County board approves Highway 65-221st signal bid

The Anoka County Board Aug. 14 unanimously approved a bid for the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 65 and 221st Avenue in East Bethel later this fall.

The low bid of $916,202.77 was submitted by Forest Lake Contracting, Inc. Knife River Corporation and North Valley, Inc. also submitted bids, which were all under the engineer’s estimate of $1,040,241.05.

According to a staff report from the Anoka County Highway Department, work will begin this fall as soon as the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) completes its road resurfacing project in this area. MnDOT is resurfacing Highway 65 between 217th Avenue to the Isanti County border at 245th Avenue.

There is currently a temporary traffic signal at Highway 65-221st Avenue to assist traffic flow during this MnDOT project.

Besides a new traffic signal, 221st Avenue is being widened to handle additional turn lanes. On both westbound and eastbound 221st Avenue at Highway 65 there will be separate lanes for traffic going straight, traffic turning left and traffic turning right. MnDOT during its resurfacing project also lengthened the left and right turn lanes for Highway 65 vehicles going to 221st Avenue.

Federal funds are actually covering approximately 90 percent of the costs ($824,582.49) thanks to a grant secured by the highway department. The remaining 10 percent is being covered by Anoka County (76,409.46) and the city of East Bethel (15,210.81).

In addition, the county is paying $61,127.57 for construction engineering while the city is chipping in $12,168.65.

Accounting for construction engineering and construction costs, Anoka County’s contribution for this traffic signal and turn lane improvement project is $137,537.04 while East Bethel is chipping in $27,379.46. These local costs are eligible for state aid funds, however.

The county highway department enabled this project to happen this year rather than 2014 when the federal funds become available by utilizing savings from other projects to cover the federal share for now.

A previous analysis showed that this intersection was the sixth most dangerous in the state from January 2008 through December 2010 when accounting for frequency and severity of crashes. Jason Orcutt, an engineering design supervisor with the county highway department, previously said the benefit of a signal is it reduces the severity of the crashes significantly.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]