No realignment for Foley-Northdale intersection

No realignment of the intersection at Foley and Northdale boulevards will take place when Foley is reconstructed from Egret Boulevard to Northdale by Anoka County in late 2015 and 2016.

In April, a realignment option was presented at a Coon Rapids City Council work session by Curt Kobilarcsik, who is the county’s engineering program manager, to correct the existing skew at the intersection, but that would mean the acquisition and removal of three businesses – the Marathon 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 gas station will be acquired by the county under the existing alignment reconstruction because of a new protected right-turn lane from northbound Foley to eastbound Northdale, according to Kobilarcsik.

Keeping the existing intersection alignment is viable from an engineering standpoint and would meet all safety and traffic requirements, Kobilarcsik said.

But a consideration for the city was that the intersection 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 would need to begin, according to Marc Nevinski, city community development director.

However, the county was asking the city to participate financially in the added costs of the realignment and there was reluctance on the council at the April work session to do so, although it asked Nevinski to prepare cost estimates for city participation.

The council was ready to discuss the issue again at a work session May 6, but Nevinski said the county had decided not to pursue the intersection realignment.

“The existing alignment is safe and everything works fine with this option,” Kobilarcsik said.

And Nevinski said he was prepared to recommend against the realignment option because, based on current assessed marked values, typical federally-mandated relocation costs and recent sales of similar properties, the price tag to acquire the multi-tenant building and repair shop would be close to $1 million.

“That would be at the low end of the right of way taking window,” Kobilarcsik said.

In addition, the city would have to purchase other existing properties In the area to make redevelopment feasible, which Nevinski said would add another $1.7 million to the cost.

But he said that did not preclude future redevelopment of the northwest corner of the intersection.

“There were mixed feelings on the council on the realignment and this solves the quandary,” said Mayor Tim Howe.

The gas station taking is needed because the proposed right-turn lane from northbound Foley to eastbound Northdale would be separated from the two through lanes and a protected left-turn lane by an island, according to Kobilarcsik.

All four legs of the intersection will have protected left- and right-turn lanes, plus a median, but those can be accommodated on the three other legs by the acquisition of strips of property, not the entire parcel, Kobilarcsik said.

New traffic signals will also be installed at the intersection.

The right of way acquisition for a realignment of the existing intersection would have been the bulk of the additional cost to the project, he said.

The construction cost would not be significantly more than upgrading the existing roadway, Kobilarcsik said.

The existing alignment is not that much different from the University Avenue with Northdale and 109th Avenue (Blaine), where eastbound Northdale enters the intersection on a curve, according to Kobilarcsik.

“We have not had complaints and the intersection works just fine,” Kobilarcsik said.

Project design is scheduled to be 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.

No exact determination has yet been made on how many properties on Foley will have to be acquired for the reconstruction work from Egret to Foley, Kobilarcsik said.

One change has been made to the project since the open house in January – 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.

Only two full access intersections would remain in place – at 109th Avenue and 113th Avenue – under the reconstruction plan. A second open house on the project will take place this summer, Kobilarcsik said.

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

Plans are to start work on the project in late 2015 with grubbing and relocation of utility lines, the road construction itself taking place in 2016, Kobilarcsik said.