Proposed Foley project draws county board comments

Resident concerns over Anoka County’s plans to reconstruct a portion of Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids brought comments from two Anoka County Board members at the Aug. 28 board meeting.

The board, on the recommendation of its Public Works Committee, authorized preparation of a highway right of way plat for the reconstruction of Foley from 101st Avenue, which is just north of Highway 10, to Egret Boulevard.

According to information provided to the board by the Anoka County Highway Department, the plat will affect 53 parcels. Creating the right of way plat will facilitate the acquisition process, the board was told.

According to Assistant County Engineer Andrew Witter, not all the 53 parcels included in the plat will require property acquisition or easements, but it is likely that a few entire properties will be taken.

Many residents attending an open house on the project Aug. 23 were unhappy about the preliminary design plan that showed some residential streets losing their access to Foley.

Guy Wheelock, for one, presented a petition to county officials, containing 48 signatures of people opposing the proposed closing of 106th Avenue at Foley.

Anoka County Commissioner Carol LeDoux, who represents the area, wanted the highway department to “move cautiously” on the project because of the concerns of the residents.

She asked the department to provide recent accident figures for that segment of Foley, not numbers that are five years old.

According to LeDoux, residents have told her that the congestion and accident problems on Foley result from the two lanes of traffic in the area from 101st to Egret becoming one lane north of the Egret-Foley intersection.

Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah said she, too, had been approached by residents with concerns, specifically access issues. “We need to be responsive to the needs of residents and businesses so the impact is not a negative one,” she said.

Anoka County Commissioner Andy Westerberg, chairman of the Public Works Committee, which recommended the approval of the right of way plan preparation, said it was just one step in the process. “We are not finalizing the project at this time,” he said.

According to Witter, the comments and concerns received from residents would be taken into consideration as the highway department develops the final design for the project.

In addition, a second open house for residents will be scheduled early in 2013, Witter said. “We are committed to working with residents,” he said.

But the project was needed because of congestion and a high accident rate, Witter said.

The county has received $2.4 million in federal dollars to help pay for the project that has an estimated cost of $2.9 million.

Scheduled for construction in 2014, the project will turn the existing four-lane undivided roadway with no shoulders and few turn lanes to a four-lane road with a concrete median, left- and right-turn lanes, standard shoulders, sidewalk and bike trail and storm sewer improvements.

According to Witter, federal funding has recently been received to reconstruct Foley, north from Egret to Northdale. With $2,998,000 in federal dollars contributing toward the $3,735,000 estimated cost, that project on Foley north of the Egret intersection is scheduled for reconstruction in 2015-2016.

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

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