By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Members of the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce’s Highway 12 task force learned Tuesday morning from the railroad that plans are on schedule for the replacement of the bridge crossing Highway 12 in Delano.
Travis Roma, who is the structures supervisor of Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s Twin Cities division, spoke at the meeting, giving updates on the project and answering questions.
“I know the major thing is the road closure coming up that starts May 4 and goes until, I believe, the 14th or 19th of June,” Roma said.
Roma explained the railroad is widening the span of the bridge to be 92 feet, and said the bridge will remain one lane. He said the steel for the new bridge is expected to be delivered Thursday, May 21. Issues with flooding in Fargo delayed this slightly, Roma said.
Up until that time, it is likely the roadway will be open to traffic during evening hours and on weekends.
“Once the steel gets in place, that’s where things may change,” Roma said, but noted the railroad is going to try to keep the roadway open as much as possible. After that, it is the hope the roadway can be opened again at night and over weekends.
“Memorial Day weekend, it’ll be open for the three-day weekend,” Roma said with a laugh. “We don’t want anybody shooting at us.”
In early June, the railroad will set the steel span in place, Roma said. There is an expected 24-hour period for that step when the road will be completely closed and that there will be a lot of equipment in the roadway.
From there, the old bridge pieces will be hauled out via truck, and then the new bridge span will be set in place. After that, Roma said clean-up week is scheduled for June 14, and he said he’s expecting the project to be completed by Friday, June 19. He said pile driving was expected to be done late last week, which will reduce the amount of noise coming from the area.
After Roma spoke to the task force, questions were asked of him from the audience.
Steve Gilmer of State Bank of Delano asked how the signage is going to be done to show that the roadway was either open or closed.
Roma said the road will have signage indicating it is closed at all times, but said on nights and weekends, when the barricades are down, drivers can pass through there.
“Once we put the detour signs up, the signs will stay in place,” Roma said.
A question was asked if the new bridge will be wide enough to allow for four lanes of traffic underneath it.
Delano City Administrator Phil Kern answered that it would.
“The width is designed to accommodate two lanes in each direction, so they won’t be back rebuilding,” Kern said.
Train traffic was also addressed, and Roma said train traffic will be stopped for one major 20-hour window of time, where trains will be backed up on both sides. He said it will then take several days for them to filter out. Other than that, there should be no delays in train traffic.
“We’re working under traffic right now train traffic is still moving,” he said. “That’s why the bridge takes a little bit longer. We still have trains to run that’s how BNSF makes its money. It’s not building bridges it’s on running trains.”
The speed of those trains going through Delano was also discussed, and Roma said there is a temporary 25 mile per hour “slow order” in place for the bridge. In time, an upgrade may be done that would allow trains to pass through Delano at 60 miles per hour. Right now, the speed is 40 miles per hour, Kern noted.
Roma also explained this bridge is being built differently than normal.
“We’re building the center first and then the ends,” he explained. “Usually when you rebuild a bridge, you’d start at one end and just go across.”
But, he said, being it’s a single track and not being able to reroute train traffic, it’s more efficient to have it built in three phases.
Overall, Roma said the existing bridge spanning Highway 12 was in good shape, but needed replacement for Minnesota Department of Transportation’s widening of Highway 12.
“This bridge was in great shape,” Roma said. “This was a really good bridge.”
He said it’s tough anytime a road needs to be closed for any reason, and said Highway 12 through Delano is a good route.
“I appreciate everybody’s understanding with it everybody’s been really good,” Roma said. “I do appreciate everybody’s ability to work with us on this.”
If there are concerns, or for more information on the project, Roma can be reached at (320) 231-7720 at his office. Leave a message and calls will be returned.
Alternate route for traffic set up
In conjunction with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s Highway 12 railroad bridge reconstruction in Delano, the alternate route will begin today, Monday, May 4, according to the Minnesota Department of Tranportation.
Highway 12 traffic will be detoured until late June. Eastbound traffic will be detoured in Montrose and directed south on Highway 25, then east on Wright County Road 30 to Highway 12 in Delano. Westbound motorists will reverse that route. Access to businesses in the area will be available.
Motorists are urged to drive with caution, watch for the signed detour and be prepared for sudden stops, according to MnDOT.
Chamber’s task force to continue to meet
The Delano Area Chamber of Commerce’s Highway 12 Task Force will meet again Tuesday, May 12 at the State Bank of Delano’s lower level meeting room. Meetings are open to the public.
It was also noted the task force fundraising dinner that was scheduled for May 1 at Three Crows Cafe and Coffee House was postponed until a later date.