Reconstructing residential streets in Coon Rapids

The city of Coon Rapids plans to continue its aggressive residential street reconstruction program.

The city has been reconstructing old residential streets in poor condition since 1997.

But this year, it has reconstructed a record nine miles of residential streets plus two miles of state aid streets, according to Tim Himmer, public works director.

And that has stretched city staff resources to monitor the projects, Himmer said.

Indeed, the final project, the reconstruction of Woodcrest Drive, a state aid street, is still being completed, he said.

Himmer presented plans for the 2014 and 2015 street reconstruction program to the Coon Rapids City Council at a work session Oct. 15.

It’s only slightly less ambitious than this year.

Himmer is proposing to reconstruct 8.2 miles of residential streets in 2014, plus 1.26 miles of a collector or state aid street, which would be Round Lake Boulevard from south of Coon Rapids Boulevard to Main Street.

For 2015, 7.31 miles of residential streets are scheduled for reconstruction; no state aid streets have yet been proposed.

According to Himmer, staff recently completed a re-evaluation of the roadway ratings that were done in the fall of 2012, which identified 30 miles of residential streets which are in the poorest condition and in greatest need of reconstruction.

All are between 30 and 40 years old.

The re-evaluation of the 2012 roadway rating by Himmer and Kevin Kawlewski, a consultant with WSB & Associates who is the city’s interim city engineer until a permanent city engineer is hired, made some tweaks, according to Himmer.

The purpose of the work session was to get council’s response to possible changes in street reconstruction policies, specifically full curb replacement on the streets being reconstructed instead of the current spot curb replacement as needed approach and a review of the special assessment policy.

Himmer gave the council estimated costs for the residential street projects in 2014 and 2015 based on both partial and full curb repairs.

According to Himmer, the cost increase going to full curb repair would be between $400,000 and $500,000 or more depending on the project.

In the 2014 project, the estimated cost with partial curb repair is $3,191,400 jumping to $3,716,900 for full curb repair, while for 2015, the proposed project cost estimate would range from $2,844,970 for partial curb repair to $3,313,500 for full curb repair.

For the proposed 2014 Round Lake Boulevard state aid street project, the cost estimate with partial curb repair is $1,238,300, but $1.3 million with full curb repair.

There has been some previous council discussion on the possibility of doing full curb repair, whether needed or not, but Oct. 15, the council consensus was to stick with the present policy of curb repair only where it’s needed.

“I have no problem with the present policy,” said Councilmember Denise Klint.

For street reconstruction projects, council policy has always been to assess a fixed lump sum for residential lots and a front foot assessment for higher density residential and commercial and industrial properties with an annual increase equivalent to the construction cost index.

Those assessments have generally been less than 50 percent of the project cost, with the balance coming from the general fund levy through bonding.

According to Finance Director Sharon Legg, the bonds sold for street reconstruction projects have been over a five-year term, but assessments are generally spread over 10 years.

Mayor Tim Howe said Coon Rapids assesses less for street reconstruction projects than many cities.

“In some communities, residents pay $4,400 or more per lot,” he said.

“What we charge is affordable.”

The single-family residential assessment for 2013 was $1,621 per lot and with a 3 percent construction cost index, that would rise to $1,660 for 2014.

Himmer asked councilmembers if they were willing to consider a larger increase in assessments beyond the 3 percent, but the answer was no.

He said the most recent appraisal the city had done on the benefit to properties of street reconstruction projects put it between $2,000 and $5,000 per residential lot.

That appraisal was performed in 2008 and the council asked that a new appraisal be done.

While the council was told that no one had ever challenged the city’s assessments for street reconstruction in court, an updated appraisal would be needed if that were to happen.

Based on the 3 percent assessment increase, the 2014 street project would generate $1,435,830 in assessments with the city’s share being $1,755,570 for partial curb repair and $2,281,070 for full curb repair.

In the case of the Round Lake Boulevard collector street project, the assessments would only bring in $180,135 with the balance, $1,058,165, coming from the city’s state aid street account, which is funded by the city’s annual allocation of state gas tax revenues.

Collector streets are wider than residential streets and built to state aid standards to handle heavier traffic.

But Coon Rapids’ state aid street dollars also go to pay the city’s share of Anoka County highway projects in the city, according to Himmer.

For 2014, this includes the city’s contribution to the county’s University Avenue project ($400,000), Foley Boulevard project ($300,000), Northdale/Crooked Lake boulevards intersection project ($50,000) and the Coon Rapids Boulevard/Springbrook Drive intersection project ($50,000).

“We have been borrowing against our state aid account for two years and pretty soon the well is going to run dry,” Himmer said.

For the proposed 2015 residential street project, Himmer anticipates assessments picking up only $838,822 of the total cost because there will be fewer properties to assess, he said.

That would leave the general fund levy to pay $2,006,148 with partial curb repair and $3,474,678 with full curb repair.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]