Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 24, 2001

Talk of detour route heats up Winsted construction meeting

By Patrice Waldron

The regular Wednesday construction meeting in Winsted was a bit more lively than usual when the detour route, signs, and motorist behavior were discussed.

Representing Victor Township was Bob Bakeberg of the maintenance department.

"We're really getting chewed up by all of the traffic on the township roads," Bakeberg said.

The efforts of Linda Battey, senior construction inspector, were praised by Bakeberg. Battey worked to place more barricades and road closed signs, targeting the township roads thought to be the most heavily travelled.

Phase two of the McLeod County Road 1 project is proving to be quite a headache for motorists who frequently travel between Winsted and Howard Lake.

The detour route, which was designed to keep traffic on paved county roads, is lengthy, and motorists are slow to learn that it is in everyone's best interest to drive the designated detour route.

"The traffic is just chewing up the road. We can't spend every waking moment trying to fix these roads," Bakeberg said.

He went on to explain that even if there was time to constantly grade the gravel roads, the damage from the heavy use goes beyond that. He spoke of needing to eventually repair the gravel surface itself.

Bill Johnson, engineer with URS engineering, said that he would check with those at the county (McLeod) level, to see if there's any way to help the township.

Winsted Police Chief Mike Henrich spoke to the group about the array of problems he and his department have encountered due to the detour being poorly marked.

Trucks have been travelling on roads not made for that use, because they didn't know which way to go, Henrich explained.

"People have become so frustrated (due to the poor signage) that they move the barricade sign, then to find out that they can't get through anyway," Henrich said.

Johnson explained that officials are very aware of the problem, and that Battey has been in direct contact with the sign company.

Although an exact date for the arrival of more detour signs was not available, Johnson assured Henrich that it would be as soon as possible.

"For me, the worst was having people move the barricades and then drive through. I would move them back, get back to what I was doing, only to have another person come along and move them again. I finally gave up and decided to just move them back at the end of the night, because I wasn't getting anything done," said project supervisor Tim Mueller.

Aside from emergency vehicles, and the construction personnel, the barricades should not be moved, stated Henrich.

State, county, and local police officers have been assisting in the construction area. More than 20 citations have been issued to motorists who drive around the barricades.

Motorists are strongly urged to allow themselves extra time when travelling, and take the designated detour route.

Winsted resident Gene Fasching who lives on Sixth Street within the construction area requested that his driveway opening be made smaller when the curb and gutter is put in.

His other request was that a small section of his driveway be paved, at his own expense, when the crew is there to work on the contracted section.

The policy for paving a driveway within the construction zone, is that the crew will pave through the right-of-way. Any extra work will be done at the expense of the homeowner.

"Some on phase one had to be turned down, because there just wasn't time to honor all requests," Mueller stated.

Fasching's driveway section would require little extra paving, so Mueller would follow up on the matter and prepare a price quote.

Another point made was the fact that the road in that area would be about 18 inches lower than the original height, once the project was completed.

Johnson explained that the driveway grade would also be considered, because they want to have a smooth, tapered driveway when the work is completed.

When discussing the culvert in the same area, Fasching was assured that the culvert would not be closed. Sometimes, if there is damage to it during construction it may be tied into an existing system, but it won't be closed, Johnson said.

All travellers on McLeod County Rd 1 are urged to take the detour route.

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