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Plans to replace railroad bridge changing slightly

September 8, 2008

New proposal should lessen duration of detour

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Instead of a 12-week detour during the heart of a Minnesota winter, plans to replace the railroad bridge that crosses above Highway 12 will most likely be split into two phases.

City of Delano staff met with representatives from Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Aug. 29 to discuss the upcoming bridge replacement.

City Administrator Phil Kern reminded the Delano City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday that the Highway 12 reconstruction project is a two-phase project, and that the second phase involves the replacement of the railroad bridge crossing over Highway 12, just south of the Delano American Legion. Additional road and utility work will also take place on Highway 12 from the railroad bridge north to the area of Ranchers Auto.

Plans initially called for the second phase of the project to begin in February/March of 2009, taking about a 12-week period to replace the bridge. Then, the remaining utility and road work would take place from July to September 2009.

While the roadwork portion of the plan remains the same, officials hope by doing part of the railroad bridge work yet this fall while the Highway 12 detour is still in effect will possibly alleviate some concerns about the detour timeline and duration.

“We were pleased to hear the change,” Kern said, adding the railroad is proposing breaking up the 12-week period to replace the bridge into two phases. The first phase would take place this fall, and would consist of pilings being driven for the new bridge over a six-week period.

Beginning in late October or early November of this year, depending on the opening of the newly-constructed Highway 12 bridge crossing the Crow River, the railroad wants to begin this pile driving process, utilizing the existing detour that is already in place for a majority of Highway 12 traffic.

During the first week of the six- week period, it is expected there will be an official detour in place from the west in Montrose, heading south on Highway 25 to the four-way stop, and then east on Wright County Road 30 into Delano and onto Highway 12. This is to allow for the site to become mobilized and set up for pile driving, Kern said. Since the new Highway 12 bridge will be open, traffic can flow east and west through town, and then west on Wright County Road 30.

Once everything is in place for the piling process, the detour will be lifted, and crews will be able to work off the roadway. Once the pilings are driven, the site will be ready for final bridge replacement in May or June. Kern said this will be another six-week process, with most of the work to construct the bridge being done off-site, and then moving the bridge to the site to be installed.

“This eliminates a 12-week winter detour,” Kern said, adding it will now instead be a three-week detour while crews install the new railroad bridge and get everything in place.

City Council Member Brad Hotchkiss asked what the extent of the state’s detour would be for next year.

Kern said it would be the three weeks the railroad needs in May or June, and then also during the time frame the additional road and utility work takes place from July to September or October.

The initial MnDOT plan for this detour route was to pave Brighton Avenue west of Delano, with MnDOT paying for the upgrade.

According to the city’s web site, more recent conversations, however, have opened the door to the possibility that MnDOT may detour traffic in Montrose and head south on Highway 25 to Wright County Road 30. It was noted that access has to remain to businesses in that stretch of Highway 12.

Kern said specific contracts have not yet been awarded for the road and utility portion of the project for next summer.

Council Member Holly Schrupp also noted to make sure Stahlke Bus was aware of the plans so they can adjust their routes on the west side of Delano accordingly.

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