‘169’ project ready to begin

BLUE EARTH – The public has received the latest update on the Highway 169 reconstruction project that is set to begin Monday.

Dozens attended an open house Tuesday at the Public Safety Building in Blue Earth, including local officials, city and county employees, and citizens.

Many who own businesses along 169 checked maps to see how customers will get to their stores during construction.

Others traced paths from home to work from one side of town to the other.

Andy Erichson of Ulland Bros. Construction of Cloquet – the general contractor -?explained how traffic will be detoured around construction, which will extend from the high school corner at County Road 44 south to Riverside Cemetery. Construction will begin at Seventh Street, site of one of three new roundabouts.

The highway will be closed from Seventh Street to the high school corner, probably beginning Thursday, Erichson said. It will remain closed until Monday, when the detour goes up.

A crossover will be built north of County Road 44. Southbound traffic will cross into the northbound lane. Drivers will turn left onto County Road 44, travel east to County Road 11, travel south to County Road 16, then turn right and travel west.

Since the Seventh Street intersection will not be open to traffic, drivers will turn left on Sailor Street, head south to Eighth Street, then head west to 169.

Construction on the Seventh Street intersection is scheduled to take 60 days, Erichson said. The entire project will last 135 days.

When it is completed, says Aaron Warford of Bolton & Menk, there will be three lanes from County Road 44 to Riverside Cemetery: two driving lanes and a turn lane in the middle. The divided highway will remain in place north of the school and continue to be a two-lane south of Riverside.

One nice thing about the project is that all four state inspectors are from the area, says Susan Museus, project supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“Gonna take some pride … when it’s your hometown,” she said.

MnDOT will keep the public updated with weekly meetings at 11 a.m. Wednesdays at the Public Safety Building.

People also can get information at: www.dot.state.mn.us/d7/projects/169blueearth

Museus reminded everyone that the proposed construction schedule depends on the weather.