Coon Rapids seeks DNR grants for three trail projects

Three grant requests have been made by the Coon Rapids City Council to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

One is for a trail through Wilderness Park from the Main Street pedestrian tunnel to 121st Avenue N.W., the second is a pedestrian signal on Northdale Boulevard at Sand Creek Park and the third is for the 85th Avenue N.W. trail from East River Road to the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad tracks.

The applications are being made to the DNR’s 2013 trail grant program and if any or all are approved, then construction would take place in 2014.

The proposed trail through Wilderness Park would connect the Bunker Hills Regional Park trail north of the Main Street tunnel south through the park to 121st Avenue near Fire Station 2, according to Project Manager Dave Full.

Last year, the city built a tunnel under Main Street as part of Anoka County’s project reconstructing Main Street to provide a safe crossing, Full wrote in a report to the council.

“The high speeds and volumes of traffic on Main Street create a dangerous area for pedestrians to cross,” he wrote.

“The proposed connection through Wilderness Park would continue a safe route for pedestrians to and from the Bunker Hills Regional Park.”

Last month the council authorized staff to apply for a state grant for the same trail project through the state’s safe routes to schools grant program.

Staff is also applying for funds through the DNR grant program to secure successful funding for this project, according to Full.

The preliminary cost estimate for this trail is $130,680.

“The actual cost to the city will be determined based on approved grant funding,” Full wrote.

The pedestrian crosswalk signal on Northdale at Sand Creek Park would involve the placement of push-button activated crossing signals.

According to Full, when pedestrians push the button, the traffic light will first flash yellow, then it will go to steady yellow and finally to a solid red to stop the traffic.

“Pedestrians will have their own signs which visibly countdown the available time in the crosswalk and the city will be able to identify the appropriate duration of the signal, between five and 60 seconds in five-second increments,” Full wrote in his report to the council.

“Once the time has elapsed, the traffic light will turn off completely.”

In addition to the traffic signal, crossing enhancements will include the painting of both a crosswalk and the word “Stop” on the traffic lanes, Full wrote.

Two pedestrian crossing signs will be installed for each direction, one to warn drivers of the upcoming pedestrian crossing and the other at the crossing itself, he wrote.

Last year the city installed a Hawk Flasher System on Round Lake Boulevard for pedestrians crossing from the Wedgewood Trail and it has worked very well controlling pedestrian traffic, according to Full.

The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $30,000 and the cost to the city will be determined based on the grant funding.

This will be the third time that the city has applied for a DNR trail grant for the 85th Avenue project.

“We have been close both times and the DNR has encouraged us to apply again,” Full said.

“We hope that it’s third time a charm.”

The proposed trail on the south side of 85th (County Road 132) would connect the existing trail along Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley to East River Road.

According to Full, both the county highway and parks departments support the trail project.

If the grant is awarded then the city would construct the project in 2014. It has an estimated price tag of $280,000.

Cost sharing with the county highway department will also be pursued, Full told the council.

“The city could also complete the trail through Kennedy Park and connect the trail system to the Mississippi Regional Trail to the west,” he wrote.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]