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Construction wrapping up for the year

Many street projects in Blue Earth coming to the final stages

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Oct 3, 2021

Blue Earth citizens have watched the progress of various construction projects around town for most of the summer. As fall approaches, orange cones and signs are nearing their departure from countless Blue Earth streets.

“They all have some work to do, but I’d say in a couple of weeks, the construction activity will definitely be quieter,” shares Benjamin Rosol, project engineer at Bolton and Menk.

“I’d say we’re ahead of schedule,” Rosol continues. “The weather helped a lot this year. We had probably four or five rainy days this construction season. Being able to stay on-site and get work done helps a lot.”

Rosol also shares the status of specific street improvement projects around Blue Earth.

“The main project would be Walnut Street, Hood Street, and Third Street,” Rosol explains. “A lot of the sod has been placed in that area, which is kind of the last step of the project. There is a little more concrete work left to do.”

Rosol adds, “Nothing is completely done, but we’re getting closer.”

Rosol also communicates updates about another area of town which has been torn up throughout most of the summer.

“There is still a little work left to be done on 10th Street and Nicollet Street,” he says. “We’re looking to pave those streets in the middle of next week.”

Rosol continues, “Once we get the paving and concrete done, they’ll finish doing the boulevard restoration, and that’s the last step of the project.”

The Safe Routes to School project, a program funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation which seeks to improve the safety of children’s routes to school, is also rapidly approaching completion.

“That one we’re about 95 percent done with,” Rosol says. “The sidewalk is done, all restoration is done. We just have to do some striping and signage.”

One hold-up the project has experienced involves receiving a permit from the Union Pacific Railroad to work on Main Street, where the railroad crossing is located.

“We’ve been trying to get that for quite a while, and haven’t made a lot of progress,” Rosol admits. “We’re just waiting for them to give the final approval.”

While the Safe Routes to School project is being funded by two grants, as well as some funds obtained through a local match, the rest of the street improvement projects around town are funded through city utility fees and assessments to pay off construction bonds.

When asked whether the projects have been carried out to cost, Rosol replies, “We’re doing good on price. There hasn’t been anything that’s caused us to have to pay more.”

Rosol explains several steps are taken to determine which Blue Earth streets need improvements each year.

“You look at the condition of the street, the surface of it, and figure out the age of the pipework under the street,” Rosol says. “That’s the biggest factor: failing underground infrastructure.”

Rosol acknowledges pipework can become a big issue when not attended to in a timely manner.

“Nicollet wouldn’t have lasted another year, it was so bad,” Rosol admits of its pipework.

Rosol adds other factors drive the discussion of yearly street improvement projects, as well. “There’s a street committee, and they meet periodically.”

He continues, “Between the street committee and the city we have a list, and a five year plan. Projects rotate in and out depending upon condition and what needs to be done to keep the pipe in use for the residents living on the street.”

While no concrete decisions have been made regarding next year’s street improvement projects yet, Rosol shares discussions are well underway.

“More updates on next year’s projects are coming on Monday (Oct. 4), at the council meeting. The city is looking to continue construction next year on several more blocks in town.”

Rosol says he is grateful to Blue Earth residents for their cooperation with the many projects which have been underway all summer.

“They were all really patient and accommodating with this project,” Rosol says. “I hope they end up getting a nice street that they can use for many years to come.”

Rosol concludes, “Overall, it ended up being a good project.”