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Hwy 10 -- then and now

Detroit Lakes has just turned over the dirt for a realignment of Highway 10. It's not the first such project the city has seen.

Although this realignment has been discussed for several years and downtown businesses may be concerned about losing traffic and customers, some past proposed realignments would have eliminated the route through Detroit Lakes all together.

Goodbye Highway 10?

On Jan. 19, 1934, the Record reported that state officials discussed cutting Highway 10 -- which ran from St. Paul to Moorhead through Detroit Lakes -- at St. Cloud and running it over to the former Minnesota Highway 3 to Fergus Falls' Highway 64 and then to Moorhead.

"The state officials admitted there was no legitimate reason why U.S. 10 should be re-routed and promised to give the matter of retention their earnest consideration."

A south loop around the city was already established for convenience along old Minnesota Highway 3.

"There is no justification for its removal and it no doubt will be left where it is now," the paper said about the plans to change Highway 10 through the city.

On March 2, 1934, the newspaper printed that city residents could rest with ease because Mayor A.C. Knutson received a phone call from a state official saying the highway would not be re-routed.

Highway 59 bridge

Today's Highway 59 bridge is scheduled to include five lanes. It was originally built in 1967 for $540,000.

The 296-foot span stretched across the Soo Line and Northern Pacific railroad tracks, and opened Sept. 1, 1967.

Miss Minnesota Highways Anna Cucekov, 19, of St. Paul, cut the ribbon on the bridge at a ceremony filled with dignitaries.

The original deadline for opening the bridge was Oct. 6, but good weather and soil caused construction to speed up.

The bridge was built for safety reasons -- which has been the noted No. 1 reason for the new Highway 10 realignment and extra lanes on the Highway 59 bridge -- because there would be fewer railroad crossings in the city.

Less than three days after the construction was completed, a car and semi-truck accident was reported. Although the car was totaled, there were no serious injuries.

Roosevelt crossing

Another major completion involved in this year's Highway 10 project was the Roosevelt Avenue crossing at the railroad tracks.

The opening "became a reality Monday, Dec. 9, 1967, when it opened to traffic."

Of course, now that crossing is being changed to an underpass to avoid the tracks all together.

The total project cost $195,557, which included $48,955 for right-of-way property, $107,602 for actual construction and $39,000 for the cross arm signal, a cost that was shared with the Northern Pacific railroad.

The project began in July, 1967, and sewer and water construction also took place at a cost of $29,000.

Southern bypass?

In 1968, it was again proposed that Highway 10 be diverted around Detroit Lakes, this time as a south bypass. There was heavy opposition from the Detroit Lakes Industrial Development Corporation.

"It might endanger prospects of getting industry," the newspaper read.

"The highway plan is basically oriented around this area. The major upgrading will have to be around the lakes area," said Dick Fredlund, who served as a Becker County planning consultant from Nason, Wehrman, Knight and Chapman Inc. of Minneapolis.

Although the highway has moved around the city numerous times -- and the next couple years will add one more to that list -- the community has also proven the need for the highway to continue through the city.

(This is the fourth and final story in a series on historic Detroit Lakes.)