Options for Foley-Northdale intersection

Two alternatives are being considered for the reconstruction of the intersection at Foley and Northdale Boulevards as part of Anoka County’s plans to upgrade Foley from Egret Boulevard to Northdale.

Those options were presented to a work session of the Coon Rapids City Council April 15 by Community Development Director Marc Nevinski and Curt Kobilarcsik, the county’s engineering program manager. County Commissioner Scott Schulte was also at the meeting.

The council is involved because the county is asking for some level of city participation in property acquisition and business relocation costs in the event one of the options is chosen.

That option is a realignment to correct the existing skew at the intersection, but that would mean the acquisition and removal of three businesses – the gas station at 380 Northdale Blvd., a small multi-tenant building housing a hair salon at 325 Northdale Blvd. and a repair shop at 11401 Foley Blvd.

The other option would leave the current intersection alignment in place, but it would include right-turn lanes at all legs of the intersection, resulting in the taking of one business – the gas station.

According to Nevinski and Kobilarcsik, while the realigned intersection is the desired option for the county, it is not cost effective because of the amount of acquisition required and the limited ability to repurpose or redevelop the remaining remnant parcels.

Keeping the existing intersection alignment as it is, plus the new right-turn lanes, is viable from an engineering standpoint and would meet all safety and traffic requirements, Kobilarcsik said.

It would only require taking one business with strip right of way acquisition from other properties for the right-turn lanes which would allow the existing use of those properties to continue, he said.

With either option, new traffic signals would be installed, Kobilarcsik said.

The county is receiving federal dollars to help pay for the project and it would qualify for those funds whichever intersection options is chosen, he said.

A consideration for the council is that the area has been identified for future redevelopment in the city’s comprehensive plan, although no specific redevelopment plan for the area is currently in place and if council wanted the county to move ahead with the realigned intersection, a land study should begin, according to Nevinski.

“City participation will likely mean acquiring remnants from the county, holding those parcels until public or private assembly can occur with other parcels, or perhaps use them to enhance landscaping,” Nevinski wrote in a report to the council.

Funding options might include funds from the housing and redevelopment authority level and-or use of some pooled tax increment financing dollars, he told the council.

The council was divided on the two options and before making any decision, it wanted some idea of what the acquisition and business relocation costs for the realigned intersection option would be as well as the city’s share in any collaboration with the county.

If there was no realignment of the intersection with only the gas station taken for a right-turn lane, no city collaboration would be sought, Kobilarcsik said.

Kobilarcsik planned to have some estimates to the council within a month because the county wants to have a project design completed by June 1 so that the federally-mandated environmental study can begin and the county can start the appraisal process for right of way acquisition for the entire project, not just the intersection, he said.

Councilmember Denise Klint said she did not see a need for a realigned intersection in her experience driving in the area.

Councimember Bruce Sanders saw it as an opportunity to “clean up some properties,” while Mayor Tim Howe said he was aware of a “lot of people” interested in straightening out the intersection because it is dangerous the way it is now.

“I would like to see us do it right,” said Councilmember Steve Wells. “That’s what people expect.”

Councilmember Ron Manning wanted some idea of the acquisition and business relocation costs to the city before making any decision. “If it’s 50 percent of the cost, that would be a red flag, but 20 percent might be reasonable,” he said.

But he was also concerned that Coon Rapids was being asked to help the county pay for the project when others are not, Manning said.

“This is a unique project,” Kobilarcsik said.

An open house for residents and property owners took place in early January. One change has been made in the design since then – the median on Northdale east of Foley now extends farther east to 113th Avenue and Dogwood Street, closing off Flintwood to left-turn movements, according to Kobilarcsik.

No changes have been made to the other proposed access impacts. Only two full access intersections would remain in place – at 109th Avenue and 113th Avenue – under the reconstruction plan.

The 0.9-mile project is scheduled for construction from fall 2015 to fall 2016.

It 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.

The county has received $2.99 million in federal funds for the project, which has a preliminary cost estimate of $3.74 million.