Construction of tunnel under Main Street nearly complete

Construction is nearly complete on the pedestrian tunnel under Main Street.

The tunnel work has been part of Anoka County’s contract with C.S. McCrossan for the reconstruction of Main Street.

The Coon Rapids City Council in December 2010 approved a joint powers agreement with the county for the tunnel project to be included in the Main Street work.

At that time the estimated cost of the tunnel was pegged at $293,000.

The cost has come in a little bit under the estimate at $287,538.77, which has meant that the county has asked the council to approve an amended joint powers agreement with the new cost, according to Public Services Director Tim Himmer.

The council approved the amended joint powers agreement Oct. 2.

The city received a $60,000 grant for the pedestrian tunnel from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The balance of the city’s cost share will come from its state aid street account, from which revenues are derived from the city’s state gas tax allocation.

The tunnel is located some 85 to 115 feet west of the west wall of the bridge over the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks, which has been built as part of the Main Street reconstruction project.

According to City Manager Steve Gatlin, the tunnel has been built through the bridge approach grade where retaining walls have been constructed on each side of the roadway.

The tunnel is ultimately designed to link the city’s trail system, Gatlin said.

“Right now, there are no trails for the tunnel to link, but Anoka County is seeking federal dollars to provide a north-south trail in the area,” he said.

However, the earliest a trail is likely to become a reality in the area is three to five years, Gatlin said.

As part of the Main Street reconstruction project, a pedestrian-bike trail has been constructed on the south side of Main Street from Crane to Ulysses streets.

Pedestrian-bike tunnels have previously been constructed to link trails in northern part of the city – one on Hanson Boulevard, north of Main Street, and the other under the railroad tracks to link the trail in the residential area north of Main Street and east of Hanson with Bunker Hills Regional Park.

Residents in the area north of Main Street spoke in favor of the Main Street tunnel because children in that area have to walk to and from Sand Creek Elementary School, which lies south of Main Street on Olive Street.

The amended joint powers agreement with the county approved by the council Oct. 2 also covers LED traffic signal lighting along the reconstructed Main Street.

According to Himmer, the city opted for LED lights rather than HPS (high pressure sodium) traffic signal lighting because of increased energy efficiency.

“The new LED lighting will save the city approximately 33 percent in energy and maintenance costs,” Himmer wrote in a report to the council.

Since LED lighting was already in place along the Main Street corridor, the city asked that the street lighting on the traffic signals be installed as part of the county’s Main Street contract and changed from HPS to LED, he wrote.

The amended joint powers agreement includes the $5,982.18 cost of making that change, according to Himmer.

This work will be paid for from the city’s state aid street funds as well.

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

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