Ramsey was a sparsely populated township when Bob and Diane Zelenaks moved from Minneapolis in 1971. Alpine Drive was just a dirt road that went to the east of Old County Road 5 to a few homes.
The Ramsey City Council Jan. 28 unanimously approved a joint powers agreement with Anoka County to install a traffic signal at the intersection of County Road 5 (Nowthen Boulevard) and Alpine Drive.
Bob thinks the traffic signal is necessary because the intersection is so busy, but hearing and seeing the increased traffic over the years has not been easy.
“We moved from the city to a more rural area, but the city moved back to us,” Diane said.
Old County Road 5 has been reduced to a less than one-fourth mile road on the northeast corner of the new County Road 5 and Alpine Drive. The county originally proposed to shut down the southern access of this road, but will keep it open as a right-in, right-out.
Construction is expected to start in mid to late August wrap up in November, so school bus routes for the nearby Ramsey Elementary School would be impacted, according to a report from City Engineer Bruce Westby. The most recent construction estimate is $1,574,786.85 with up to $936,000 coming from a federal grant. The city’s share, including engineering, may be $162,836.39.
The four-way stop was installed Nov. 13, 2006. Although there were fewer accidents, Westby said the long-range plan was a traffic signal.
According to Minnesota Department of Transportation statistics from 2012, the average daily traffic for County Road 5 at Alpine Drive was 4,850 vehicles. Sunfish Lake Boulevard saw an average of 6,000 vehicles a day south of Alpine Drive and about 4,000 vehicles a day north of this intersection, which has a traffic signal.
Dee Weichelt, who lives by the Old County Road 5 northern access to Nowthen Boulevard, feels that blinking warning lights would be a better solution than a traffic signal.
She said there are going to be accidents at every intersection and with a signal, people are going to try to beat the red light.
“It’s really nice right now I think because everyone stops on four sides, and I felt really safe that way going in and out of there for many, many years,” Weichelt said.
Residents and the council had a number of issues with the Anoka County Highway Department’s first proposed layout, so the council at two meetings tabled action on the joint powers agreement until everyone was satisfied with the compromises.
The most significant change was reducing the length of concrete medians on County Road 5 north and south of Alpine Drive. Three properties, including a dental office, will keep their full access to County Road 5. The Zelenak property on the southwest corner of the intersection will still have its driveway moved from County Road 5 to Alpine Drive, however.
Arlona Bergman has lived in the home just south of Bob and Diane Zelenak since 1984. She told ABC Newspapers Jan. 1 that she would be “disturbed” if the county put in medians because it “could impact the value of my property.”
The joint powers agreement no longer mentions completing a trail gap on the northeast corner of the intersection to Krypton Street or installing a watermain loop. The city could address these issues at a later date, although the council has mixed opinions about the trail. The three affected property owners do not want it in front of their property, but the counter-argument was many more people would benefit from the trail with Ramsey Elementary School nearby.
“I appreciate the changes you made. I think you heard the citizens and the discussion from the council,” Councilmember Chris Riley told Curt Kobilarcsik, a county engineering program manager.
Old County Road 5
June Hampton told the council the story of getting stuck on Old County Road 5 because she did not go fast enough to get up the steep slope going north, but kept her foot on the brake because she did not want to slide backwards onto County Road 5 (Nowthen Boulevard).
Thankfully, her granddaughter was with her and called her son on a cell phone. June’s son watched for traffic as his mother slowly backed down the hill.
The county’s new plan keeps Old County Road 5’s southern access, but only as a right-in, right-out because of the median on County Road 5.
The city is also looking at regrading the road on its own to lower the steep slope. This part of the project was added to the joint powers agreement, but it would be up to the city to fund the projected $40,000 cost.
“I’m perfectly happy with those proposals. I appreciate you’ve taken the time to listen to us and you’ve addressed our concerns,” said Patrick Hampton.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org