By Ivan Raconteur
Despite the fact that the Highway 7 construction project remains on schedule, some business owners in the construction zone expressed frustration about the project’s impact on their businesses.
Hollywood Ranch House owner Rod Heldt asked why such a large portion of Highway 7 was closed, and why the project had not been split into two sections, so one section could be finished before the next was closed. He asked if the whole project area was closed for the convenience of the contractor.
“It is difficult on businesses when traffic is detoured for nine months,” Heldt said.
Top Dog Country Club owner Jean Beuning agreed.
“It has a huge financial impact,” she said.
MnDOT representative Kelly Brunkhorst said it is possible that the project could have been scheduled differently, but that is not the way it was staged in the plan.
Heldt also questioned the pace of the work in his area.
“I don’t see a lot of trucks for the size of the project,” he commented.
Brunkhorst said work is being done in different parts of the project, and, because of the size of the project, the work is spread out, including crews working on the roundabout in the area of County Road 10, and other crews working in McLeod County between McLeod County Road 15 and Eagle Avenue. She said Mathiowetz Construction has 27 trucks working on the project.
Heldt also expressed concern about the speed of trucks that are hauling material on Highway 7 as part of the project.
He said the trucks have been traveling extremely fast, and he expressed concern about the safety of traffic crossing the highway.
Brunkhorst said the drivers should be abiding by posted speed limits even though the road is closed. She said she would pass this concern on to the contractors.
The bituminous plant is expected to arrive early this week, and will probably operate 10 hours per day until paving is complete from the roundabout at Carver County Road 10 east to St. Bonifacious, according to Knife River representative Vern Grazes.
The plant will then be removed until August.
Construction of curb and gutter at the County Road 10 roundabout was expected to be completed last week.
Brunkhorst said she expects County Road 10 to open Tuesday, July 8, and then, the Highway 25 intersection will be closed and construction of that roundabout will begin.
In other matters, a resident who lives on 190th Street near Lester Prairie said additional traffic resulting from the project is turning the road into a “dust bowl,” and he is unable to open windows in his residence because of clouds of dust generated by passing vehicles.
Brunkhorst said the first step is for the resident to contact the township board about dust control, and the township can then contact MnDOT to request “unofficial detour” status for the road. By following this process, the township can request reimbursement for dust control that is needed as a result of the project.
Excavation on eight of the 13 ponds in the project area has been completed.
Brunkhorst said from a construction standpoint, the Winstock Country Music Festival went well. MnDOT arranged for an extra deputy to patrol the area near Highway 7 and McLeod County Road 1 during the festival, and despite heavy construction traffic on Highway 7 and festival traffic on County Road 1, no incidents were reported.