Coon Rapids won’t pursue pedestrian trail project for Riverdale Station access

The Coon Rapids City Council is not interested in pursuing a southerly pedestrian access trial project from the Riverdale Station platform to and from the Wedgewood residential neighborhood.

The city has twice unsuccessfully applied for Metropolitan Council grant funding for the project.

According to Marc Nevinski, city community development director, while the Metropolitan Council denied funding both times because the grant request did not align closely enough with grant program criteria, staff has indicated support for the program.

In addition, in preliminary discussions with the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority, Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) and Metro Transit, which operates the Northstar Commuter Rail system, all believe the trail connection makes sense, Nevinksi wrote in his report to the council.

Nevinski recommended moving forward with planning and preliminary design work for the pedestrian access trail to and from the Riverdale Station using consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates.

“The addition of such a connection would provide several hundred households a much more direct route to the station,” Nevinski wrote in his report to the council.

“National studies suggest that homes with transit access have a higher value than homes without such access.”

According to Nevinski, it would improve access for some 1,200 households.

Under a proposed professional services agreement with Kimley-Horn costing $11,500 and with completion by August, Nevinski said the consultant would perform three functions.

• Prepare and complete a neighborhood and agency engagement process to propose the idea of the southerly connection and request input.

• Prepare a preliminary design based on input from the neighborhood and agencies.

• Identify potential project funding sources.

According to Nevinski, staff would request a separate proposal to prepare grants from identified sources most likely to contribute to the project.

Nevinski told the council that one of those potential funding sources was CTIB (Counties Transit Investment Board), which would pay up to 30 percent of the project cost.

CTIB was formed in April 2008 and comprises five counties – Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington – which use a quarter-cent sales tax and $20 a motor vehicle sales tax, permitted by the Legislature, to invest in and advance transit projects by awarding annual capital and operating grants.

But the council, noting that one home would have to be removed to make room for the trail, agreed at a work session earlier this month that the neighborhood needed to be involved before any decision is made to move ahead with the project.

“This is the wrong time to bring this up,” said Councilmember Paul Johnson.

“It will provide nothing but animosity unless we go to the neighborhood first.”

There was also doubt by councilmembers whether commuters would take advantage of the trail to walk to and from the station and concern that commuters would drive to the neighborhood streets to park and then walk to the station.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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