Andover is moving forward with preparing plans to reconstruct Nightingale Street from Crosstown Boulevard to 161st Avenue later this summer.
The Andover City Council Tuesday night on a 4-1 vote ordered the preparation of plans and specifications, which are necessary to share with prospective companies bidding on the project.
Councilmember Sheri Bukkila voted no because of her concern about an extended trail proposal.
The council will likely see the plans and specifications in April and choose whether to advertise for bids at that point. The schedule is for the council to award a bid at the May 21 meeting, according to City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz.
While Nightingale Street will still have two lanes in each direction, they will each be 11 feet wide instead of their current 12-foot width and the shoulders will be five feet wide instead of eight feet, according to Berkowitz. The reason for the reduced width is to make room for turn lanes throughout the project.
The city may be reconstructing the Crosstown Boulevard and Nightingale Street intersection at some point, but it will likely not happen this year. The city hired a consultant to study four intersections in the area, including this one, to find short-term and long-term solutions for improving the flow of traffic. The results from the study will not be in by the time Nightingale reconstruction plans move forward, according to Berkowitz.
The project would not start until school is out in June and it would mostly be done by the time school starts after Labor Day, although there may have to be some temporary lane closures through September, according to Berkowitz.
Residents ask for longer trail
The trail on the west side of Nightingale Street will remain, but the city will be constructing a trail on the east side from Crosstown Boulevard to at least 157th Lane.
Steve Peterson asked for the trail to be extended to 159th Lane and he said he collected 175 signatures from people who want this longer trail.
Berkowitz said the east side trail was not proposed to be extended north of 157th Lane because of the concern that this could be a costly segment with the wetlands in the area. The segment between 154th and 157th lanes may need a more expensive elevated boardwalk to get through a wetland, he said.
Peterson’s argument was the extended trail would enable about 250 additional residents to access it at 159th Lane instead of having to walk on a narrow shoulder for over a quarter of a mile.
Peterson lives one block east of Nightingale along 157th Lane, so the extended trail would not be as direct a benefit to him as it would be the residents to the north, he said.
The existing road sees a high amount of pedestrian and bike traffic from kids going to school, the Andover YMCA/Community Center and the ball fields and from families and many other adults, Peterson said.
The speed limit of Nightingale Street is 55 mph.
“As someone who does this for a living, plans trails and plans roadway projects, I know how important it is to have a safe trailway system,” Peterson said.
Peterson presented the council with a petition that he said included 175 signatures. While combing through it, Bukkila said that there were signatures from people who said they live in Coon Rapids or Big Lake and she did not see any addresses by the signatures.
Peterson said he did not include non-Andover residents in his count.
“I don’t think I can vote in favor of it tonight without seeing a price tag on it,” Bukkila said regarding the extended trail proposal.
Berkowitz said he could consult with the council on the potential costs of extending this trail to 159th Lane as the plans and specifications are finalized.
Councilmember Julie Trude expects to see more people turn to trails for recreation as the community ages. She anticipates the road will see vehicles going even faster when it is reconstructed, especially with the shoulders being narrower.
“It just seems like if we do nothing now, nothing is going to happen and tying an area of the community makes sense,” Trude said.
Jerry Saarenpaa of Deer River owns about 11 acres of property along Nightingale Street and is one of 13 parcel owners facing a $3,000 assessment.
Saarenpaa said that residents living near Nightingale Street that must use it to get anywhere should be assessed.
Mayor Mike Gamache said the city’s policy is to only assess those who have an address on a reconstructed road. Those other residents would face assessments when their roads are reconstructed.
For instance, Peterson would not pay the $3,000 assessment because he does not live along Nightingale Street.
Berkowitz said the city would pay for the trail if it is extended, however.
The project is estimated to cost $1,551,300, according to Berkowitz. The city normally covers 75 percent of road reconstruction costs and assesses the remaining 25 percent.
In situations where there are fewer residents or if the road sees higher traffic than typical city streets, the council has lowered the assessments. It did this for 157th Avenue east of Crosstown Boulevard/Prairie Road, Crosstown Drive between Bunker Lake and Crosstown boulevards and 133rd Avenue between Coon Creek and Hanson boulevards in recent years.
Berkowitz said $3,000 is a comparable amount to some of these other projects. The two residents on Andover’s side that front 133rd Avenue only paid about $1,500 each, but their lots are not as large as those along Nightingale Street.
When South Coon Creek Drive was reconstructed last year, residents in the rural area were assessed around $7,000, he said.
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com