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Planning for Highway 169 continues

By Staff | Jul 8, 2012

For once, roundabouts were not the main focus of a meeting concerning the reconstruction project of Highway 169 slated for next summer in Blue Earth.

Detours were the main topic.

The project is set to be done in three stages an engineer told members of the Blue Earth Street Committee and a special Highway 169 Committee on Thursday evening.

Aaron Warford of Bolton and Menk Engineering says work is expected to begin in May of 2013.

“Stage one is fairly minor and involves removing the traffic signal at the intersection near McDonald’s,” he says. “Plus preparing for the detours.”

Stage two is the major section of the project, from that intersection south to Sixth Street. In stage three, the intersection at Seventh Street and the highway south of that will be done, Warford says.

This will involve at least two different detours.

During stage two, the major portion of the reconstruction, traffic will be rerouted east to County Road 11, then back west into town on County Road 16. Traffic will still be using the Seventh Street intersection.

Stage two will take eight to 10 weeks to finish, Warford says, approximately from June through August. Stage three would start around Sept. 1 and take six to eight weeks.

During stage three, when the last roundabout is put in at Seventh Street, traffic is scheduled to be rerouted on Leland Parkway to Main, south on Main to Seventh, then over to 14th on Rice and back onto Highway 169.

Members of the committees at the meeting suggested an alternate route.

“If 169 is going to be open all the way south to Sixth Street, why not route traffic there, over to Rice and then 14th,” Street Committee member and city councilman Rick Scholtes suggested. “That would cut out having all that traffic on Main Street.”

Warford said he would take that under advisement and present it to MnDOT.

Another concern discussed at the meeting was truck traffic to Seneca.

During stage three, the entrance to Seneca off Highway 169 would be affected.

“You have that construction set for right during corn pack,” former Seneca manager Colleen Gronewald told Warford. “We have 100 to 150 trucks a day coming in and out of the plant at that time.”

The group suggested that a possible fourth stage to the project might be included to work around Seneca’s production schedule and Warford agreed.

Also being done is a bituminous overlay of the highway south of the cemetery to 14th Street and north of the Walmart/McDonald’s intersection past the Interstate 90 crossing.

“These will be done by the contractor without re-routing traffic,” Warford told the group. “They will just do one lane at a time.”

The meeting of the two committees with the engineers was in preparation for a public meeting on the Highway 169 project.

That meeting is set for this Wednesday, July 11 at 6 p.m. at the Public Safety Building. Warford will present an entire overview of the project, detours and work schedule.