In less than three weeks work will get under way on a $5.78 million face lift in downtown Anoka.
The Anoka City Council Monday approved the low bid on the East Main Street reconstruction project, adding in several alternates that will make widespread improvements in the business district from the Rum River Bridge through Sixth Avenue.
This will connect the 2010 improvements made on West Main Street, bringing an updated look to Anoka’s downtown.
“When we think about this project we need to think about the position we sat in two years ago,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver on the council’s consideration to do some extra improvements on West Main. “We hemmed and we hawed. But the final product is the best darn thing to come along since sliced bread.”
The construction contract for East Main Street was awarded to Northwest Asphalt, the same company who headed up the reconstruction of West Main Street in 2010.
Work is scheduled to begin April 28 and start on the south side of East Main and the Rum River Bridge, working its way east, according to Greg Lee, the city’s public services director and city engineer.
Only two bids were received on the East Main project and both came in slightly above the engineer’s estimate.
“This is a departure from what we have been seeing in over the last three years with bids coming in 10, 15 or 20 percent below engineer’s estimate,” said Lee.
The complexity of the project that includes roadway improvements, electrical upgrades, streetscape and pavers could have led to both the slightly higher bids and the low number of bidders, he said.
This, combined with a very specific construction schedule, likely affected the bidding, said Lee.
“We met with the business and property owners and they were concerned about the project impacting their businesses during construction,” said Lee.
In response, the contractor will only be allowed 20 to 25 days to work on each block. Overages will result in penalties.
The East Main reconstruction project will replace everything from “storefront to storefront,” said Lee, including widened sidewalks, new curbs and bump outs at the intersections to improve pedestrian safety.
Along with just over $4 million in roadway improvements, the city council also approved nearly $1.3 million in extras that will bring a variety of enhancements to the downtown.
The most expensive is an $885,000 upgrade to the city hall parking lot, which will beautify the space and allow it to be used as a plaza during community events. Along with brick pavers it will feature new landscaping and a fountain.
As part of the project there will also be changes made to the city-owned parking lot between Billy’s and Beerbelly’s.
According to Lee, the angle of the parking will be changed to allow for traffic to enter more safely from Main Street and exit on Jackson Street, the opposite of the current traffic flow. The lot will also be entirely resurfaced with pavers and a sidewalk will be added to connect the parking ramp off Jackson Street to the downtown. This will cost $157,000.
Lighting will also be added to the to the Rum River Bridge, with a price tag of $152,000.
And as a safety measure, there will also be the addition of a mid-block crosswalk between Second and Third avenues.
Pedestrians will have the ability to stop traffic and cross at a designated place. To improve safety, Lee said LED lights will be embedded in the pavement to increase visibility since this crosswalk is not at a controlled intersection. The cost for the crosswalk will be $90,000.
Staff recommended the city not approve two bid alternates that would have addressed the transit shelter at the corner of East Main and Third Avenue, as well as landscape and fence improvements in front of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
Lee said the city is working out property ownership issues with those two alternates and they could come forward later as separate projects.
Jim Neilson, an attorney and East Main property owner, has long been opposed to some of the project features.
He says the bump outs at the corners will cause problems.
“Many people are not satisfied with the bump outs,” said Neilson. “We will see in the future if people have problems with those bump outs.”
He also took exception to the bid alternates included in the project.
“You are spending taxpayers’ money, in my opinion, needlessly,” Neilson said.
The majority of the funding will come from the state, with the city using $2.7 million in Municipal State Aid dollars to help pay for the project. There are a number of other funding sources to cover the $5.78 million, including a $1.2 million transfer from the electric utility fund, $500,000 from the general fund and $804,000 from the street renewal fund. The rest will be made up from funds that cover storm water, water, sanitary sewer, parking and park capital.
“We have funding sources identified for this project and all of the alternates,” Lee told the council.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]