Federal funding for Osborne Road project

By Peter Bodley
Contributing Writer

Federal funding has been awarded to Anoka County for a project to reconstruct a segment of Osborne Road (County State Aid Highway 8) from Central and University avenues in Spring Lake Park and Fridley.

The county has received $893,700 in federal Highway Safety Improvement Program dollars, which are administered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In late 2015, the county hired Bolton & Menk, a consulting engineering firm, to study this one-mile section of Osborne Road and evaluate potential improvements to the corridor to benefit not only motorists, but residents as well. An open house for the public took place in February 2016.

The road section provides access to Unity Campus of Mercy Hospital and two large medical buildings as well as Emmanuel Christian Center.

With the allocation of federal dollars, which will be available in 2021 and pay up to 90 percent of the total anticipated cost of the project, $993,000, the county will finalize the study, then recommend an upgrading plan for submission to the city councils of Fridley and Spring Lake Park for their comments, according to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer and division manager for transportation.

“We are looking at a hybrid project,” Fischer said.

The current four-lane roadway is a “mish-mash” of traffic controls that need fixing, he said.

One option under consideration is a three-lane configuration with one travel lane in each direction and a continuous center-turn lane, according to Fischer.

The ultimate goal is to make sure Osborne Road functions better in terms of both capacity and safety, not only for motorist, but also for buses, pedestrians and bicyclists, Fischer said.

The county has also been awarded federal Highway Safety Improvement Program dollars, $900,000, for a second project – this one in the city of Columbus on Broadway Avenue (County State Aid Highway 18) between Potomac and Kettle River boulevards.

This project will overlay the existing road surface on Broadway and add shoulders and turn lanes, which are lacking now, according to Fischer.
Funding for the project is likely to be available as early as 2019, Fischer said.

The goal of the federal program is to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, requiring a data-driven, strategic approach to improving highway safety that focuses on performance, the MnDOT website states.