Main Street may be widened to a four-lane road between Radisson Road and Harpers Street in Blaine.
Although this project was on Anoka County’s radar for 2016, the city is anxious to get started as soon as possible so it will front the $450,639 cost of the consulting firm Short Elliot Hendrickson of St. Paul to complete the preliminary and final design work to get the ball rolling for a 2015 project.
The Blaine City Council Dec. 5 unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding and then the consultant’s contract. Councilmember Wes Hovland was absent.
The Anoka County Board will vote on this memorandum of understanding Dec. 17. The county’s transportation committee approved it Dec. 6.
Councilmember Kathy Kolb, who along with Councilmember Russ Herbst represents this area of Blaine, said she is supporting the city fronting the design costs because residents have expressed concern about access to Main Street. The county and city would ultimately share the design and construction costs once a joint powers agreement document is finalized.
Back at the May 2 council meeting, residents from the 44-home Woods at Quail Creek development said Xylite Street, which has an access of Main Street between Radisson and Harpers, needs to be more than a right-in, right-out, especially with a 33-home addition planned to the north of them. Another 14 single-family home development will go in just west of there and The Lakes is continuing to get new homes.
Matt Graff said he and his wife were told there would be more access beyond the right-in, right-out at Xylite Street before additional homes were there. He said it is a convenience issue, but also a safety issue.
When heading east on Main Street, drivers need to make a U-turn at Harpers Street about a mile down the road. This happens to be the main northern access into The Lakes housing development and Main Street is a busy 55 mph road, so making the U-turn at this intersection that currently has no traffic signal is a challenge and will only get worse as more homes are built in the area, Graff told the council May 2.
“Somebody is going to get hurt,” he said. “A lot of people out here have already been rear-ended doing U-turns.
Nikki Molin said residents are confused about where they should turn around. A Blaine Police officer she spoke with said he personally thinks there should be no U-turns on Main Street in this area and suggested these residents could turn around in someone’s driveway on another side street.
“I don’t want to live my life turning around in someone else’s driveway and I don’t think the person who owns the driveway would want me turning around in their driveway,” Molin said.
The most recent traffic count the city of Blaine has in this area east of Radisson Road is 8,000 vehicles a day, but this was in 2011, according to City Engineer Jean Keely. By comparison, the traffic count was 14,000 vehicles a day west of Radisson Road.
Harpers Street and Cloud Drive could potentially get traffic signals, but new traffic counts will be conducted to determine if it meets the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s traffic signal warrants.
Even if the signals do not meet warrants, the city could still pay for them to be installed, according to the memorandum of understanding. Otherwise, the county and city would split the cost.
The city will bear all costs of constructing a trail on the south side of the road.
The county would take the lead on purchasing the right of way.
Prior to any project moving forward, Keely said there would be a public open house like any other road project.
Although the discussion first revolved around access, Mayor Tom Ryan said it makes sense to look at widening the road at the same time any traffic signals go in because four-lane roads need longer signal arms than a two-lane road.
“This area is coming in for development. We need to be ahead of it and get it done right the first time,” he said.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org