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Hate them now, love them later: DL highway projects are on schedule

Summer in Detroit Lakes includes orange road construction barrels and Road Closed signs at the Highway 10 and Highway 59 intersection. The project will be done in mid-October. Photo by Meagan Pittelko/Tribune1 / 3
Progress is being made on the new Highway 10 bridge over the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks in Detroit Lakes. Photo by Meagan Pittelko/Tribune2 / 3
Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs: Motorists need to pay attention, as the lanes change occasionally through the construction zone at Highway 10 and Highway 59 in Detroit Lakes. Photo by Meagan Pittelko/Tribune3 / 3

A $4.8 million bridge replacement and Highway reconstruction project at Highway 10 and Highway 59 is on track to be completed by its mid-October deadline.

"It's slow going until the bridge gets done," said Jesse Miller, MnDOT project engineer in Detroit Lakes. "The controlling item is the bridge."

The replacement of a bridge over the Canadian Pacific Railway line in the eastbound lane of Highway 10 is the key element of the project, which also includes replacement of a section of bituminous pavement on the highway with concrete, between the intersections of Highway 59 and Summit Avenue.

The project has caused some delays, especially during peak traffic times.

"We survived Memorial Day Weekend, and I was worried about that," Miller admitted.

But motorists are still able to travel from one side of the Highway 59/Highway 10 intersection to the other—there will always be one lane open in each direction on both Highway 59 and Highway 10.

But don't get cocky. The temporary lane alignments change occasionally—they just did again recently—so motorists should not expect the same lane arrangement everytime they drive through the intersection.

"Read the signs," Miller said. "We've had a lot of issues with people not reading the signs and going around the barrels. Pay attention—the lanes change every so often."

He also asked motorists to be patient with the construction process. "When they see there's not much work being done on the intersection, they're either waiting for the concrete to set or getting ready for the next lane shift," he said.

The only detour that will need to be made is around the Summit Avenue/Highway 10 intersection, while concrete is being installed there; that detour is expected to take place about mid-way through the project, likely around mid-July or August, Miller said. MnDOT will announce the detour in advance to give motorists time to prepare.

But even when that intersection is being replaced, there will need to be limited access to the highway from the north side of Summit, as there is no other exit point for the businesses in that little "island" between Highways 10 & 59 and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway line.

"We will need to do that part of the intersection one side at a time," Miller said earlier.

Construction will continue through the three-day WE Fest country music festival the first weekend in August. During a different highway construction project two years ago, "we didn't allow them to work," said Miller. But because "the construction barricades will have to remain in place anyway, we may as well let them keep working within the barricades."

The other big state road project in the immediate Detroit Lakes area is the installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 59 and County Road 22, near the Detroit Country Club and Soo Pass Ranch, site of WE Fest.

That $1.8 million project started last month and should be finished at the end of July, before the start of WE Fest, said MnDOT Public Affairs Coordinator Jerimiah Moerke.

The roundabout project includes the construction of a temporary bypass on Highway 59, to ensure that traffic continues to flow through this area throughout construction; however, access between Highway 59 and County Road 22 has been restricted at times.

"Tuesday we'll start paving down there," Miller said. "The majority of the curve is there, it's starting to take shape."

That shape will be circular rather than oblong like the roundabout at Willow Street and Highway 59, because of the layout of the site, Miller said.

All in all, Miller said, both projects have been going as smoothly as can be expected.

(Reporter Vicki Gerdes contributed to this story)

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