A $1.35 million roundabout will be built on West River Road in Champlin this summer, the first step in a long-range plan to transform part of the thoroughfare into a scenic stretch linking city parks along the Mississippi River.

The project is expected to last from mid-June until September. It will close the four-way West River-Hayden Lake intersection to through traffic and close West River Road north to its intersection with Hwy. 169.

The longer-range plan is to convert the half-mile of West River Road north of the roundabout into a parkway. City engineer Tim Hanson said the parkway could have more curves, stop signs and pedestrian crosswalks between ponds and parks, including Mississippi Point and Doris A. Kemp.

Mayor ArMand Nelson said the roundabout, the city’s seventh, “allows us to move forward” with the vision of a resident task force that recommended a parkway as the way “to bring the city’s parks together.”

Safety is another consideration. Police Chief Dave Kolb said the Hayden Lake-West River intersection has had 32 crashes, including nine with injuries, in the past decade. By slowing traffic in what is now a 45-mile-per-hour zone on West River Road, the roundabout should improve things, although Kolb said crashes may actually rise temporarily after a circle is installed as drivers get used to the configuration.

The city also hopes to rebuild Elm Creek Dam, which sits by West River Road between several city parks and a pond flowing into the Mississippi. That work, estimated at more than $3.6 million, could start this fall if the city gains state bond funds this legislative session, Hanson said. Renovating the dam, built in the 1930s, would also close the same half-mile stretch of West River Road.

The future parkway would be an attractive feature for the nearby Mississippi Crossings redevelopment area around the Anoka-Champlin Mississippi River Bridge, said John Cox, deputy city administrator.

The roundabout sits at the south end of Mississippi Crossings, which has struggled to find a developer after Dominium dropped its proposal for an apartment complex on a site a bit south of the bridge. The Crossings north end, upstream of the bridge, will hold Applewood Pointe, a 70-unit senior housing cooperative, Cox said.

Cox said the five-floor Applewood, with views of the Mississippi River, has city approval and developer United Properties, of Bloomington, may begin building by year’s end.

The City Council recently voted unanimously to award the roundabout construction contract to Asphalt Surface Technologies, of St. Cloud, for its low bid of $968,740. Other project costs total about $380,000 and include landscaping the roundabout, signage and decorative median edging.

The total $1.35 million cost will be covered mostly by $972,355 in state road aid, and the balance by assessments and city water and streetlight funds, a council memo said.

Hanson said the city will swap jurisdiction of two legs of the four-way intersection with Hennepin County. The city will gain control of West River Road north of Hayden Lake in order to make parkway and dam improvements. The county will gain and maintain Hayden Lake Road from the intersection west about a third of a mile to Hwy. 169.