County pushes back Foley Boulevard project to 2016

Anoka County has pushed back from 2015 to 2016 a project to reconstruct Foley Boulevard from Egret to Northdale boulevards in Coon Rapids.

The 0.9-mile project will reconstruct the existing two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided road with a center concrete median and dedicated left- and right-turn lanes at full access intersections, much like the project scheduled for construction in 2014 to upgrade Foley from 101st Avenue to Egret.

The project from Egret to Northdale is also proposed to provide a trail on one side of the road and replace the existing sidewalk on the other side.

But like the reconstruction of Foley from 101st to Egret, this project will involve access closures from some residential streets onto Foley.

Federal funding has been awarded to the county to pay for part of the project cost, and preliminary design work is under way.

In addition, a consulting firm has been hired by the county to complete environmental documentation, which is required because of the federal funding.

The design and engineering for the project itself is being handled in-house by the county highway department.

Part of the design work involves looking at options for realigning the intersection at Foley and Northdale.

County highway officials met with the Coon Rapids City Council Sept. 10 at a work session to present three very preliminary design alternatives for the intersection.

According to Matt Brown, city community development specialist, the current configuration of the intersection has sharp turns and poor visibility.

The preliminary design options being considered for the intersection are a realigned signalized intersection, a roundabout and a status quo with no realignment, but with widening and a right-turn bypass lane.

All three alternatives would involve acquisition of property, Brown said.

Brown listed the impacts of the options in a report to the council.

• The realigned intersection with a new set of traffic signals would require the acquisition of three parcels – 380 Northdale Blvd. (gas station), 11401 Foley Blvd. (auto repair) and 325 Northdale Blvd. (hair salon/tattoo shop).

• Roundabout – acquisition of the gas station and auto repair properties.

• No realignment but with right-turn bypass – gas station parcel acquisition.

According to Brown, the county also presented a couple of other roundabout options, one more extensive and costly and the other a scaled back version.

The council did not remove any of the options under consideration from the table, Brown said.

But councilmembers did raise concerns about the impact a roundabout would have on pedestrian traffic in the area given the proximity of Northdale Shopping Center and two schools, Northdale Middle School and Eisenhower Elementary School, he said.

If a roundabout ends up being the preferred alternative, it would be the first to be constructed in Coon Rapids.

According to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer and division manager for transportation, roundabouts do have impacts on pedestrian traffic and in the area of the intersection, there are not only schools, but also convenience stores and fast-food restaurants, which attract foot traffic.

The most desirable intersection alternative at this point appears to be some realignment of the east leg of the intersection, although this will have some property impact.

Before the project can move forward, both the Anoka County Board and the city council have to approve a joint powers agreement, which spells out the details of the project and the cost sharing.

As the project design work moves forward, the county will be scheduling public open houses for impacted property owners to get their comments on what it being proposed.

No date has yet been set for the first open house.

But it is likely to take place in the spring of 2014, Fischer said.

According to the preliminary design on the county highway department website, only two full access intersections would remain in place – at 109th Avenue and 113th Avenue – under the reconstruction project.

For the other existing intersections, the preliminary design shows:

• 107th Lane, closed.

• 108th Avenue, right-in, right-out only.

• 108th Lane, right-in, right-out only.

• 109th Lane, closed.

• 110th Avenue, both sides, right-in, right-out only.

• 110th Lane, right-in, right-out only.

• 111th Avenue, closed.

• 111th Lane, right-in, right-out.

• 112th Lane, north of Foley closed.

• 112th Lane, a cul de sac south of Foley, right-in, right-out only.

• Only one of two access points to the Egret Oaks house development on the north side of Foley, immediately east of the Egret intersection, will remain open and it will be right-in and right-out only. These homes do not have any access to city residential streets.

The county has received $2.99 million in federal funds for the project, which has a preliminary cost estimate of $3.74 million.

The county’s share of the project cost will be some $500,000 and the city’s $250,000, Fischer said.

According to the highway department website, existing traffic volumes on this stretch of Foley are 15,000 vehicles a day and are projected to increase to 25,000 vehicles a day by 2030.

“This project will improve mobility and increase safety on the network by providing additional capacity and reducing access,” the website states.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]