The Andover City Council scheduled a March 4 public hearing on a project to improve morning rush hour traffic flow on Crosstown Boulevard near Andover High School.
The plan is to extend the 300-foot southbound Crosstown Boulevard right turn lane at Andover Boulevard to 1,080 feet. Vehicles would not have to stop at Andover Boulevard even if southbound traffic has a red light because they would be turning onto a dedicated 1,500-foot lane on Andover Boulevard that other westbound Andover Boulevard traffic would have to merge with before the high school parking lot’s main entrance, according to City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz.
Berkowitz said the final design still needs to be completed to answer questions such as whether the high school’s electronic sign would need to be moved to accommodate the intersection modifications.
If a bid is approved, reconstruction would happen during the summer break.
The city of Andover is planning to pay for approximately 43.8 percent of the $569,510 estimated cost and it would like Anoka County to contribute 32.4 percent, and the Anoka-Hennepin School District to cover 23.8 percent, according to a city staff report in the council’s Feb. 5 packet.
Anoka County Engineer Doug Fischer said staff at the county highway department feel the county can financially participate because it makes the county highway system better, but the county’s transportation committee and county board must still approve the cost sharing. These votes would come after the city of Andover, who has taken the lead on this project, prepares a joint powers agreement.
Chuck Holden, Anoka-Hennepin chief operations officer, expects that the school district will contribute to the project through a city assessment.
“We think it’s a good project that will help traffic,” Holden said. “We’re excited about it.”
A city-funded March 2013 study completed by Bolton and Menk noted that congestion is worse in the morning because students and adults are sharing the road. Andover High School lets out before the afternoon commute.
Bolton and Menk found that vehicles heading south on Crosstown Boulevard in the morning can get backed up as far as 3,000 feet north of Andover Boulevard.
The traffic study indicated that an extended right turn lane going into the new auxiliary lane on Andover Boulevard to the high school parking lot entrance could reduce southbound queue lengths to about 650 feet. The extended southbound right turn lane alone would be 1,200 feet.
The traffic study looked beyond Crosstown Boulevard and its intersection with Andover Boulevard by the high school. It reviewed traffic flow on Hanson Boulevard and its intersections with Crosstown and Andover boulevards as well.
The study confirmed what Andover residents already know. Traffic congestion is bad in the morning and afternoon on Hanson Boulevard. The worst traffic back-up in the area during the morning commute is southbound Hanson Boulevard at Andover Boulevard, with queues as long as 4,100 feet north of this intersection.
Bolton and Menk suggested that the best long-term solution would be to widen Crosstown and Hanson boulevards to four lanes, but these are county roads and the county has no immediate plans for expansion, Fischer has said. The county does plan to add a traffic signal at Hanson Boulevard and 161st Avenue.
The city is also planning to evaluate whether intersection improvements are needed at Crosstown Boulevard and Nightingale Street, but Berkowitz said the city would wait for the Crosstown-Andover boulevards work to be done before taking another look at this intersection.
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