August 20, 2007

What will commuters do?

Both Highways 12 and 7 will be under construction in ‘08

By Lynda Jensen

Construction will likely be a headache for local commuters next spring, when both Highway 12 and Highway 7 are scheduled for major roadwork for the summer of 2008.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation confirmed that both highways will be shut down next summer, with detours in place.

For Highway 7, a relatively lengthy detour will be set into place, reported Dave Johnston of the regional MnDOT office in Hutchinson.

The detour begins on the east side of Hutchinson and loops south for a 50-mile stretch, taking drivers through Glencoe, Plato, Norwood Young America, Waconia, and then finally to Chanhassen, where the road meets up with Highway 7 again.

However, taking Highway 7 itself for this distance would add up to about 40 miles for the same distance.

An early version of the detour took travellers through Lester Prairie, Johnston said, but this town had too many “zig zags” in it, and after talking with local police chiefs and other officials, it was deemed a bad idea to route such heavy traffic through small towns. He also cited budget factors.

For Highway 12, the City of Delano has a relatively painless detour planned through town, to accommodate what is described as “massive” construction work.

The River Bridge, which is where Highway 12 crosses the Crow River (right after the intersection, as it turns east), will be built up and raised nearly an entire level.

For Delano, Wright County Road 30 will be the established route for 2008.

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 help alleviate some of the burden of the construction, temporary roads will be built to accommodate business owners and consumers.

The following year, Delano has more construction planned for the railroad bridge near Peppermint Twist that will involve another round of detours.

Where therubber hits the road

Construction for both highways is badly needed, and will address needed improvements on aging roads as well as reconstruct the River Bridge in Delano, which needs to be replaced.

Plans for Highway 12

“The existing road can’t effectively handle the traffic of people heading east and west,” Delano Mayor Joe McDonald said of Highway 12.

Work in Delano will begin June 1, 2008 by the intersection of Highway 12 and Wright County Road 30.

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

Among other things, the Highway 12 work will feature the following:

• 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 safer, and more aesthetically pleasing.

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

• The new highway is designed to be much wider. 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.

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

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

“It is a major intersection change,” Delano City Administrator Phil 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, bushes, and general landscaping and trees, it was noted.

For additional information visit the city’s web site at www.delano.mn.us and click under Highway 12 Reconstruction.

The site provides updated construction and detour maps, a computer simulation of the complete Highway 12 project, a frequently asked question section, and an offer to get free updates via e-mail.

Plans for Highway 7

“We’re taking it down to nothing,” Johnston said of Highway 7, saying the road will be completely rebuilt.

The work, which is planned between Silver Lake and St. Bonifacious, includes two roundabout and four passing lanes.

MnDOT’s plan is to mill and overlay 18 miles of Highway 7 from Silver Lake to Carver County Road 10.

Plans also include the following:

• adding passing lanes at four locations.

The passing lanes will be located east of Silver Lake near the intersection with McLeod County Road 15, near the Carver County Road 21 intersection, and between Highway 25 and Carver County Road 10.

• A center left-turn lane will be installed north of Lester Prairie on McLeod County Road 9 along Highway 7.

• Two “roundabouts,” or what are sometimes called traffic circles, will be installed.

Roundabouts entail a circular traffic pattern that causes traffic to go in a semi-circle, without stopping.

The roundabouts will be placed at the intersections of Highway 7 and Highway 25 between Watertown and Mayer, and at Carver County Road 10 between Watertown and Waconia.

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