Hanson grade separation study is underway

A consultant has been hired by the Anoka County Highway Department to perform a grade separation study at the railroad crossing on Hanson Boulevard, Coon Rapids.

But there is no money to pay for a grade separation project once the study has been completed, according to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer and division manager for transportation.

The purpose of the study will be to determine the viability of a grade-separation at the railroad crossing, whether it be a bridge or tunnel, and select a preferred alternative.

Once the preferred option is chosen, the consultant will develop a preliminary design, estimate construction costs and identify steps for advancing the project, according to a staff report to the Anoka County Board’s Public Works Committee.

In picking a consultant for the feasibility study, the highway department issued a request for proposal and set a budget of $50,000.

Bolton-Menk was the consultant selected for the study in the amount of $44,541.64.

The study is scheduled to be completed in August.

According to Fischer, the Hanson grade separation project has been in the county’s five-year capital improvement program for some time.

And the need for a grade separation at the Hanson railroad crossing on the double-line tracks of the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad has been become even more of a priority, Hanson said.

Rail traffic has increased, not only because of the Northstar Commuter Rail line, but also from the “explosion of oil cars from North Dakota,” he said.

And Hanson has a high traffic volume as one of the county’s main north/south routes, Fischer said.

“Motorists can sit a long time at that crossing,” he said.

Ideally, the county would like grade separations at all rail crossings on county highways, according to Fischer.

But Hanson is a top priority, along with the Foley Boulevard railroad crossing, Fischer said.

In the case of Foley there is a plan on the shelf for an overpass when money becomes available, he said.

Once the Hanson study is completed and the choice of an overpass or tunnel is made with a cost estimate, the county can start looking for funding to construct the project, according to Fischer.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]