Anoka awards $8.6 million ramp contract

Construction will start next month on a 344-stall parking ramp at the Anoka Northstar Rail Station.

The Anoka City Council Monday awarded a contract to Sheehy Construction Company for more than $8.6 million.

The three-level ramp will be built on the south surface parking lot at the corner of Pierce Street and Fourth Avenue and will include a pedestrian overpass.

Four bids were submitted on the project, with Sheehy’s coming in 5 percent below the engineer’s estimate, according to Greg Lee, public services director and city engineer.

“The project costs and project funding match up perfectly for a project of this size,” said Lee. The budget includes a 5 percent contingency for unforeseen costs.

Along with construction, costs also will include $50,000 for railroad liability insurance, $50,473 for Metropolitan Council staff time costs, $1.2 million in engineering and design, for a total of $9.9 million. Along with the contingency the overall budget is $10,413,585.

The bulk of the ramp’s costs will be paid for with a $5.85 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant the city received from the federal government back in 2005.

Anoka will pay for about 20 percent of the project, or $1.9 million. The funding for the city’s share will come from TIF revenues from the district created around the rail station.

With The Homestead of Anoka already in place, this district is already producing enough revenue to cover the city’s tab for the parking ramp.

Also contributing will be the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority with $575,000. A Counties Transportation Improvement Board (CTIB) grant of $2 million has also been secured.

While the city will own the ramp, it will be operated and maintained by the Metropolitan Council, via Metro Transit.

A ceremonial ground breaking is tentatively planned for Thursday, May 2.

A temporary parking lot will need to be built north of Johnson Street for overflow while the ramp is under construction.

Lee said based on current use of the surface lots, the overflow lot will see light use of about 20 to 50 vehicles a day. This lot will not be paved.

Getting the project to construction has involved nearly every level of government in the state, said City Manager Tim Cruikshank.

Once the ramp is built on the south side of the station, it will make way for more new development in the area.

“This frees up a key piece of property for redevelopment – that’s the north side lot,” said Cruikshank.

The city aims to get as much publicly owned property as possible back on the tax rolls. Anoka has long-term development plans for a mix of new residential, commercial and retail properties in the area surrounding the station.

He said the ramp and overpass will also provide a safer way for pedestrians to cross the railroad tracks.

The Anoka ramp is also planned to have a historic design and won’t look like a typical parking ramp.

“When riders pull up there they won’t need to see an Anoka sign,” said Cruikshank. “They will see the ramp and know they are in Anoka.”

History

The city was awarded the CMAQ grant back in 2005. But at the time it would have required an additional $5 million investment from Anoka to build the ramp that at one time was projected to cost $12 million.

“It wasn’t long ago we were the ‘no heck no’ council,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

But with other funding sources and driving down the overall cost of the ramp, the city council eventually got on board.

The city was able to get an extension on the grant, giving time for Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look to get involved. Look was instrumental in securing both the rail authority and CTIB funding.

“I’ve been torn between yes and no on this project,” said Councilmember Mark Freeburg.

He thought $5 million was too much for the city to swallow. But now with TIF revenues in place and other funding sources, he has supported the construction of the ramp.

“Any other development that comes into place… will just be gravy,” said Freeburg.

Construction of the ramp is expected to be substantially complete by December, with all finishing work done during the summer of 2014.

Councilmember Steve Schmidt abstained from the vote for the contract award. Schmidt owns property in the vicinity of the future ramp and has not taken part in any of the discussion or decision making on the area around the rail station.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at editor.anokaunion@ecm-inc.com

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