By Ryan Gueningsman
“Delano is open for business.”
A slogan that has been established by a group of business owners preparing for the upcoming Highway 12 construction project in Delano will become very useful as businesses gear up for the loss of traffic traveling by.
About 20 business owners and representatives met Tuesday morning for a kick off to the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce’s Highway 12 task force.
Project construction is slated to begin Tuesday, April 1, and will include the reconstruction of the highway through the city, as well as the replacement of the bridge crossing the Crow River. This phase of construction is set to be completed in November 2008.
A second phase, set for 2009, will redo the railroad bridge that spans across Highway 12, as well as widen the corridor through town as it heads northwest toward Montrose.
Along with stressing that businesses located along the Highway 12 corridor construction route will be open during the construction, members of the task force also discussed a number of avenues to ensure the businesses and the community of Delano make it through the project.
Marketing the message “Delano is open for business” through local media, bag stuffers at Coborn’s, and other issues were discussed. Access to those businesses located on Highway 12 and maps, along with truck traffic into the industrial park and downtown areas of Delano were also discussed by the task force.
Delano Postmaster Larry Mattson said the construction will affect four of his six routes that serve Delano. He expressed concern about communication of when certain parts of the project will be going on, as well as the moving of mailboxes that may be affected by construction.
Mattson also said safety of his carriers is a big conern, and that they enter and exit town three or four times a day.
Julie Bernick, owner of Stahlke Bus Service, said her company has also been preparing for the upcoming construction, and has concerns about busses getting out of her garage and onto County Line Road with the increase of traffic in front of her business due to the detour. Concerns about the speed limit on County Line Road were also brought up, noting the posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour.
Bernick said the key to a successful project is direct communication with the contractor and Minnesota Department of transportation (MnDOT) officials throughout the project.
State Bank of Delano President Steve Gilmer said his business will be one of the least impacted by the upcoming construction, and feels it’ll mainly affect businesses located west of the bank.
Attorney Dick Grinley of Grinley and Tukua, who has an office on River Street, said he’s getting word to his clients that his office is available to meet them at locations of their choice, instead of having his clients come to his office during the detour period.
It has been noted that people wanting to get to businesses located west of the stoplight at County Line Road and Highway 12 to the Crow River bridge will need to continue west on Highway 12, but that it will not be open to through traffic.
Alternate routes to get to businesses located west of the Crow River bridge are also being established, including a new city street that will be constructed before the Highway 12 and Wright County Road 30 intersection is closed.
This new street will run from Rockford Avenue (just north of Peppermint Twist, curving south and proceeding south to Wright County Road 30 where the new Wright County Road 16 alignment will be.
The City of Delano has been meeting last week with business owners along the Highway 12 corridor in an effort to determine concerns before a pre-construction meeting takes place with the city, contractor, MnDOT, and others involved in the project. Several more meetings are scheduled for this week (see sidebar).
A number of sub-committees were formed to bring ideas on advertising/marketing, safety concerns, and sharing resources and working together to support each other’s businesses to a follow-up meeting Wednesday, March 12 at 9 a.m. at State Bank of Delano.
Task force co-chairperson John Tackaberry of Star West Chevrolet-Honda said the main thing is to remain positive, and do this “as one Delano.”
“It was a very proactive meeting,” commented co-chairperson Wendy Gilmer of State Bank of Delano. “All of the businesses seem very interested in working togehter, and understand this is something we’re in it together.”
For more informaion on the chamber’s Highway 12 task force, contact Delano Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Koenecke at (763) 972-6756 or e-mail email@example.com.
Upcoming meetings for Hwy. 12 construction
The City of Delano has been meeting with business owners along the Highway 12 corridor, and has several more meetings set up this week.
• for businesses located in the downtown Delano area Tuesday, March 4 at 2 p.m. at Three Crows on River Street.
• for businesses located west of the Crow River bridge to Bridge Avenue Wednesday, March 5 at 9 a.m. at the Delano City Hall.
• for those interested or already a part of the chamber’s Highway 12 task force Wednesday, March 12 at 9 a.m. at the State Bank of Delano’s lower level meeting room.
Invitations to the meetings hosted by the city have been sent out. If an invitation has not been received, contact the city hall at (763) 972-0550.
At the next regular Delano Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday, march 20, the city will present its annual “State of the City” address, which will focus heavily on the Highway 12 construction project.
Reviewing the detour route
Not far behind most road construction projects come detour routes Delano is no different.
The detour is set to be in place Tuesday, April 15 through Saturday, Nov. 15.
The detour route for through traffic, which was established by MnDOT, has remained unchanged since 2006, when the city granted its municipal consent of the reconstruction project, Delano City Administrator Phil Kern said in a memo to the council several weeks ago.
Under state law, MnDOT can establish detour routes for its projects without municipal approval, but Kern said MnDOT has worked with the city to come up with the most effective way of detouring traffic from April through November during the project.
The planned detour will utilize four county roads that surround Delano to the east and north. Westbound traffic coming toward Delano from Independence will be detoured at the stoplight near Delano Crossings, north on County Line Road.
At the four-way stop on Wright County Road 30, traffic will be detoured west to Wright County Road 17 (River Street) south.
When travelers reach downtown Delano, they will head west again on Bridge Avenue, crossing the bridge over the Crow River, and back to Highway 12 at the stoplight near the Delano American Legion.
On the detour route, several areas of concern have been pointed out. One such area is on Wright County Road 30 near the school entrance at Tiger Drive. Kern said the contract for construction requires the contractor to hire traffic control at Tiger Drive during construction hours.
Most likely, this will involve a uniformed sheriff’s deputy at the intersection, directing traffic in the morning and afternoon.
Concerns have also been brought forward about the intersection of Elm Avenue and Country Lane off of County Line Road.
Both of these residential roads intersect with County Line Road, but there are no turn lanes or shoulders to accommodate turning vehicles. Kern said both roads could be used as shortcuts to the detour route by travelers looking for a quicker, more direct route through the city.
Because of these concerns, the city had previously included a closure of both intersections in the plans for the detour route.