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Unsnarling of Hwy 10 begins

The first shovel has been turned. The orange signs are along the road. The Highway 10 realignment project has begun.

Thursday was the "celebration on a long awaited project," Emcee Jo Johnson stressed at the Catch the Wave Highway 10 Connect Detroit Lakes Project groundbreaking ceremony.

Held in the old Hardee's area, McKinley Street was blocked off to house the Community Band, picnic tables, a food stand complete with hardhats full of ice cream and a couple hundred community members.

Johnson, who serves as Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce chair-elect, said Detroit Lakes was gathered Thursday with luck and gratitude.

"Luck -- we are a chosen community from the state to have this facelift," she said. The city is grateful for the minds and technology that brings people to this area, she added.

Larry Buboltz, who has been Detroit Lakes' mayor for nearly 20 years, said this Highway 10 straightening is the largest public works project in the history of Detroit Lakes. The project started in 2000 and has gone through 20 public meetings to date.

"I think it's safe to say this is the best and biggest highway project in our lifetime," agreed Becker County Board Chairman Barry Nelson.

Buboltz listed several safety issues that will be corrected and some of the positive points about the project, including the Roosevelt Avenue underpass, Highway 59 bridge, hopefully a no-railroad whistle zone when it is completed and a redevelopment area when it is completed, as well.

"How many cities have the opportunity to redevelop acres of land in their downtown?" he said. "I look forward to a successful completion."

Minnesota Department of Transportation District 4 Transportation Engineer Lee Berget said the project began in 2000 after a state surplus in funds. Then when Evans moved to the Central Market location, there were traffic safety issues raised. He said there was also a need for another underpass or overpass at the railroad tracks, and there was the safety issue of having 70 access points along Highway 10 in the redevelopment area -- which will now become seven.

Addressing all those concerns resulted in the largest project in the district, coming in at over $60 million.

"We see the importance of safe rural transportation," said Brenda Elmer, a representative for Norm Coleman. And those concerns have not gone unheard, she added.

"This is a good thing for this region and this state," she said.

"It's a new look that will last for many years," Berget said.

And with that, men and women clad in yellow and orange vests and hardhats turned the first dirt on the site, officially kicking off the reconstruction of Highway 10 through Detroit Lakes.

For details on the project and constant updates on road closures, visit

"I hope and pray for a safe project season," Nelson said.