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Highway 371: Residents turn out for project update

Area residents packed the Cole Memorial Building in Pequot Lakes on Friday to hear about the $49.9 million Highway 371 four-lane expansion project that's designed to improve safety and traffic mobility.

Mike Langer, with Mathiowetz Construction, explains a part of the Highway 371 four-lane expansion project to some of those who attended an open house Friday, April 15, at the Cole Memorial Building in Pequot Lakes. Photo by Nancy Vogt
Mike Langer, with Mathiowetz Construction, explains a part of the Highway 371 four-lane expansion project to some of those who attended an open house Friday, April 15, at the Cole Memorial Building in Pequot Lakes. Photo by Nancy Vogt

Area residents packed the Cole Memorial Building in Pequot Lakes on Friday to hear about the $49.9 million Highway 371 four-lane expansion project that's designed to improve safety and traffic mobility.

The project encompasses nine miles from just north of Crow Wing County Road 18 in Nisswa to just north of County Road 16 in Jenkins. It includes a new alignment in Pequot Lakes, where the highway will go east of downtown.

Representatives of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, along with project contractors WSB & Associates and Mathiowetz Construction, used maps that lined the walls to answer people's questions and explain the project. Derek Schmidt of WSB & Associates shared a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted the highway project twice during the open house. He also took questions from those watching the PowerPoint.

Schmidt explained the design-build aspect of the project, which means designers work on little pieces at a time and the contractor starts working on each piece when the design is final. This means the project moves along faster.

Schmidt outlined work to be done in 2016, saying traffic along the current Highway 371 route won't be affected much this year. This year, plans are to construct the new northbound lanes of highway and the County Road 11 overpass bridge in Pequot Lakes, and realign a few portions of the Paul Bunyan Trail.

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In 2017, plans are to reconstruct the old roadway and connect it to the new roadway, as well as to complete trail connections. This is when traffic interruptions will occur, Schmidt said.

Highway 371 will be open to traffic at all times. Business access will be maintained and open. Motorists may encounter shoulder closures, narrow lanes or lane shifts. There may be periodic lane closures with flagger operations and local access road closures with detours.

Drivers on Highway 371 will see lots of construction in close proximity to the existing highway and again are being asked not to gawk at the heavy moving machines, but rather to focus on driving safely. Safety is the No. 1 priority, and motorists are asked to give the crews room.

"I can't stress it enough. You need to pay attention to what you are doing," said Dave Domm, project manager with Mathiowetz Construction.

During construction, crews will push nearly 2 million cubic yards of material around. Excavators and heavy duty trucks will be using the current highway to haul materials, and they drive slower. Work also includes 89 miles of underground utility relocation.

 

Wood chips

Tree clearing and wood chipping along the corridor is 99 percent complete. All wood chips - around 50,000 yards - will be reused on the project for a wick drain platform at Cullen Brook and erosion control along the entire corridor.

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At the end of the project, the wood chips will be mixed with the soil as seed bed to help seed grow faster and stabilize slopes.

 

For more information

Visit  www.mndot.gov/d3/hwy371  for recent news, detours, maps, photos and contact information and to sign up for email updates.

Call the project hotline at 218-568-4661 and leave a message. Your call will be returned within one business day.

As seen from Tree Farm Road, construction crews work on the new alignment of Highway 371 east of downtown Pequot Lakes on Friday, April 15. Photo by Nancy Vogt
As seen from Tree Farm Road, construction crews work on the new alignment of Highway 371 east of downtown Pequot Lakes on Friday, April 15. Photo by Nancy Vogt

Related Topics: NISSWAPEQUOT LAKESJENKINS
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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