Anoka trail work delayed, tunnel to be open for Halloween

The pedestrian underpass below Main Street at the Rum River Bridge will be open two Saturdays this month for Anoka Halloween celebrations.

The crossing has been closed for construction to complete a link of Anoka’s pedestrian and bike trail near city hall.

In July, the Anoka City Council approved a $1.2 million project to construct a trail bridging the gap from Main Street to the Henry Hammer Trail north of city hall.

Work on the trail this summer hit a snag when the contractor raised concerns about constructing a concrete retaining wall very close to a 21-inch sanitary sewer main behind city hall, according to Greg Lee, public services director and city engineer.

The retaining wall would have required the contractor to excavate below the sanitary sewer pipe.

“There’s not really a lot of extra room to maneuver behind city hall,” Lee said.

The project has been on hold while a new plan is vetted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) – a requirement because the project is largely federally funded by a transportation enhancement grant, according to Lee.

Instead of a solid wall, the contractor hopes to use modular bricks that will eliminate the need of digging as deep near the sewer line. It will also allow for more flexibility when the frost comes out of the ground, Lee said.

It has been inconvenient for the project to be delayed, but it won’t add any expense, he said.

The change will actually result in a cost savings for the city. The modular wall could be about $30,000 cheaper than the solid cement version originally planned, Lee said.

While work on the pedestrian underpass had been scheduled for completion this week, some will now be pushed to the spring of 2014.

But, according to Lee, the contractor will clean up the area and open the underpass and south staircase during Anoka Halloween celebrations, both for the Light up the Night Parade Saturday, Oct. 19 and the Grand Day Parade Saturday, Oct. 26.

“The contractor knows a lot of people are going to be milling around this area on those two days,” Lee said.

The Halloween bonfire, held after this Saturday’s Light up the Night Parade, will be moved to River Plaza (city hall parking lot).

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]