CSAH 78 (Hanson Boulevard) is an important north-south route providing mobility and access through Anoka County and the City of Coon Rapids. The corridor is an urban four-lane divided roadway that crossed the BNSF Railway, creating serious safety concerns. The crossing had one of the highest road traffic fatality exposure rates in Minnesota due to the 12,500 vehicles per day that compete with an average of 81 trains per day at the crossing. Since BNSF planned to add a third track to accommodate the growing demands of freight trafﬁc and commuter rail trafﬁc along this line, Anoka County and the City of Coon Rapids began planning upgrades to better serve the traveling public, local land owners, and pedestrians in the area. SRF worked with the County and City to initially complete a feasibility study, which identiﬁed a grade separation of CSAH 78 over the railroad tracks as the preferred alternative to eliminate the existing issues related to the crossing.
To address the safety and traffic concerns, this project:
- Improved emergency response for first responders.
- Improved safety for all motorists and pedestrians.
- Constructed three bridges to provide safe access to Hanson Boulevard.
- Constructed concrete curb and gutter, a storm sewer system, and drainage and ponding improvements to collect stormwater runoff and effectively treat the runoff within the Coon Rapids Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA)
- Provided a shared-use path and sidewalk on either side of the roadway for the safer passage for pedestrians and bicyclists in all seasons.
SRF’s project controls team assisted the County in reviewing contractor schedules during construction to track contractor progress and assure the contractor was maintaining the schedule. We also reviewed schedule impacts to advise the County on the potential resolution.
Construction of the $17.5 million Hanson Boulevard (CSAH 78) Railway Grade Separation project represents the culmination of years of collaborative efforts between the State of Minnesota, City of Coon Rapids, Anoka County, and BNSF. The safety of roadway users was of paramount importance, and community engagement was central to establishing support for the project during the design process. Construction of the project was challenging due to the extensive number of utilities within the constrained corridor and working along the active railway.
John Piper, the Fire Chief for the City of Coon Rapids, was a longtime advocate for the project. As the Master of Ceremonies for the ribbon-cutting, he stated, “It is the goal of emergency responders to get to the scene of the emergency as quickly and as safely as possible. This location has long been a challenge in our community to get to those calls quickly. The goal of allowing public safety to respond to emergencies without being obstructed at the railroad crossing is huge.”