Residents turn out for Foley project meeting

Coon Rapids residents impacted by Anoka County’s proposal to reconstruct a segment of Foley Boulevard from 101st Avenue to Egret Boulevard jammed the Coon Rapids City Center council chambers Feb. 11 for a two-hour information meeting/open house.

Tim Himmer, Coon Rapids public works director, talks with residents about the proposed detour route while reconstruction of Foley Boulevard from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard takes place in 2014.
Tim Himmer, Coon Rapids public works director, talks with residents about the proposed detour route while reconstruction of Foley Boulevard from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard takes place in 2014.

This was the second open house the county highway department has hosted on the project, which is scheduled for construction in 2014.

And residents raised many of the same concerns that were expressed at the first open house in August 2012 – access issues and right of way taking, among them.

No formal presentation was made, but Anoka County and city of Coon Rapids staff received comments, both written and verbal from affected residents – some of them quite pointed.

“It was a very active open house,” said Curt Kobilarcsik, county engineering program manager. “I was very impressed by the showing. The number of people there show they care and we got some good feedback.”

The Anoka County Board at its meeting Feb. 12 approved a resolution authorizing the acquisition of right of way for the project, which covers 0.7 of a mile.

According to information provided to the county board, 53 parcels will be impacted by county right of way acquisition.

At this point, three homes are expected to be taken for the project, Kobilarcsik said.

In addition, the Anoka County Board’s Public Works Committee has authorized negotiations with the city of Coon Rapids to finalize a joint powers agreement which will spell out the scope of the project, cost sharing and access at the intersections.

Both the Coon Rapids City Council and the Anoka County Board have to approve the joint powers agreement before the project can be constructed.

Right now, this segment of Foley has two lanes in each direction, no medians, access from all residential side streets and carries a high volume of traffic.

The project will involve construction of a four-lane section with dedicated left- and right-turn lanes and a center median.

In addition, the existing traffic signals on Foley at the 101st Avenue and Egret Boulevard intersections will be replaced, shoulders will be added, there will be curb and gutter installed, storm sewer work, retaining walls will be built where needed and a trail will be constructed on the other side of Foley from the existing sidewalk.

The existing sidewalk will be extended from where it ends north of Aspen Park and the Coon Rapids Post Office to 101st Avenue as part of the project, Kobilarcsik said.

The county has received federal funding totaling $2.2 million for the project, which has an estimated cost of $3 million.

The balance will come from the county, $675,000, and the city, $115,000, which will be taken from the city’s state aid street account.

Access from some of the side streets will be eliminated as a result of the project.

According to Kobilarcsik, it is likely that a new traffic signal will be installed at the 102nd Lane intersection with Foley (the entrance to the Coon Rapids Post Office and Aspen Park, which has the Central Little League baseball fields).

The original plan showed a full access intersection, but with stop signs halting traffic on 102nd Lane, Kobilarcsik said.

Under the proposed joint powers agreement, there will also be full access intersections on Foley at 101st Avenue (traffic signal), 105th Avenue (side street stop control) and at Egret (traffic signal).

But the other existing intersections of the residential streets with Foley will be limited or eliminated completely.

• Foley and 102nd Avenue: right-in and right-out only.

• Foley and 103rd Avenue: no access.

• Foley and 104th Avenue: right-in and right-out only.

• Foley and 104th Lane: no access.

• Foley and 105th Lane: right-in and right-out only on the east leg and closed on the west leg of the intersection.

• Foley and 106th Avenue: no access.

At the first meeting, the plan to have no access at 106th Avenue and Foley Boulevard produced a petition, but only a couple of residents were at last week’s open house to object to 106th Avenue being closed, Kobilarcsik said.

It was the loss of access at the 102nd Avenue intersection with Foley that brought Steve Rice to the open house.

Right now there is full access, but under the county plans the reconstruction project would limit access to right-in and right-out at 102nd Avenue.

Rice is a partner in the commercial/office building at the intersection and told county officials that there should be at least one left-turn movement allowed for traffic to make a left turn from Foley on to 102nd, he said.

Without any left-turn movement, people working at the building and clients/customers using it would have to drive behind the Coon Rapids Post Office to reach 102nd Lane, which will continue to have full access with a stop sign on 102nd, according to Rice.

Residents on 106th Avenue, which would no longer have access to Foley with the closure of that intersection, presented a petition opposing the closure at the August open house and some of them were back Feb. 11 to continue their objections.

Other residents had issues with proposed right of way acquisition.

John Queck, who lives in a cul de sac at 104th and Goldenrod, was one of them.

His yard backs up to Foley and he stands to lose 15 to 20 feet off the back of his yard for a pond that the county will be constructing as part of the project, according to Queck.

“They will be taking down trees in my yard along Foley,” Queck said.

In fact, Queck does not believe there is a need for the project in the first place, he said.

There is no safety issue on that stretch of Foley; the accidents take place on Foley at its intersections with Highway 10 and Egret Boulevard, said Queck, who has lived in his home for 27 years.

Other residents did not think there was a need for a trail when there is already a sidewalk on one side of Foley.

During construction, two lanes of traffic will remain open to traffic on Foley from 101st to Egret and it will always be open to local traffic.

Final design on the project is expected to be completed this coming spring with construction earmarked for 2014.

The county has also received federal funding for a project to reconstruct Foley from Egret to Northdale boulevards.

Plans are to reconstruct this segment of Foley in 2015, according to Doug Fischer, county highway director.

This project will be more extensive because Foley is currently a single lane in each direction from Egret to Northdale and the upgrade would be to two lanes in each direction with a median that would limit access from residential streets, Fischer said.

In addition, plans are to reconfigure and straighten out the Foley and Northdale boulevards intersection, he said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]