It's finally going to happen.
Construction on the Highway 169 reconstruction project through Blue Earth is slated to begin today, Monday, June 10.
At a public information open house on Wednesday, officials from Bolton and Menk Engineering, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Ulland Brothers Construction were on hand to answer questions from several dozen members of the public.
The first step of the project is expected to begin Monday and will be the installation of a "crossover lane" on Highway 169, just north of the intersection by McDonald's and Walmart.
"This lane will be necessary in order to divert traffic to the detour," Andy Erickson of Ulland Brothers Construction says. "That intersection will be closed, so traffic on Highway 169 will be detoured east to County Road 11, then back west into Blue Earth near the Seventh Street crossing."
However, traffic will detour around the back side of Kwik Trip, because that intersection of Seventh and Highway 169, by Seneca Foods and Hanson Auto, will be closed as well.
A roundabout at that intersection is the first thing scheduled to be built. "We have a 60-day schedule to get that roundabout built," says Susan Museus, MnDOT's project manager on the Highway 169 reconstruction.
After the roundabout is completed, that intersection will open back up. However, traffic will not be able to go north for quite some time as the road is rebuilt from Kwik Trip north to McDonald's and two more roundabouts are installed.
Both MnDOT and Ulland Brothers Construction officials said that traffic will always be able to cross over Highway 169 at either the Fifth or Sixth street crossings while construction continues.
Blue Earth city councilman John Huisman pointed out that the railroad crossings on those two streets have not been reopened after a derailment there some time ago.
"We need to be putting pressure on the railroad to get these crossings repaired," Huisman says. "That is critical to this project."
Officials agreed, saying the crossings are on streets that are part of the detour plans.
Besides Tuesday's public information meeting, MnDOT is planning a weekly update meeting, on Wednesdays at 11 a.m., for anyone with questions and for an update on each week's work schedule.
Or, citizens can visit a special website set up with information on the project at www.dot.state.mn.us/d7/ projects/169blueearth.
At the website are detailed maps of all the detours that will be used, as well as construction updates.
By Friday, crews expect to begin concrete and pavement removal at the Seventh Street intersection, as well as utility work there.
Weather providing, of course.