Another chance to weigh in on University Avenue project

A public hearing and open house has been scheduled by the Anoka County Highway Department at the Coon Rapids City Center Wednesday, Dec. 11, 4:30-6:30 p.m., on the planned upgrade of University Avenue in Blaine and Coon Rapids.

The main purpose is a mandated public hearing on the environmental assessment and environmental assessment worksheet for the project, which will reconstruct University Avenue from 109th Avenue/Northdale Boulevard to just south of Main Street/125th Avenue, a 1.85-mile stretch.

The public hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. at which time comments will be taken from residents on the environmental assessment and environmental assessment worksheet, which totals some 340 pages and can be found on the Anoka County Highway Department website.

A postcard has been mailed by the county to over 3,000 residents affected by the project.

Written comments on the environmental assessment and environmental assessment worksheet can be submitted at the meeting or to the county at Jason Orcutt, Anoka County Highway Department, 1440 Bunker Lake Blvd. NW, Andover, MN 55304 until the close of the public comment period Dec. 27.

According to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer and division manager for transportation, the only significant issue raised by the environmental assessment and environmental assessment worksheet is noise.

And that issue has been addressed with the inclusion of noise wall installation along stretches of the project area, Fischer said.

Noise walls will be built in six areas along the route.

Once the comments from the public hearing have been included in the document and all the regulatory approvals have been received, the project will be ready to go.

The project as proposed had not changed from the layout that was presented at the last open house earlier this year when a lot of changes were made as a result of concerns raised by residents at the prior open house.

“We sharpened our pencils and I think we did a good job of addressing the concerns of residents,” Fischer said.

Right of way acquisition continues “at full speed,” Fischer said.

This includes the acquisition of some single-family properties on University Avenue on the Blaine side of the road, he said.

These homes were located close to the existing road and with right of way needed for the planned widening of the road, they had to be purchased and will be demolished, Fischer said.

Construction is anticipated to start later in the summer in 2014 and spill over into 2015, according to Fischer.

That’s to avoid a potential traffic issues with the county’s project to reconstruct Foley Boulevard from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard in Coon Rapids next year, Fischer said.

The two county highways are quite close to one another, he said.

University Avenue is expected to remain open to traffic during construction, except when the bridge over Sand Creek is under construction, Fischer said.

Then there will be some total road closures, he said.

Through the project, the present two-lane roadway will be upgraded to a four-lane divided road with concrete median, intersection improvements with dedicated turn lanes, concrete curb and gutter and construction of a pedestrian and bicycle trail on the west side (Coon Rapids) of University Avenue.

The project has an estimated cost of $9.977 million, but the county has received a federal grant of $6.4 million to pay more than half the cost.

The remainder of the cost will be split between the county and the cities of Blaine and Coon Rapids.

Intersection improvements planned include:

• University Avenue/111th Avenue, realignment of the intersection so 111th Avenue from Coon Rapids and Blaine line up at University Avenue with traffic signals. They don’t right now.

• University Avenue/113th Avenue NE, Blaine, full access intersection with potential traffic signal. This is the entry to Four Seasons Mobile Home Park in Blaine.

• University Avenue at 115th Avenue NW in Coon Rapids, right-in and right-out.

• University Avenue/117th Avenue, full access intersection with traffic signal.

• University Avenue/Morningside Memorial Gardens entrance in Coon Rapids, southbound right-in/right-out; northbound left-in.

• University Avenue/118th Avenue NE in Blaine, northbound right-in/right-out; southbound left-in.

• University Avenue/120th Avenue NW in Coon Rapids, southbound right-in/right-out; northbound left-in.

• University Avenue/120th Lane NE in Blaine, right-in/right-out.

• University Avenue/121st Avenue, full access intersection with traffic signal.

• University Avenue/124th Lane NW in Coon Rapids, right-in/right-out.

This will be last segment of University Avenue from County Road 10 to Main Street/125th Avenue N.E. to be reconstructed to a four-lane highway with median.

Two previous projects reconstructed University Avenue from Northdale Boulevard/109th Avenue to County Road 10.

According to the Anoka County Highway Department website, University Avenue between 109th/Northdale and Main Street/125th averages 14,000 vehicles a day and it is estimated that traffic volumes by 2034 will range from 18,000 to 22,000 a day.

“The project is being proposed to provide mobility, access management, safety, geometric and other improvements needed to meet existing and future demands in the travel corridor,” said Jack Corkle, project manager with WSB & Associates, the consultant hired by the county for project design and engineering work.

The Coon Rapids City Center is located at 11155 Robinson Dr. NW.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]