Bridge Ave. access limited this week
By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN The next five days will likely be the toughest for Delano of this construction period, as crews prepare to do deep utility work on Bridge Avenue, limiting access into downtown Delano and across the Crow River bridge.
In his update to the task force, Delano City Administrator Phil Kern said crews have been working on utilities specifically in the area of the newly-constructed railroad bridge on Highway 12 and north to the Bridge Avenue intersection.
The week of July 27, Kern said, will prove to be interesting as crews will move to Bridge Avenue, just west of the bridge crossing the Crow River.
“This is the week we’ve been talking about,” Kern said, noting access will be very limited during that time as cuts need to be made 9 to 10 feet deep for utilities. Some sort of access will need to be maintained in the event of an emergency, Kern added.
“The best thing we can hope for is a dry week next week,” he said. After the utility work is completed in that area, Kern said there is a small amount of additional utility work needing to take place in the construction area, then utility work should be completed.
Task force co-chairperson Wendy Gilmer reiterated Kern’s statement that the week of July 27, access across the river bridge on Bridge Avenue will likely not be possible.
“People need to be prepared for that,” Kern said, adding that in the contract, there are only five days the contractor is allowed to have access restricted or closed across that bridge.
Kern admitted it becomes a tough balance of wanting the contractor to get the job done as quickly as possible, and said traffic going through the construction zone slows progress.
“Likewise, we don’t want to see businesses struggle, so we’re trying to balance that,” Kern said.
It was also noted that during the one-week period Bridge Avenue will have limited access, the Highway 12 corridor under the newly-constructed railroad bridge northbound should be passable for access to businesses on Delano’s west side.
Traffic is routed to downtown Delano from Highway 12 via Tiger Drive to Elm Avenue and then into the downtown area.
General concerns addressed
Discussion took place during introductions at the task force meeting about the presence of Minnesota State Troopers monitoring traffic attempting to get through the work zone.
Rick Schaffer of USAquatics in Delano said he told the state trooper who was working near the bridge where he had to go, and the trooper let him through.
Marilyn Brossard of the Delano American Legion Family said she has great concerns about people being able to get to the Legion during this construction period.
Delano True Value Hardware Store Manager Mike Beise said he doesn’t see the customers from the west like he used to, and said it’s hard instructing delivery trucks on how to get to the store, as the best route may change from day to day.
Paul Kliewer, the owner of Delano Subway, said this year, his business has had a large revenue increase from last year, but admitted last year was not a good year due to the construction. He said, across the state, Subway’s average business is down 6.8 percent from a year ago.
“We’re very happy to have the front of our store back open and be back to business as usual,” Kliewer said. Subway also did a remodel of its store last year.
Coborn’s Manager Joe Tipka said he had concern of the state troopers not letting people through when it was appropriate, but said that concern has diminished.
“I think the meeting we had was positive,” Tipka said of the emergency task force meeting that was called two weeks ago to address access concerns.
It was noted that the trooper presence will end July 24.
At the meeting, those present discussed signage options that the task force is working on in conjunction with Herald Journal Sign and Graphics that will assist in directing consumers to businesses. The signs were placed Thursday morning.
Additional signage discussion took place among the task force members, as well as concerns over drivers speeding on Farmington Avenue.
The township connection
Franklin Township Supervisor Bill McMullen explained to those in attendance at the task force meeting that an issue arose on the first day the detour was implemented with law enforcement blocking through traffic and funneling it into the township to 72nd Street and Davidson Avenue.
He said traffic counts were done and showed that between 300 and 400 vehicles per hour were going through that intersection. The township had concerns about this from a safety perspective, as the railroad intersection is uncontrolled, and does not have stop arms in the event a train passes through.
He said township officials took their concerns to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), and the issues seem to have been resolved with less traffic funneling through on Davidson Avenue.
“Things have calmed down,” McMullen said, noting that the township roads are open to local traffic and he said the township wants to do its part to help support businesses during the construction period.
He said the township has regraded Davidson Avenue and has also put another layer of dustcoating down on the roadway. He added the township has indicated to MnDOT it will keep track of extraordinary expenses associated with road maintenance and will seek reimbursement from MnDOT.
“We’re part of the team, too,” McMullen said. “We’ll just have to get through it.”
Next task force meeting Aug. 4
The next meeting of the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce’s Highway 12 Task Force is set to take place Tuesday, Aug. 4, beginning at 8:50 a.m. at the State Bank of Delano’s lower level meeting room. Anyone with concerns regarding the project may attend.