Anoka County is ramping up efforts to get the Highway 10 “add-a-lane” project between Hanson and Round Lake boulevards in Coon Rapids built.

Specifically, the county wants to have the project, which would construct a third lane in each direction from Hanson to Round Lake boulevards, completed before two projects on Highway 10 in the city of Anoka start.

One is a two-year project spearheaded by the city of Anoka set to begin in late 2021 and run through 2023 for grade separations at the current signalized intersections on Highway 10 at Fairoak and Thurston avenues, and the other is a Minnesota Department of Transportation project to replace the Highway 10 bridge over the Rum River as well as make improvements at the Ferry Street interchange, which also has a 2022 start date.

To that end, the Anoka County Board’s transportation committee has directed highway department staff to prepare and send out requests for proposals to consulting engineering firms for preliminary engineering and environmental documentation work on the third-lane project.

Commissioner Scott Schulte, who chairs both the County Board and transportation committee, hopes a contract can be awarded to a consultant in a couple of months, he said.

The consultant cost, estimated between $500,000 and $1 million, would likely be paid for out of the county’s transportation tax, according to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer and division manager for transportation.

The County Board put in place the transportation tax in October 2017 following the dissolution of CTIB (Counties Transit Improvement Board), which previously paid a portion of Northstar Commuter Rail operating costs through a transit tax. The tax comprises a 25 cent transit sales and use tax plus a $20 vehicle excise tax, the same as the former CTIB taxes.

A portion of the annual tax proceeds goes to pay the county’s share of Northstar operating costs with the balance available for county highway and transit projects.

The county may also ask the city of Coon Rapids to contribute to the cost of the engineering and environmental work, Fischer said.

The county currently has a contract for consulting services to prepare a feasibility report for this project and make recommendations on a preferred expansion concept, according to Fischer.

This is due to be completed this month, Fischer said.

It will be important to have a preferred option on the third-lane alignment for the request for proposal, Schulte said.

At the last three sessions of the Minnesota Legislature, the county, with the support of the Coon Rapids City Council, has tried unsuccessfully to secure funding for the project, which has an estimated price tag from $15 million to $20 million, according to Fischer.

“We plan to try again at the 2020 legislative session when there will be a bonding bill,” Fischer said.

Schulte anticipates the Highway 10 third-lane project to be the county’s No. 1 transportation priority at the 2020 Legislature, he said.

“It needs to be funded and built before the projects begin in Anoka,” Schulte said.

According to Fischer, MnDOT has a number of funding needs in the Twin Cities to deal with congestion, but it has been working cooperatively with the county on this project.

The expansion of this 3.2-mile section of Highway 10 will improve safety and congestion because the six lanes currently end just east of Hanson, Fischer said.

And because the traffic “sheds off” at key Coon Rapids interchanges, the four lanes of Highway 10 in Anoka are adequate, but the section in Coon Rapids is undersized, according to Fischer.

Expanding this portion of Highway 10 prior to the Anoka projects starting will allow motorists to get to their exits (Hanson, Main Street and Round Lake) before they encounter the construction congestion in Anoka, Fischer said.

The city of Anoka has been collaborating with both the county and MnDOT on the grade separations at Fairoak and Thurston and the $80 million project is now fully funded.

Under the city’s plan, Highway 10 will be elevated 16 feet at Thurston, which will be slightly lowered with a roundabout interchange, while at Fairoak, Highway 10 will be elevated 15 feet and Fairoak will be slightly lowered to become an underpass.

The project also includes reconstructing the West Main Street intersection with a roundabout, adding multiple sidewalks and trails and frontage road improvements on both sides of Highway 10.

Besides the Rum River bridge replacement and Ferry Street interchange improvements, the MnDOT project also involves bridge rehabilitation work at Seventh Avenue and the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railway as well as upgrading pedestrian sidewalks and approaches to Americans with Disability Act standards.

An open house on both these projects has been set for Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Greenhaven Golf Course, Anoka.

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