March 26, 2007

Highway 12 reconstruction

A detailed look at the two-year project

By Cullen Schultz
Staff Writer

Highway 12 has been a critical part of Delano over the years.

The highway has provided consumer traffic, and has had a huge impact on the business community, especially with the industrial park.

Now plans are in motion to give the highly-trafficked highway a new look.

Plans have been talked about for redoing Hwy. 12 for the past 30 years, with many people from Delano talking with the state to try and improve road conditions.

With the increase in population west of the cities, more and more traffic on the road, it became clear something needed to be done to improve the highway conditions.

“The existing road can’t effectively handle the traffic of people heading east and west,” Delano Mayor Joe McDonald said.

During the ‘90s, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) worked with city officials and went over various ideas for the route of Hwy. 12, with MnDOT even suggesting moving Hwy. 12 out of the city.

“For 30 years, the citizens of Delano have guided MnDOT in the right way,” McDonald said.

Over the past several years, the city worked with MnDOT to get the most effective plans to improve Hwy. 12 for the commuters, as well as Delano. They came to a conclusion in October 2005, and finalized what they believe to be the best plan.

“We are at a critical time because of recent growth, and it’s the best opportunity to bring this 30-year project to fruition,” McDonald said.

The first stage of construction Delano will see happen will begin in June 2008. The final plan, approved by MnDOT and the city, shows work beginning by the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Wright County Road 30.

Land is in the process of being purchased, and plans include putting in a green area, consisting of decorative lighting, landscaping, and trails.

“It will be the first thing people will start to notice,” Delano City Engineer Kent Torve of Wenck Associates said about the land acquisition.

The first step of the Hwy. 12 construction is set to start June 1, 2008, with the second step due to start in June 2009.

“We are going to do what we can to keep MnDOT on the 2008 timeline,” Delano City Administrator Phil Kern said.

The first step will consist of road building on the east side of town, beginning at the Highway 12/County Line Road intersection, and heading west. The entire corridor will be completely redone with significant changes being made.

“Right now, the road does not meet standards; the River Bridge does not meet standards.” Kern said.

The construction on the highway is designed to make it a much wider road. It will have a turn lane throughout the entire corridor, a median with a possibility of trees and landscaping, and extra wide shoulders to accommodate four lanes if the need arises in the future.

While Hwy. 12 is being widened, crews will have to remove the sewage and water pipes to make room for construction. MnDOT will be working with local utilities to bid on this project, which will consist of removing the old pipes and replacing them with new ones.

The new pipes will significantly help with drainage issues, and will tie into plans for a new pump station, which will be located west of the railroad and the Crow River.

“All the utilities will be moved and improved,” McDonald said.

The most notable changes the community will see in this step of the project will take place with the construction of the new River Bridge, and new intersection.

The River Bridge, as of now, has a weakening foundation and needs to be replaced. The new bridge will be 40 feet tall, which is 20 feet taller than it is now, and have a pathway and decorative lighting to make the bridge more safe and aesthetically pleasing.

The bridge will also tower over River Street, eliminating an intersection, and allowing for easier travel.

Other efforts are also being put into place to free up the commute, such as eliminating access to Hwy. 12 from roads such as Third and Fourth streets.

The intersection change will take place by bypassing the current intersection where Hwy. 12 connects with Wright County Roads 16 and 30.

“It is a major intersection change,” Kern said.

The new road will curve east of Co. Rds. 16 and 30, and a backage road will be constructed to allow travelers to be able to get where they need to go.

“(Co. Rds.) 16 and 30 will intersect west of 12, and flow into 12,” Kern said.

To make the corridor more aesthetic, paths and sidewalks will be placed by the road to present an improved and cleaner image to pedestrians.

There will be landscaping along the trails, decorative lighting, brushes, and general landscaping and trees, it was noted.

To go along with the highway construction in 2008, another new road will be built to help traffic to and from the industrial park. The road will go from Seventh St to Twelfth Street, and will lead to an intersection with a stoplight.

“It will be a controlled intersection for the industrial park,” Torve said.

The second stage of construction is scheduled to begin June 2009, and will take place by the railroad bridge by Peppermint Twist and go north past the Delano American Legion.

Construction is planned to go straight from June 2008 to completion, but certain issues with the railroad company might delay construction for a few months.

“There might be a gap of a few months until the railroad bridge is reconstructed,” Kern said.

Since Hwy. 12 is a state highway, funding for the project will be paid for by everyone in the state. In order for it to get done, the state gives MnDOT a certain amount of money from various sources, including taxes, and the state decides where to best use the money. Now, it is Delano’s turn.

With the massive construction going to take place, detour routes have already been mapped out. Wright County Road 30 has been established as the route for stage one.

The detour route for stage two, will start again with Wright County Road 30, west to Brighton Avenue, and back north to Hwy. 12.

The city is planning on modifying the intersections and putting temporary signals at particular intersections to accommodate the increased traffic, and keep commuters on the assigned detour routes.

“To keep detourees on the detours will be a challenge,” McDonald said.

The city is also working with MnDOT on parking issues, so residents will have an easier time parking.

With all of the construction going on, there are always concerns about travel, and with business owners – consumer traffic.

To help alleviate some of the burden of the construction, temporary roads will be built to accommodate business owners and consumers. MnDOT is responsible for and is under contract to provide all-weather roads to businesses throughout construction, so there is always an open road for use.

“All businesses will share in the challenge of getting your customers to your front door, but it is possible,” McDonald said.

As for commercial and residential growth during the construction, Kern feels the growth will hold back for 2007-08, but after construction is complete, he has high hopes for continuing expansion in Delano when it is done.

“When construction is completed, 2009 and 2010, in my opinion, will be busy years for commercial and residential construction,” Kern said.

City officials are eager to talk with the community and try to inform and communicate the best ways to handle the construction. They will be doing various things such as distributing maps, and using the local media to get information out to the public.

“With the city guiding information issues, we are going to depend on the media to help, our web site, mailers, and the public will need to take an active role, too,” Kern said.

The city is also working with the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce to try and find ways to help businesses.

The city will be hosting a booth at this year’s Delano Community Expo Saturday, March 31, and Torve will be there providing information and answering questions.

The city will also be having discussions with the chamber and its members to find out how the city could best help their businesses; the next scheduled discussion is at the chamber’s regular meeting Thursday, April 19 at city hall.

“We are going through this process to find out what we can do to help,” Kern said.

Hwy. 12 has been important for the City of Delano in many ways, and with the new road coming to town, who knows what the possibilities for the future could be.

For additional information please visit the cities web site at www.delano.mn.us and click under Hwy. 12 Reconstruction. The site provides updated construction and detour maps, a computer simulation of the complete Hwy. 12 project, a frequently asked question section, and an offer to get free updates via e-mail.

Upcoming events showcasing Highway 12 construction plans

• City of Delano booth at the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual business expo Saturday, March 31.

City Engineer Kent Torve will be on-hand to answer questions about the project.

• Delano Area Chamber of Commerce regular meeting Thursday, April 19 at the Delano City Hall.

Meeting will have an agenda focusing on Highway 12 construction.

RSVP to Lisa Koenecke at the chamber by calling (763) 972-6756.

• Web site updates – the City of Delano recently updated its web site to include detour routes, a frequently asked section, a computer simulation to give a visual image of the completed project, as well as a place to register for e-mail updates.

Visit www.delano.mn.us and click the Highway 12 reconstruction link.

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