The Anoka City Council approved plans for street reconstruction as the city heads into a new neighborhood this year.
Being reconstructed this summer are Eighth Avenue (from Jefferson Street to Monroe Street) along with Cross and Madison streets (from Seventh Avenue to Ninth Avenue), according to Public Services Director Greg Lee.
This will include the total reconstruction of the streets and any existing sidewalks along with the replacement of underground water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer infrastructure.
The city is now advertising for bids on the $1.7 million project, with a construction estimate of $1.3 million.
The council will review those bids April 15, when it will likely award a construction contract.
After wrapping up work in the southeast corner of the city, near the Mississippi River, Anoka is now focusing on a new grid of streets that need to be improved.
Councilmember Jeff Weaver said Anoka has been fortunate to avoid major water main breaks that have been experienced in neighboring cities.
Once the six-year project is complete, Lee said the department is eyeing the Slabtown neighborhood, west of Ferry Street and north of Highway 10, for its next focused efforts.
He said the city would know for sure a year from now, when the five-year plan is updated.
Street renewal is currently on a 70-year program in Anoka.
But even at that rate, many neighborhoods are already in real need of repairs.
Weaver asked about streets like 10th and 11th avenues, in need of repair but not on the reconstruction schedule for quite a while.
Lee said these roads would be patched and band-aided until they are rebuilt.
“We’ll try to hold those streets together as best we can,” said Lee. “But it’s going to be hard to hold them together until 2019.”
Weaver suggested maybe it was time for the city to look at expanding its street renewal program.
“It puts it back on our shoulders to see if we can get it going faster,” Weaver said.
In the past City Manager Tim Cruikshank has pointed out the amount of street renewal done each year is a direct result of budget available to fund the project. Going beyond that budget would require the city to either bond to pay for streets or charge higher assessments.
Mayor Phil Rice said an option would be to look at the city’s aggressive mill and overlay program, which targets streets which are in need of surface improvements but the infrastructure underneath is fine.
“We’ve been aggressive but we’re playing catch-up,” said Rice. “Many of our streets are in dire need.”
This expanded program has largely been funded by excess revenues from the city-owned electric utility.
“Instead we could look at helping neighborhoods that don’t have as much to work with,” Rice said.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at email@example.com