Planning, Analysis and Design
Latest News (January 2020)
The Birch Street project has evolved within the last few months. An initial open house was held on October 1, 2019 and, after receiving feedback, some revisions were made. The second open house will be held on January 28, 2020 to garner feedback on the updated concepts.
Some of the key updates to the layout are summarized below:
- The Rice Lake Elementary School west entrance will be realigned to the Birch Street/Tomahawk Drive roundabout.
- A Concept was developed for a third roundabout at Old Birch Street.
- A Concept was developed for a revised two roundabout option that does not revise the lane configuration east of West Shadow Drive.
It is the intent to finalize the concept and develop construction limits in order for the right of way process to begin. The goal is to have the right of way and final design plans completed by the beginning of 2021, in order for the project to start in the Spring of 2021.
Corridor Design History
In 2008, the County partnered with SRF Consulting Group, Inc., to assist in a corridor study along Birch Street and recommend a preferred roadway improvement concept. The final report was published in 2011, and recommended a four-lane roadway between Hodgson Road and Blackduck Drive, with a channelized traffic signal at West Shadow Lake Drive, along with additional access management strategies. The original study did not consider roundabouts as an option because, at that time, Anoka County had no experience with roundabouts.
In 2018, the County incorporated a Birch Street improvement project from Ware Rd through Birch Court into the 5-year Highway Improvement Plan. Between 2011 and 2018, three highly successful and well received roundabout projects were completed within Anoka County, including one in the City of Lino Lakes (Sunset Avenue at Apollo Drive). The success of these roundabout projects led the county to re-visit the Birch Street corridor study and consider using roundabouts instead of traffic signals. The resulting analysis proved that not only would the roundabouts be a viable option, but the roundabouts provided for a more efficient means for traffic to flow through the corridor, resulting in a two-lane concept that performed just as effectively as the four-lane option.
The original project terminated just east of Birch Court and allowed for U-turns at Fawn Lane and Deerwood Lane, between Kingfischer Court and Birch Court. Safety related concerns regarding U-turns were voiced by residents along the corridor at the first open house held in October 2019. As a result of this feedback, the County produced an option that includes a third roundabout at Old Birch Street. This design option does not allow U-turns between Kingfisher Court and Birch Court, but instead allows vehicles to utilize the third roundabout to turn from eastbound to westbound. Anoka County believes that this option addresses the safety related deficiencies proposed in the original design and voiced by the public. This option was presented to the Lino Lakes City Council in December 2019.
As a result of the December meeting, a third option was prepared that terminates the project immediately west of the second roundabout at West Shadow Lake Drive, with the notion that the segment to the west will be evaluated for an optimal design incorporating the change in traffic patterns due to the current proposed project in the future.
October 1, 2019 Public Open House 1 Information