Residents get a look at Foley Boulevard plan

Sixty-seven residents attended the open house hosted by the Anoka County Highway Department for the Foley Boulevard re-construction project between Egret and Northdale boulevards.

Pam Johnson, Anoka County Highway Department, discusses the county’s plans for the reconstruction of Foley Boulevard from Egret to Northdale boulevards with local residents at an open house at the Coon Rapids City Center council chambers Jan. 9.
Pam Johnson, Anoka County Highway Department, discusses the county’s plans for the reconstruction of Foley Boulevard from Egret to Northdale boulevards with local residents at an open house at the Coon Rapids City Center council chambers Jan. 9.

The open house was at the Coon Rapids City Center council chambers Jan. 9.

There was be no formal presentation, but informational materials and maps were placed on walls and on tables of the council chambers, while county and city of Coon Rapids staff answered questions about the various aspects of the proposed project.

Comment cards were also provided at the meeting for the public to use to make written comments.

There was a mixed bag of pro and con comments from residents, according to Gina Pizzo, county engineering project manager.

But there was no single issue raised by residents; those opposed to the project had different reasons, Pizzo said.

Those living on Foley Boulevard were concerned about the project’s impact on their property, while others who lived on the residential streets whose access to Foley would be affected by the reconstruction had concerns, too, she said.

But while some spoke about the inconvenience of having their access cut off from Foley, there were others who were pleased that there would be less traffic on their residential street, Pizzo said.

Staff will be going over the written comments and the verbal responses they received at the open house before convening a meeting of the project management team, which includes both county and city staff, to see what tweaks, if any, need to be made to the proposed reconstruction plan, according to Pizzo.

Another open house for residents on the updated design plan will be scheduled for later this year.

Right of way acquisition decisions, including how residential properties fronting Foley will be affected, will be part of the final design process later this year and into early 2015, according to Matthew Parent, planning project manager.

County staff will meet with affected property owners individually when the highway department has a better handle on the right of way needs for the project, Parent said.

Construction on the 0.9-mile project is scheduled to start in the fall of 2015 and be completed in 2016.

The project will reconstruct the existing two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided road with a center concrete median and dedicated left- and right-turn lanes at full access intersections, much like the project scheduled for construction later this year to upgrade Foley from 101st Avenue to Egret.

Also proposed is a trail on one side of the road and replacement of the existing sidewalk on the other side.

According to the preliminary design presented at the open house, only two full access intersections would remain in place – at 109th and 113th avenues.

For the other existing intersections, the preliminary design shows:

• 107th Lane, closed.

• 108th Avenue, right-in, right-out only.

• 108th Lane, right-in, right-out only.

• 109th Lane, closed.

• 110th Avenue, both sides, right-in, right-out only.

• 110th Lane, right-in, right-out only.

• 111th Avenue, closed.

• 111th Lane, right-in, right-out.

• 112th Lane, north of Foley closed.

• 112th Lane, a cul de sac south of Foley, right-in, right-out only.

• Only one of two access points to the Egret Oaks housing development on the north side of Foley, immediately east of the Egret intersection, will remain open and it will be right-in and right-out only. These homes do not have any access to city residential streets.

Options for realigning the intersection at Foley and Northdale, where the current configuration has sharp turns and poor visibility, have also been part of the design process.

The proposal presented at the open house involves moving the alignment of westbound Northdale to the north prior to the Foley intersection. That would mean taking some properties, including an auto repair business, a hair salon and a vacant building, according to Andrew Witter, assistant county highway engineer.

In addition, there is proposed to be a dedicated right-turn lane from northbound Foley on to eastbound Northdale, which includes a traffic island separating the through lanes from the turn lane, and a dedicated right-turn lane from eastbound Northdale on to southbound Foley, both of which could have right of way impacts on properties.

Gary Konietzke is not directly impacted by the project because he does not live on Foley nor on the adjacent residential streets, but he has been driving Foley to get to and from work for more than 27 years, he said.

The project should help with the current traffic problem on Foley, according to Konietzke.

But he does not see the need for a trail on one side of the road and a sidewalk on the other and is concerned about the potential loss of property for residents living on Foley, some of whom he knows, Konietzke said.

Some of them will be less than 30 feet from the road,” he said. “That’s a little overwhelming,” Konietzke said.

Erwin Morin lives at 115th and Ilex Street north of Northdale and west of Foley and he, too, is not immediately impacted by the project, other than the fact that he drives Foley every day and has done for 24 years.

“These are big improvements and they are badly needed at the intersection of Foley and Northdale, but there will be some inconvenience,” Morin said.

Jim Christen, too, made a point to talk with Dan Frey of the county highway department about the improvements planned at the Northdale-Foley intersection.

There have been too many accidents with the current configuration, he said.

Karen Whitesell lives on 109th Avenue and her access to Foley won’t be limited by the proposed project, she said.

“Foley needs some work, but this is a pretty ambitious project,” Whitesell said.

The county has received $2.99 million in federal funds for the project, which has a preliminary cost estimate of $3,735,000.

According to the highway department website, existing traffic volumes on this stretch of Foley are some 15,000 vehicles a day and are projected to increase to 18,800 vehicles a day by 2036.

The project is designed to increase safety by providing dedicated left- and right-turn lanes, where none presently exist, mobility and capacity, the highway department states.

Before the project can move forward, both the Anoka County Board and the city council have to approve a joint powers agreement, which spells out the details of the project and the cost sharing.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]