Third chance to weigh in on University Avenue project

A third public information meeting on Anoka County’s planned reconstruction of University Avenue in Blaine and Coon Rapids has been scheduled.

It will take place at the Coon Rapids City Center, 11155 Robinson Drive N.W., Coon Rapids, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Matthew Parent (left), a planning project manager for Anoka County, answers questions on the University Avenue project posed by Brad Nelson of Coon Rapids and Dean Wagner of Blaine during an Aug. 29, 2012 open house at Blaine City Hall. File photo by Eric Hagen

Matthew Parent (left), a planning project manager for Anoka County, answers questions on the University Avenue project posed by Brad Nelson of Coon Rapids and Dean Wagner of Blaine during an Aug. 29, 2012 open house at Blaine City Hall. File photo by Eric Hagen

The proposed project will reconstruct University Avenue from 109th Avenue/Northdale Boulevard to just south of Main Street/125th Avenue, a 1.6-mile stretch.

The improvement include reconstruction of the present two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided road with concrete median, intersection improvements with dedicated turn lanes, concrete curb and gutter and construction of a pedestrian/bicycle trail on the west side (Coon Rapids) of University Avenue.

In addition, the bridge over Sand Creek will be reconstructed and there will be the installation of noise walls in some areas.

The project has a total estimated cost of $10.5 million, but the county has received a federal grant of $6.4 million to pay more than half the cost.

The remainder of the cost will be split between the county and the cities of Blaine and Coon Rapids.

According to Jason Orcutt, planning project manager, the county’s share is $3.5 million, Blaine’s $350,000 and Coon Rapids’ $275,000.

Construction is scheduled to take place in 2014 with the bulk of the project completed that year, but with some clean-up work spilling over to 2015, Orcutt said.

The purpose of the Feb. 12 meeting is to bring property owners up to date on the project, particularly on changes that have been made to the project design as a result of input from the previous public information meetings, he said.

As with the prior open house formats, the public will be able to view and discuss the project in an informal setting with county and city officials and the project consultant.

Maps, drawings and other information will be available for the public to browse at the open house.

According to Orcutt, the main changes that have been made in the project design are opening up access at some intersections, which had previously been proposed to be closed off by the median.

Intersection improvements under the revised design include:

• University Avenue/111th Avenue, realignment of the intersection so 111th Avenue from Coon Rapids and Blaine line up at University Avenue with traffic signals. They don’t right now.

• University Avenue/113th Avenue N.E., Blaine, full access intersection with potential traffic signal. This is the entry to Four Seasons Mobile Home Park in Blaine.

• University Avenue at 115th Avenue N.W. in Coon Rapids, right-in and right-out.

• University Avenue/117th Avenue, full access intersection with traffic signal.

• University Avenue/Morningside Memorial Gardens entrance in Coon Rapids, southbound right-in/right-out; northbound left-in.

• University Avenue/118th Avenue N.E. in Blaine, northbound right-in/right-out; southbound left-in.

• University Avenue/120th Avenue N.W. in Coon Rapids, southbound right-in/right-out; northbound left-in.

• University Avenue/120th Lane N.E. in Blaine, right-in/right-out.

• University Avenue/121st Avenue, full access intersection with traffic signal.

• University Avenue/124th Lane N.W. in Coon Rapids, right-in/right-out.

In December 2012, an open house took place for Blaine and Coon Rapids residents on possible noise wall locations.

Seven potential locations were identified along the project route and residents in each area were asked to vote on whether they wanted noise walls or not.

Once the votes were tallied Jan. 18, six of the seven noise wall locations received support from the residents affected, according to Orcutt.

Only residents in the townhouse development on the Coon Rapids side of University Avenue just north of the CVS Pharmacy at University Avenue and Northdale Boulevard voted against a noise wall at their location, Orcutt said.

Issues involving right of way acquisition and the possible taking of properties as well as project staging/road closures are still being discussed, according to Gina Pizzo, county engineering project manager.

In terms of right of way acquisition, there are homes in Blaine, just north of University and 109th that are very close to the road, Pizzo said.

It has not been determined yet whether those entire properties would have to be acquired, she said.

Meetings would take place with the homeowners before any decisions are made, Pizzo said.

As to project staging, the reconstruction could take place half and half to leave the road open during the work, according to Pizzo.

“But that adds time and cost to the project,” Pizzo said.

However, no decision has yet been made whether University Avenue would be closed during construction and if so, for how long, or whether there would only be lane closures, Pizzo said.

According to Orcutt, there will be formal public hearing in July or August on the environmental documentation required by the federal government as part of the grant.

This will be last segment of University Avenue from County Road 10 to Main Street/125th Avenue N.E. to be reconstructed to a four-lane highway with median.

Two previous projects reconstructed University Avenue from Northdale Boulevard/109th Avenue to County Road 10.

According to the Anoka County Highway Department website, University Avenue between 109th/Northdale and Main Street/125th averages 14,000 vehicles a day and it is estimated that traffic volumes by 2034 will range from 18,000 to 22,000 a day.

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

 
up arrow