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Roosevelt underpass work underway

The countdown is on.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has switched to its new set of tracks, and Hoffman Construction now has 50 days -- according to the bid contract without taking penalty hits -- to complete the Roosevelt Avenue underpass and have it open to the public.

Hoffman Project Manager Chad Johnson said that won't be a problem.

"We have hit all of our dates," he said, and now, crews "are on the clock" for Roosevelt Avenue.

Mn/DOT Construction Project Engineer Shiloh Wahl said getting the tracks switched was a "major piece on this project."

With the work beginning on the underpass comes the closure of the Front Street and Eighth Street intersections with Roosevelt Avenue. Traffic is now being detoured to Highway 34 from Washington Avenue to 11th Avenue and 10th Avenue and back to Randolph Road.

The intersection at Front Street will only be closed about a month though, not the entire 50 days.

With that extra traffic, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has decided to add a left turn lane at the Highway 34 and Washington Avenue intersection to help traffic move quicker.

Wahl said lanes will be marked from East Shore Drive onto Highway 10 as well, so traffic will know what lanes to stay in. East Shore Drive residents are encouraged to use Ox Cart Trail instead, for time and stress relief.

One closure that will be lasting longer than anticipated is the Kris Street crossing. Wahl said that crossing and the new County Road 54 crossing won't be opened until the new gates for the railroad are installed.

Wahl received word the gates won't arrive until the end of August, and then BNSF needs four to five weeks to install them, pushing the crossing open date to around the beginning of Oct. 1.

He said Mn/DOT was hoping for an earlier date, but there's nothing Mn/DOT can do about the date. Before that time though, Roosevelt Avenue will be open. The existing County Road 54 crossing will stay open as well.

July 16 is the scheduled date for the new east side of the Highway 59 bridge to open to traffic. Once it opens, the existing bridge will be closed, torn down and construction of the new west lanes will begin.