Current Blue Line Extension design updates presented at Crystal work session

A graphic shows a view of the proposed light rail station’s layout. (Submitted photos)

Officials say design plans are at 60-percent completion

By LACI GAGLIANO
laci.gagliano@ecm-inc.com

The design plans for the upcoming Blue Line LRT project are about 60 percent finished, according to an update at a July 18 Crystal City Council work session.

Community Development Director John Sutter presented several updates to the council regarding design and engineering for the light rail transit extension that will run through the northwest suburbs, including a stop along Bass Lake Road in Crystal. Developments like a roundabout for West Broadway Avenue east of the rail crossing, noise and visual barriers, intersection improvements, and design for the Bass Lake Road station were discussed.

A graphic shows the proposed roundabout and West Broadway track crossing.

The roundabout is planned to provide better continuity for the flow of traffic, creating safer pedestrian facilities, and enabling better lighting in the area near the tracks. West Broadway Avenue will cross the tracks near Welcome Avenue, and the roundabout will tie in with Lakeside and Vera Cruz avenues.

According to the Blue Line Extension Office plans, the noise wall that will provide a barrier between residences and passing trains to mitigate noise impacts has also been detailed. The height of the wall, which is anticipated to be 10 feet, was calculated based on the distance of residences from the source of potential noise, and will be constructed on the railroad side of the property line.

“The 10 feet is always measured from the top of the rail. In some cases, the wall will sit on top of a retaining wall because the tracks are either higher or lower than the adjacent ground,” Sutter told the council.

Engineering for the wall is expected to be finished by next spring, but design plans will be continuously reviewed with city and county staff members, and property owners will be contacted to discuss potential impacts.

A visual screening wall standing eight to 10 feet high will also be constructed on certain private properties to mitigate the impacts of clearing vegetation along the corridor. The design was conceived through a joint effort among engineers, city staff members and surrounding neighbors. Residents with a screening wall on their property will own the wall.

The Bass Lake Road station is also undergoing design finalizations. According to the project memo presented at the council work session, the design is meant to reflect Crystal and the neighborhoods surrounding the station, as well as Becker Park and surrounding businesses. A workshop was hosted to devise a possible design plan, and city staff has provided input into what will likely be the final design for the station. Additionally, a federally mandated interpretive element required for each LRT station will provide a historic perspective on the Osseo Subdivision. A 170-car park and ride lot at the station will be accessible from Lakeland Avenue, as well as a plaza at Bass Lake Road and County Road 81.

Other design updates included a bridge over the rail, which will be similar to the County Road 81 bridge that Sutter said many residents have said they like. There was also discussions about improvements to pedestrian safety and infrastructure, particularly at the intersection of Bass Lake Road and County Road 81, as well as designs for traction power substations and assurance that the engineering teams have met with Crystal’s Public Works department to ensure underground infrastructure like sewage, water, and storm drains are minimally impacted.