layout map on the county highway department website, there will be full access intersections at 101st Avenue, 102nd Lane, 105th Avenue and at Egret.

But 102nd Avenue will be limited to right-in and right-out, so will 104th Avenue.

And there will be no access to Foley from 104th Lane, 105th Lane and 106th Avenue, which will become cul-de-sacs.

John Fox, who lives on 109th Lane off Foley was happy to see the county’s proposal to reconstruct the road.

While he lives north of this project, Fox said the entire stretch of Foley needs to be upgraded because of the damage done by truck traffic.

The stretch of Foley where Fox lives from Egret to Northdale boulevards is slated for reconstruction in 2015-2016.

The county recently received federal dollars totaling $2,998,000 for the project which has an estimated price tag of $3,735,000.

That project would also create a four-lane divided roadway with trails, sidewalks, drainage ponds, signal lights and dedicated turn lane.

“I am looking forward to this getting done,” Fox said.

Once both Foley projects are completed, there will be bike/pedestrian trails all the way to Bunker Hills Regional Park since there is also a bike lane and sidewalk on Foley, north of Northdale, Vierzba said.

According to Andrew Witter, assistant county highway engineer, this was the first time that residents had seen a plan for the upgrade of Foley and as happens with change, it did generate some consternation, but there were others who were quite pleased with what is being proposed.

“This was an initial reaction and we will take what we heard, redefine the design and make some tweaks,” Witter said.

A second public open house to unveil the updated project design will take place in early 2013, he said.

The Anoka County Board Tuesday, on the recommendation of its Public Works Committee, authorized the preparation of a highway right of way plat for the project.

According to information provided to the county board, the reconstruction project is expected to impact 53 parcels where right of way acquisition for the project could potentially take place.

There were questions from residents at the open house Aug. 23 about how much of their property would be taken because of the project, Witter said.

Right now, all of three or four properties could be taken for the project, but that could change as the design work continues and there would likely be more definitive answers on property acquisition at the second open house, according to Witter.

A technical advisory committee comprising engineering staff from the county and the city of Coon Rapids, as well as the consultant retained by the county to do the environmental work, has been and will continue to meet monthly on the project, while technical staff from local, regional, state and federal agencies have been scheduling agency coordination meetings.

Comments or questions on the project should be sent to Matthew Parent, county highway department planning project manager, at [email protected] or by calling 763-862-4291.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]

  • Guy Wheelock

    There is a quote that says “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and
    expecting different results”

    Most of the accidents shown on the map (at the project meeting) were either on
    101st & Foley or Egret & Foley – the two STOP LIGHTS. Since neither of these will
    be altered; there will still be the same number of crashes. The county is planning

    I consider this insane.

    • Adam Byam

      Nobody rides bike on Foley? hmmm, I’ll sit in my back yard this week and post pictures of every one I see on a bike and on Foley. Quit whining Mr. no Change. And for the record, Cul de sacs increase home values due to safety, but you don’t care much for families in the neighborhoods or child safety on side streets because it has to be your way.

      • Guy Wheelock

        So where are the pictures? And why do YOU want to screw up the neighborhood that I have been happy with for THIRTY YEARS. Cul de sacs REDUCE the ability of fire & rescue vehicles to access an area & thus REDUCE safety. Reducing access to thru fares INCREASES the traffic on the side streets … which is where the kids DO play & ride their bikes…

  • Renee Chambard

    I can appreciate Mr. Wheelock’s concern and frustration but I can only imagine how much traffic has increased on Foley in the past 30 years. I’ve only lived in Coon Rapids for 13 years but it seems the traffic on Foley has increased many times over in that time period. I doubt Foley was designed for the level of traffic driven on it today. Maybe people don’t ride their bikes on Foley is because it’s too dangerous and not because they don’t want to or need to. Change is always difficult but something needs to be done (especially getting to and from the Post Office!) and no matter what they come up with there will be some unhappy people. We need safe streets in good condition that are able to handle the level of traffic driven on them. There is a saying that goes “if you pray for rain be prepared to deal with the mud.” If we need improved streets we may have to deal with the changes whether we like it or not.

  • Concerned Homeowner

    I can identify with Mr. Wheelock’s concerns. Any crashes I have witnessed have been in and around the intersection of Foley and Egret Boulevards. There are no left turn arrows at the intersection of Foley and Northdale, which, in my opinion, is why traffic backs up on Foley Blvd. if the traffic signals were addressed, I feel though a lot of the problems would be alleviated without spending 6 million dollars on less than 2 miles of roadway. As a homeowner with a driveway on Foley Blvd, I feel that these “improvements” will make it more dangerous to get in and out of my own driveway, on top of the fact that a two-lane divided highway will be 30 feet closer to, or rather right out of, my front door. I understand things for the better good of the public but there has to be a better way!

  • Impacted resident

    I live on Foley blvd in the impacted area – I can attest that nobody is riding bikes on the west side of Foley (area of proposed bike trail) – with the exception of my family. There is an existing sidewalk in this area that could be used if people were really going to use the trail (we are happy with the sidewalk for our rides). There is no indication that the proposed bike path will be used any more than the existing and adequate sidewalk. Why take property for a path when there is no indication it will be used any more than the existing sidewalk?