161st Avenue (Armstrong to Variolite) IP 23-01

Project Update


City Improvement Project 23-01 proposes to reconstruct 161st Avenue between Armstrong Boulevard (CSAH 83) and Variolite Street. The street totals approximately 2,680 lineal feet (0.51 miles) in length and is a 29-foot-wide urban section with bituminous curbing. No parking is allowed on either side of the street. This reconstruction project is being pushed up to 2023 to avoid reconstructing the street after PACT Charter School opens.

On April 12, 2022, the Ramsey City Council accepted a proposal for a topographic survey of the project area from Bolton & Menk. Staff has received the survey, which is used during project design. At this same City Council meeting, a geotechnical report proposal from Haugo Geotechnical Services was accepted. The report indicated generally good soils for street and utility construction. 

On June 21, 2022, the Ramsey Public Works Committee (PWC) reviewed bicycle and pedestrian facilities as part of the 161st Avenue Street Reconstruction. The PWC recommended extending a trail along 161st Avenue, generally located north of the boulevard trees within Central Park, with a goal of minimizing tree impacts, and existing park facilities, along the entire corridor.

On July 12, 2022, the Ramsey City Council approved the site plan, preliminary plan and final plat for PACT Addition and PACT Charter School. This included a traffic impact study of both the proposed PACT Charter School and a future Saint Katherine Drexel Church site at the corner of 161st Avenue and Variolite Street. The study indicated no additional improvements are needed on the local streets to accommodate the proposed developments. 

On August 23, 2022, the Ramsey City Council ordered Staff to prepare plans and specifications for Improvement Project #23-01, 161st Avenue Reconstruction.

On October 11, 2022, the Ramsey City Council Authorized Staff to apply for between $50,000 and $500,000 in funding through the Minnesota Active Transportation State Infrastructure Program to construct off-street facilities between Armstrong Boulevard and Variolite Street as part of the 161st Avenue Reconstruction project. Staff estimates $65,000 for the bituminous trail construction costs as part of this project. The deadline for grant submittal is December 30th, 2022. Project selection is finalized Friday, March 24, 2023, and award letters are distributed to selected projects at that time. If awarded and accepted, the funds cover only construction costs associated with the pedestrian and bicycle facility construction, reimbursed per the awarded lowest responsible bid. If not awarded, Municipal State Aid (MSA) funds are proposed to be used as the funding source for the improvements.

Project Scope

161st Avenue is a Municipal State Aid (MSA) street and must be designed to MSA standards. Staff is proposing to generally leave the street at the current 29-foot width but replace the bituminous curb with concrete curb and gutter. The street will also be required to meet an MSA 10-ton pavement strength design standard. As of 2021, 161st Avenue has an Average Daily Vehicle (ADT) count of 1,000. The Traffic Impact Study performed for the PACT Charter School estimated a future 2,500 ADT at full build out. Based of these, and the quality of subsoil found in the geotechnical report, the required pavement section will be approximately 9 inches thick; 5 inches new bituminous pavement and 4 inches aggregate base. These numbers will be confirmed during project design when Staff determines the most cost-effective pavement section / build method. Due to replacing the bituminous curb with concrete curb and gutter, Staff anticipated some impacts to existing driveways and boulevards along 161st Avenue within the existing city-owned right of way.

The project is proposing to add a 10-foot-wide bituminous trail along the north side of 161st Avenue. This trail will connect to the existing pedestrian landing built with the 2020 Variolite Street reconstruction, and the existing crossing at Armstrong Boulevard. All trail improvements will be required to meet MSA standards as well as ADA standards.

Municipal water and sanitary sewer utility exist at the intersection of 161st Avenue and Variolite Street. These utilities need to be extended to the west to connect PACT Charter School to the system. The utility extension will stop at Central Park. The residential properties south of 161st Avenue are not within the MUSA and are not proposed to receive water and sewer services with this project.

Stormwater runoff is currently handled through curb cuts and swales to existing ponding areas located in drainage and utility easements, on the south side of 161st Avenue. The project will replace the curb cuts with storm sewer inlets and connecting piping, removing the hazards of stormwater runoff crossing the street on the pavement. This switch to storm sewer inlets will require the existing ponding areas to be excavated an additional 4 to 6 feet to accommodate the depth of pipe. The storm sewer is proposed to handle the 161st Avenue corridor and existing drainage areas, no accommodations for PACT Charter or a future Saint Katherine Drexel development are being proposed.

Funding for this improvement is proposed to come from the MSA Fund ($637,000), Storm Sewer Utility Fund ($220,000), Water Utility Fund ($94,000), and Sanitary Sewer Utility Fund ($75,000) for a total estimated project cost of $1,026,000. Portions of the water and sanitary sewer costs will be reimbursed as part of the PACT Charter development. 

Property owners will not be assessed for any of the costs for these improvements.


On April 21, 2022, residents impacted by the 161st Avenue Reconstruction project were sent a project notification letter, including notice that a topographic survey will be performed in their area. This letter may be seen here.

On August 25, 2022, residents impacted by the 161st Avenue Reconstruction project were sent project notification letter #2 including notice that a geotechnical crew will be performing soil borings in the area. This letter may be seen here.

Staff encourages impacted residents to contact us with questions or input regarding this project. Please contact project design engineer Joe Feriancek by email jferiancek@cityoframsey.com or by phone at 763-433-9893.