Project includes underground infrastructure, road resurfacing and bike route
By Laci Gagliano
Sun Post Newspapers
After several phases of public hearings, assessments and planning, the Robbinsdale City Council approved on March 21 a major reconstruction project for Noble Avenue and several surrounding connecting streets.
The reconstruction, expected from May until November, will include from 36th Avenue through 40 1/2 Avenue, also branching off toward West Broadway on 39 1/2 Avenue. Several small east-to-west cross streets along Noble, such as 37th Avenue and 39 1/2 Avenue, will also receive extensions of the work.
The primary reconstruction location, Noble Avenue, will also receive a 10-foot wide paved bike path running along the west side of the road. The width of the road will be reduced from 40 feet to 38 feet, which city officials said is standard for a state aid road, a road selected by the city to receive partial state funding for reconstruction projects.
Greenery will also occupy both sides of the road, and residents living directly along the bike path will have their sidewalk snow plowing done by the city.
The resolution to adopt the project received approval from the majority of the council, with the exception of Councilmember George Selman, who expressed concern and dissatisfaction with the prospect of directing bike traffic to the road.
“I’m going to vote no because of the bike path. I don’t think Noble should have to carry the entire burden of all this activity in this area with buses, police and fire, traffic, and medical vehicles, and now also bikes. I think there’s plenty of other streets that go north and south parallel to Noble that could take on part of that burden,” Selman explained. He clarified that he does support the rest of the resolution, including all aspects of the reconstruction and the assessments.
City Engineer Richard McCoy presented an overview of the project’s impact before a well-attended public hearing. McCoy addressed the scope of the work, reasons for the project, and financial implications, as well as answered concerns that residents have voiced during previous public hearings and through correspondence with the council. That feedback was used to develop the reconstruction project, including the current bike path plans, which were selected from three possible options after extensive deliberation.
“We’ve selected these streets because they show a demonstrated need in one or more of the asset areas. Residents and council members might be aware that we had a water main break in this particular area just Friday,” he said. “That particular pipe was installed in 1925, as was a lot of the piping in this area, which is the main reason it needs to be replaced.”
McCoy also pointed out that the road’s surface is poor and due for replacement.
The original scope of the project included only Noble Avenue, but McCoy explained that it eventually became evident that other roads would need to be incorporated.
“As design proceeded, we recognized we could not just do Noble Avenue. We can’t just do it in isolation and forget about the gravity systems that are downstream,” he said.
He explained that the storm and sewer systems flow downhill, meaning the gravity system must connect to the larger web of infrastructure. In addition, McCoy said, changes in weather patterns have impacted the need for increased pipe sizes.
“Storm events now are more intense. They drive a lot more rain, and the existing storm system is not built to handle that properly,” he said. The new infiltration units will carry an acre of water each, a major upgrade from the smaller pipes that are currently in place.
McCoy also addressed residents’ worry about vibration from the construction damaging their homes. He said the vibrations are not likely to be particularly strong, and would mostly occur at the start of the initial digging at each site along the reconstruction, predicting that residents can expect lower levels of vibrations than previous major work done along Halifax. He also assured residents that the city will closely monitor vibration impacts.
McCoy said the Shingle Creek Watershed will contribute $50,000 to the project, since it will include diverting storm water and other mineral collections from Crystal Lake. For example, the new infrastructure will capture 15 pounds of phosphorous annually, preventing the mineral from collecting in excessive quantities.
Questions about how properties are assessed and how the overall project is funded were also addressed. McCoy explained that the average assessment for the project, which totals more than $6 million, is just over $4,800, meaning residents are paying for about one tenth of the cost, or $620,207.44 of the project. Furthermore, no home is assessed for more than six percent of the total property value, a cap the city places on the formula used to calculate the assessments. The other 90 percent of the project’s cost comes from external sources such as property taxes, state aid, utility bills, and the watershed contribution.
A bid will be awarded in early April, McCoy said. Because the project is large, the work will start shortly after in May, with the entire construction season likely occupied by the work. Noble Avenue is expected to be closed to through traffic for the duration of the reconstruction, and McCoy said various detour routes will be released.
City leaders reminded residents that while construction projects can be inconvenient, they will remain accountable to residents’ concerns at every juncture. City Manager Marcia Glick urged people to contact the city anytime an issue arises.
“We’ve done big projects like this before, and it takes a while to get through it. If you have questions, call us up,” she said.
McCoy reassured residents that the city will work hard to make sure the reconstruction doesn’t encroach upon their lives.
“If there are any issues, we want to hear about it. Our job is to get this project done with minimal impact to the folks who are living there,” he said. “We know it’s a nuisance; we know it’s noisy; we know it’s going to be dusty from time to time. We have our contractor get out there in advance if there could be issues of access so folks are aware,” he said.
“Will there be some hiccups? There probably will be, but we try to minimize them and deal with them when they come,” said McCoy.
Contact Laci Gagliano at [email protected]