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Summer of 2013 won’t be pretty

By Staff | Jul 8, 2012

It won’t be pretty.

While recent street and utility reconstruction projects in Blue Earth the past four years or so have been easily avoided (unless you lived there), next year’s project will be harder to miss.

It is, of course, the reconstruction of Highway 169 nearly the full length of its passage through Blue Earth.

Slated to take all summer, the project will have a major impact on the whole community.

What Blue Earth resident does not travel on or cross Highway 169 at least once a week?

It is, of course, the major artery into and out of this city.

Ripping it up for a whole summer will be huge.

Besides a big headache for most of us Blue Earth residents, business owners on the state highway will be the most dramatically affected.

The plan is to try and keep at least some type of access to all businesses during the period of the construction.

Most of that access will be from alleys and side streets, but it will also include some front door access while construction happens elsewhere along the road.

Access is one thing, of course, but actually having customers brave the different routes to get to the stores is another.

I?would urge loyal customers of the businesses along 169 to stay just that loyal. Hopefully many of us will realize that these businesses will need our support next summer even more so than usual.

And, I know some of us will even go out of our way (literally) to continue to patronize them.

Getting customers in might be difficult enough. Getting merchandise in could be even tougher. Moving big trucks in and out could take some extra effort.

One business in particular is already trying to plan how to operate efficiently all next summer.

Seneca Foods.

They have hundreds of trucks coming in every summer pack season. They bring in the harvested peas and corn, and haul out the filled cans.

Luckily, the Highway 169 construction ends right about at their entrance to the Seneca warehouse.

But, that does mean all their truck traffic has to either come in from the south, or else up Seventh Street from the west.

They, like many other Highway 169 businesses, have been making plans for some time for the summer of 2013.

Some are fixing up side or back entrances. Others are trying to look ahead as best they can, but wondering all the while what it actually will be like.

We will all know soon enough.

Other issues include those three roundabouts. While much has been said and written about the plusses and minuses of the things, there is one other important item to think about.

Constructing the three will mean those intersections will be tied up and impassable for more days than normal as the roundabouts are built.

MnDOT officials have repeatedly said they will try and keep this collateral damage to as minimal an amount as possible.

The whole stretch of Highway 169 from near Interstate 90 to the north to the cemetery entrance to the south is going to be affected.

But not the whole thing for the entire summer, officials promise.

They say as much of the road as possible will be kept open as much of the time as possible.

Intersections will be able to be crossed much of the time, albeit on gravel.

Signage will be put up to direct motorists as to where and where not they can drive. As well as signs that will help direct customers to their favorite stores and restaurants along the highway.

I sure hope that comes true. The businesses are going to need all the help they can get.

But, there is no way to get around this. It won’t be pretty.

That entire stretch will be torn up, some new utilities installed underground, and the whole length resurfaced.

Roundabouts will be built. The road will go from four lane in some places to two lane the whole length. New sidewalks and walkways will be installed.

While the process won’t be pretty, I hope and pray the result is very pretty.

It will give the city a whole new look, a whole new sparkle to its major entrances. Even those roundabouts are going to be attractive, the designers say.

There will be trees and shrubs and grass planted, and all new street lights installed along the length of the project.

It may not only be pretty, it might be gorgeous.