Access to neighborhood big issue on Main Street project

Anoka County in 2015 plans to continue widening Main Street east of Radisson Road to just east of Harpers Street. For many residents in the area, the project cannot come soon enough.

Anoka County is planning to widen Main Street from Radisson Road to just east of Harpers Street in 2015. Most of this stretch saw about 17,000 vehicles per day in 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Photos by Eric Hagen

Anoka County is planning to widen Main Street from Radisson Road to just east of Harpers Street in 2015. Most of this stretch saw about 17,000 vehicles per day in 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Photos by Eric Hagen

“Do it. Get it done,” said Pete Flesvig at an April 22 open house at Blaine City Hall that gave residents first glance at the design of widening Main Street to four lanes. The county and Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc will consider the feedback in follow-up designs.

Flesvig has lived north of Main Street near Harpers Street for 37 years and remembers the days when he was surrounded by sod farms and could count traffic on one hand.

With Blaine consistently being one of the fastest growing Twin Cities suburbs over the past decade, which includes The Lakes housing development that has its main northern access at Harpers Street, Pat Byhoffer said it can take her “a good five-plus minutes” to turn left from Harpers Street onto Main Street.

Main Street has about 17,000 vehicle trips per day between Radisson Road and Harpers Street and about 8,800 vehicle trips per day east of Harpers Street, according to 2012 Minnesota Department of Transportation statistics.

“They need a traffic signal at Harpers Street,” said Byhoffer, who has lived in Blaine for 20 years.

There will be a traffic signal at Harpers Street, according to Dan Schluender, assistant city engineer. Cloud Drive may also get a traffic signal when Main Street widens to four lanes.

Woods at Quail Creek

Residents from over 100 properties in the Woods of Quail Creek housing development would need to make a U-turn at Harpers Street or find a longer alternative route if they are coming from Highway 65 or Radisson Road and wanting to get home. The preliminary design calls for a concrete median to reduce Xylite Street access to a right-in, right-out.

Woods at Quail Creek residents said many of them heard before they bought their homes that there would be a new east-west city road from their neighborhood to Harpers Street, which has a full access intersection that will get a new traffic signal with this widening project.

“There’s a 100-plus taxpayers stuck in a situation that was misrepresented,” said Robert Piedade, who has lived in his Blaine home since August 2012.

Two additions of the Woods at Quail Creek have been developed and the third addition is underway after the council approved the final plat Feb. 20. Once the third addition is completed, the neighborhood will have 109 homes.

Blaine Planning and Community Development Director Bryan Schafer told residents and the council Feb. 20 that the city never made any guarantees that a new east-west road would be constructed to Harpers Street. It would cross private land, so the city would either have to buy the land now or wait for these properties to the east to develop so a road can go through. Councilmember Russ Herbst told a Blaine couple who own property east of this neighborhood that the city had no intention of condemnation and would wait for landowners to work with private developers.

“The point is that development was approved relying on that single access on 125th,” Schafer said Feb. 20. “It was envisioned that as development happened in the future, we would try to get another access somewhere, but it was never a guarantee that it could be accomplished. We think we’re more likely now to get some access points that would help than we were with the original approval, but it will still take some time.”

Dan Markus, who has lived in this housing development for just over a year, would like a full access for Xylite Street.

Dan Schluender, assistant Blaine city engineer, answers questions at an April 22 open house at Blaine City Hall.

Dan Schluender, assistant Blaine city engineer, answers questions at an April 22 open house at Blaine City Hall.

“I want to have a safe intersection, but in three years there was one minor accident and they’re telling me this intersection is unsafe,” Markus said as he pointed to a poster board that showed incidents between 2010 and 2012.

Susan McCarthy has lived in the area for eight years, first in The Lakes and then in the Woods at Quail Creek. She would be fine with a three-quarters access so that she could avoid the Harpers Street U-turn when she is driving her three young children around.

Although Doug Rachac does not live in the Woods at Quail Creek, he believes these residents need more access so they do not have to make a U-turn at Harpers Street.

Rachac has lived along Harpers Street north of Main Street for four years and questioned the accuracy of the 2010 through 2012 crash reports he saw at the open house. He said he has personally seen three crashes at Harpers Street within the last year-and-a-half. He recalled a motorcycle getting rear-ended and a T-bone crash involving two vehicles.

There were no fatal accidents or accidents that resulted in incapacitating injuries from 2010 to 2012. However, there were a couple of incidents of vehicles going off roads or hitting deer and other accidents that resulted in non-incapacitating injuries. Marty Pitzen said he has had two close calls in less than two years.

Rachac thinks this widening project “will be a good thing,” but would like to see a trail on the north side of Main Street throughout the project area.

Assistant City Engineer Schluender said the trail on the south side of Main Street would be a continuation of the trail that now ends at Radisson Road. There would be a short trail segment on the north side of Main Street by Pioneer Park.

Rachac also is anxious to see the traffic signal at Harpers Street go in and would even like a trail on Harpers Street through his neighborhood because he sees many families with young kids crossing at Main Street to go to the popular Lakeside Commons Park.

“It’s dangerous to get to Main Street and difficult to cross it,” he said.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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