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Road work: Next 5 months

MNDot crews started the construction of a switchback lane on Highway 10 just west of Boyer Lake Tuesday morning. Highway 10 is being resurfaced from Detroit Lakes to Boyer Lake. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

They say there are two seasons in Minnesota —winter and road construction.  Well, winter is over.

MnDot officials are gearing up for a few significant projects around Becker County this summer, the largest of which started Monday.

Highway 10: DL to Boyer Lake

Construction workers are busy prepping highway 10 west of Detroit Lakes for a project that will resurface the nine-mile section of highway between Detroit Lakes and Boyer Lake.

Not only will both double lanes get a fresh layer of concrete, but MnDOT workers are also replacing culverts, revising some of the turning lanes and constructing a few new turning lanes.

“This week there will be lane closures in both east bound and west bound lanes until the temporary crossovers are built,” said MnDOT Project Engineer Jesse Miller. “Then we’ll put traffic into a two-lane, two-way on the eastbound side, and then they’ll mill off the surface on the westbound side.”

Miller says not only should drivers expect a bit of a delay through that section during busy travel times, but he says law enforcement officers will be out there watching for speeders and monitoring the railroad crossing.

“Because we’ll have traffic crossing over, people need to be cautious at the railroad crossing just past the golf course, said Miller, “because there aren’t any red flashing lights over the eastbound lane, it’s over the westbound lane …. so when there’s a train crossing there will be patrol there stopping traffic.”

Miller says they will work with residents around that area to find alternative routes, and warns drivers to keep off the new concrete.

“Just because it’s white, doesn’t mean it’s hard,” he added.

Miller says the roughly $8 million project designed to smooth out the roads will hopefully be completed by the start of WE Fest when travelers will be pouring into town. Of course, he says, a lot depends on weather.

Construction in that area will push on through both the memorial weekend and the Fourth of July holiday, so drivers are asked to slow down and be patient.

Heartland Trail crossing

The Tuesday after Memorial Day, drivers heading east out of Detroit Lakes will run into a construction zone.

That’s when MnDOT begins work on Phase 1 of the Heartland Trail, as its workers will be building a crossing that will go under Highway 10 on the very east edge of the city limits.

“The first week we’ll put in the crossovers so there will be lane closures in each direction,” said MnDOT Project Engineer Seth Ylimiemi, “then we’ll switch traffic to one side and work on the removals and the box culvert installation.”

The box culverts are essentially a concrete box culvert that will act as a bridge-like structure under the ground.  That culvert will serve as a safe passageway for snowmobilers crossing highway 10 this winter.

Once the DNR’s Heartland Trail is extended to Detroit Lakes, that underpass will also serve bikers and pedestrians crossing the highway.

This $885,800 project is expected to wrap up by June 28.

Hwy 59 & 87 culverts

MnDOT inspections have found that deteriorating culverts along Highway 59 between Callaway and Mahnomen and some along Highway 87 east of Frazee are putting the roads at risk of failing, so replacements are on the way.

Beginning in July, workers will put up a detour on Highway 87 that will re-route traffic to Highway 10, down to Otter Tail County Road 60, then east to Otter Tail 51, north to Becker County Road 33, then back up to Highway 87.

That roughly 15-mile detour should only be up for about a week, during which time workers will be putting in new culverts.

The Highway 59 project will not require a detour, but will result in lane closures.

In all, the $500,000 culvert projects are expected to be completed in about a month’s time.

Highway 34 east

The hilly and curvy Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes to Osage may be a little safer after this summer.

In August MnDOT is painting new stripes and putting rumble strips down the center of the road to help keep drivers in their own lanes. This is designed to help decrease the chances of head-on collisions on a road where visibility is not always optimal.

That project is expected to take one to two weeks.

Lake Park

Nighttime travelers on Highway 10 through Lake Park may soon be cruising through a better lit area.

If the city approves the project that partners them with MnDOT, corridor lighting will be installed along the highway between Raider Road and County Road 5.

“We’d put intersection lighting at County Roads 5 and 7 and median lighting all the way down the middle of Highway 10,” said Senior Project Manager Tyson Hajicek, who says there is a little lighting there, but it is “hit or miss.”

“It’s for safety, but it’s also one of those things the city has been working towards for a while, and it just kind of seemed like the stars aligned when MnDOT was able to participate,” said Hajicek, who is also overseeing a project that will close off a few access points from Lake Park to Highway 10.

Hajicek says this is a result of a corridor study done by MnDOT that is designed to eliminate the number of access points to the highway, thereby hopefully lowering crash rates.

Workers will then construct a new frontage road that will go on the south side of Highway 10 between Raider Road and County Road 5, creating a one, long, uniform frontage road.

The Lake Park projects, which should not impact traffic flow, are set to begin the end of June and go throughout the rest of the summer.