Public hearing set for reconstruction of Andover’s Nightingale

The Andover City Council Jan. 15 unanimously accepted the feasibility report for the Nightingale Street reconstruction project and set a public hearing date.

Left- and right-turn lanes will be constructed along Nightingale Street when it is reconstructed from Crosstown Boulevard to 161st Avenue this summer. File photo by Eric Hagen
Left- and right-turn lanes will be constructed along Nightingale Street when it is reconstructed from Crosstown Boulevard to 161st Avenue this summer. File photo by Eric Hagen

The city is tentatively planning to reconstruct Nightingale Street from Crosstown Boulevard to 161st Avenue this summer. A public hearing will be held at the Feb. 19 council meeting.

Besides smoothing out the surface of the road, new left- and right-turn lanes will be added at select intersections, existing culverts will be replaced and an off-street trail on the east side will be constructed from Crosstown to 157th Lane, according to City Engineer and Public Works Director David Berkowitz.

The preliminary cost estimate for this project is $1,551,300, Berkowitz reported in his staff memo to the council. There are 13 parcels in the project area that could each face a $3,000 assessment.

The city’s normal policy is to cover 75 percent of road reconstruction costs while property owners pay 25 percent, but the feasibility report recommends these 13 parcels contribute a total of approximately 2.5 percent or $39,000.

“With this project there are a limited number of properties fronting the improvements so assessing 25 percent of those costs is not feasible,” Berkowitz wrote in his report.

Crosstown/Nightingale intersection

The intersection of Crosstown Boulevard and Nightingale Street and nearby intersections were discussed at a late September workshop last year.

Councilmember Mike Knight said the Crosstown Boulevard and Nightingale Street intersection is one of the worst in the city because it is so difficult to turn left from Nightingale onto Crosstown so people are “playing chicken a lot.”

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Knight asked Berkowitz whether intersection improvements were included in the Nightingale Street reconstruction project.

This intersection is not included in the feasibility report. Berkowitz said the city hired Bolton and Menk for $5,500 to study the Crosstown-Nightingale, Andover-Crosstown, Andover-Hanson and Crosstown-Hanson intersections and the internal traffic flow of the Andover High School parking lot.

The high school, Andover Elementary School, Oak View Middle School, the Andover YMCA/Community Center, Andover City Hall, Sunshine Park and various businesses and homes are located near these intersections.

The council previously authorized city staff to seek requests for proposal for a traffic engineer consultant to analyze all possible solutions to improve traffic flow at a few intersections in the civic heart of the community.

Berkowitz told ABC Newspapers that the consultant’s study will take up to three months and that it was critical to start the reconstruction of Nightingale as soon as school is out.

“Depending on what the findings are for the intersection the city cannot risk a delay in the starting date due to the importance of getting Nightingale Street opened before the first day of school,” Berkowitz said.

One idea the council discussed at its council workshop meeting in September 2012 was a roundabout at the Crosstown-Nightingale intersection. Jerry Saarenpaa of Deer River owns a parcel in the project area and wrote a letter to the city saying he did not believe a roundabout was a practical solution for this intersection.

Saarenpaa’s concerns were that the roundabouts he has seen in Minnesota are smaller than the ones he has seen or used in Europe, the east coast and Washington.

He said smaller roundabouts would be difficult to navigate for school buses, snow plow trucks, emergency vehicles, motor homes, people with trucks or larger cars pulling a boat or camper, delivery trucks and so on.

Saarenpaa was also concerned about how well the traffic would flow through a roundabout and that the cost of this type of intersection would be higher.

“Traffic light and turn lanes are the better option,” Saarenpaa wrote.

Assistant City Engineer Jason Law wrote in a response letter to Saarenpaa that possible solutions mentioned in the Nov. 19, 2012 letter sent to residents in the project area included a roundabout, traffic signal and turn lane extensions.

Nothing at this time is specifically planned, he wrote.

What’s next?

After the Feb. 19 public hearing, the council could choose to authorize that plans and specifications for the project be completed, which is a document that gives prospective contractors specifics on what the city is looking for before they would submit a bid to the city.

The council April 16 could approve this document and authorize city staff to advertise for bids, but Berkowitz wrote in his report that this timeline depends on how long it takes Anoka County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to review the proposed project.

Anoka County owns Crosstown Boulevard and Nightingale Street is one of the roads on which the city receives state aid so certain design criteria needs to be met.

Assuming the timeline stays the same, the council could award a contract May 7 and the contractor could begin work in early to mid-June. The project could be “substantially completed” by the end of August and totally completed by mid-September.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]