County to turn back portion of Seventh Avenue to Anoka

A portion of Seventh Avenue will soon become the responsibility of the city of Anoka.

Anoka County is turning back Seventh Avenue, from East River Road to Main Street, to the city.

Maintenance of the half-mile of road will now become the responsibility of Anoka’s public works department. Seventh Avenue north of Main Street will continue to be Anoka County’s responsibility.

County Engineer Doug Fischer met with the Anoka City Council during a work session last month to talk about the county’s desire to turn back roads to the city.

The county currently 40-50 miles of roads under its jurisdiction that may not fit the model of what a county road should be, either by traffic counts or design, Fischer told the council.

County roads generally are designated as routes to move traffic and freight between communities, he said.

The half-mile segment of Seventh Avenue is part of 3.5 miles of county roads in Anoka currently being looked at to turn back to the city, Fischer said.

The portion of Seventh Avenue being turned back to the city was reconstructed by the county this summer. The $1 million road project also included a $228,700 contribution from the city of Anoka for city-owned utilities that were also upgraded.

County roads are typically upgraded before being turned back to the cities.

“The county board’s philosophy has been that they don’t want to turn back a county road to a community and create a hardship for maintenance,” Fischer said.

The Anoka City Council Oct. 7 approved a joint powers agreement with Anoka County for the turn back.

The county is also considering handing back Fourth Avenue near Grant Street to the city, according to Fischer.

This could give Anoka more flexibility as the area around the Northstar Commuter Rail Station develops.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver raised concerns about adding more workload to the city’s roads crew as it takes on Seventh Avenue, which borders the First Student school bus headquarters and is a direct route up to Highway 10 and a link used by many to get to Mercy Hospital.

“I have apprehensions any time we take back more work for our staff,” Weaver said.

City Engineer Greg Lee said this will add a half-mile to the 66 lane miles of roadway city staff already maintain.

But Lee said once Seventh Avenue is under the jurisdiction of the city, Anoka will be able to claim it as Municipal State Aid Street, which will qualify for additional funding from the state, which will help offset maintenance costs.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at
[email protected]