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Roadwork ahead: Detroit Lakes readies for big season

Five major Detroit Lakes roadways are primed for extended closures during the 2022 road construction season. Portions of Willow Street, Frazee, Street, West Lake Drive, Holmes Street and Highland Drive are all expected to be closed at some point.

Detroit Lakes Aerial.jpg
An aerial view of Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes. City Engineer Jon Pratt said planned road construction projects will cause travel disturbances along "some pretty significant roadways" this season, affecting "a broader portion of the population than what we would normally see."
Detroit Lakes Tribune file photo
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DETROIT LAKES — It'll be a busy season for road construction in Detroit Lakes.

With four major road improvement projects planned for 2022, City Engineer Jon Pratt laid out a timeline and expectations for the planned spring and summer traveling disturbances to the city council at its most recent meeting on April 12.

"I think it's fair to say that the projects...to some degree, interact and overlap with one another," said Pratt. "And these are some pretty significant roadways and are going to generally affect a broader portion of the population than what we would normally see. A lot of times it's just a smaller, isolated portion of the population, where it's just a neighborhood and things like that; these just happen to be pretty significant roadways and, in the case of West Lake Drive, there's just not any good detour. There's just no other option there."

The West Lake Drive project has been broken up into two phases after a number of property owners along Phase One of the project, from Legion Road to County Road 6, forced litigation over the project. Pratt said most of the issues concerning the property owners along Phase One have been resolved and he has received approval from the Detroit Lakes City Council to seek bids as soon as the last legal hurdles are cleared.

At the earliest, Pratt said, Phase One could start in July, with utility work being done a few weeks before, but, he added, they will only start construction on Phase One if they would be able to complete it before next winter.

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Map of Phase Two of the West Lake Drive road and utility improvement project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.
Contributed / City of Detroit Lakes

Phase Two of the West Lake Drive project, from County Road 6 to the Pelican River, is expected to start before Phase One, in mid-June. The closure of that portion of West Lake Drive will force many residents living on the south side of the lake to detour on Highway 59, or drive around the other side of the lake in order to enter the city.

Pratt said the Phase Two portion of West Lake Drive won't be completed until mid-to-late September. However, construction work will pause during WE Fest and the road will be reopened in a gravel state to accommodate traffic going to and from the concert area.

"There are variables, as far as personnel and the equipment they can put on it, but (West Lake Drive Phase Two) is going to take most of the summer," he said.

In 2020, computer-generated renderings were created to show residents what an updated West Lake Drive, with a multi-use trail on the lake side, would look like.

Major roadwork that will cause closures in Detroit Lakes this spring/summer include the following projects:

  • Willow Street: Willow Street and Rossman Avenue intersection to Washington Avenue — Start: Early to mid-May / Finish: Early August
  • Frazee Street: Between McKinley Avenue and Washington Avenue, including alley between Frazee Street and Holmes Street — Start: Late-April / Finish: 6-8 weeks
  • Holmes Street: Between Veteran's Memorial Parkway and Washington Avenue — Start: After Frazee Street / Finish: about 6 weeks
  • West Lake Drive Phase Two: Between County Road 6 and the Pelican River — Start: mid-June / Finish: mid-to-late September
  • West Lake Drive Phase One: Between Legion Road and County Road 6 — Start: July / Finish: By the end of the construction season
  • Highland Drive: Between Highway 34 and Randolph Road — Start: mid-summer / Finish: 8-10 weeks

The Willow Street, Frazee Street and Holmes Street road and utility improvement project will resume along Willow Street as soon as the wintery weather subsides. Pratt said residents can expect the Willow Street and Rossman Avenue intersection to be closed in mid-May, before school finishes for the year on May 26. The city will be posting detours ahead of the closure.

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Map of the Willow/Frazee/Holmes Street road and utility improvement project, scheduled for completion in 2022.
Contributed / City of Detroit Lakes

"To varying degrees, weather plays a big part in when things are going to get started," he said.

The Willow Street portion of the road project will then continue eastward to Washington Avenue and is scheduled to be completed in early August, said Pratt. The route will serve as a primary detour during WE Fest.

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The downtown portion of the project will begin on Frazee Street between McKinley Avenue and Washington Avenue, he said. Those portions of Frazee Street will be shut down during the construction, which is tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of April.

Work will also begin around that same time on the alleyway near Bremer Bank that separated Holmes Street and Frazee Street, so residents should expect that alleyway to be impassible, as well, Pratt said. The whole Frazee Street and alley portion of the project is expected to remain shut down for 6-8 weeks and be back to normal by July.

"The good news is everybody really should be able to access everything (on Frazee Street) from different directions," he said. "We'll have signs posted for all of this stuff, but for the most part, everyone should be able to get around (Frazee Street)."

Highland Drive is also facing closures this summer for its road reconstruction project, Pratt said. He thinks the project will start mid-summer and last between 8-10 weeks, during which Highland Drive will be shut down to thru traffic.

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