By Ivan Raconteur
Pond installation and widening of the roadway between Highway 25 and Carver County Road 10 are the latest phase of the Highway 7 construction project, MnDOT Engineer Kelly Brunkhorst said during the weekly project update Wednesday.
The road is being widened to accommodate passing lanes.
Neaton Brothers Erosion Control is installing erosion control measures throughout the project area.
Pavement removal continues at the intersection of Highway 7 and County Road 10, where the first of two roundabouts will be built.
Bituminous removal has been started from McLeod County Road 15 and Eagle Avenue, and this work was expected to continue through last week.
Once the pavement has been removed and power poles are relocated, deep organic excavation (also described as “muck excavation”) will be started.
This will involve removing material to a depth of 20 to 25 feet from beneath the road bed.
Regional MnDOT engineer Dave Johnson said the material in this area is “Like a sponge you can’t build anything over the top of it.”
Once this material has been removed, the area will be rebuilt with suitable fill.
The installation of culvert liners and some new culverts in the project area from Silver Lake to St. Bonifacious will continue.
One resident who attended the meeting asked if residents along Highway 7 were allowed to drive on the highway.
Brunkhorst said MnDOT is asking people to go to the nearest crossroad that is suitable for driving on before entering or exiting the highway.
“If you are pulled over, you will have to justify where you are,” Johnson commented.
Charlie Burns, who is in charge of maintenance for Hollywood Township, asked how much more utility work the contractor will be doing.
He noted that the township has a permitting process in place for any work on or above township roads.
Brunkhorst asked for a copy of the policy, and said most utility work is done within MnDOT’s right-of-way.
James Pawelk of New Germany asked about the purpose behind building the two roundabouts, and how they will be kept clear of snow in the winter.
Brunkhorst said studies have shown that the roundabouts are safer and improve traffic flow.
“We may have drifting problems, and we will deal with them if they happen,” Johnson said.
In response to a question about whether MnDOT intends to do any public education about roundabouts, Brunkhorst said MnDOT has done a lot of public presentations explaining and promoting roundabouts, but could do more if necessary.
“It is difficult to make a mistake,” Brunkhorst said, adding that the roundabouts are designed to channel traffic into the correct position, and signs and road striping help to direct motorists.
On a positive note, Burns complimented the contractor for quickly responding to concerns about damage to township roads that he brought up during the April 23 meeting.
“All the issues from last week have been resolved. Knife River did a nice job putting in an approach,” Burns said.
One resident asked about temporarily lowering the speed limit on a road that is receiving additional traffic as a result of the project.
Brunkhorst said speed limits are set by the state.
Sgt. Dave Potts of the Carver County Sheriff’s office said officers are aware that there is more traffic on some alternate routes, and added that if residents have a concern about an issue on a particular road, they can call the sheriff’s dispatch center and ask that the message be passed on to patrol.
“We handle this as an extra patrol request,” Potts said.
Mayer City Administrator Luayn Murphy urged residents to be patient during the project.
“We are all inconvenienced by this. We just have to make the best of it until the end of the season and hope that things go smoothly,” Murphy commented.