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MnDOT unveils central MN projects list for 2019 construction season

Road construction on South Sixth Street in south Brainerd in 2018. For construction season 2019, Minnesota motorists will look to contend with as many as 221 projects across the state. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo1 / 2
A map detailing Central Region District 3 -- which includes the Brainerd lakes area -- as well as construction projects planned for the upcoming 2019 construction season. Affected roads and bridges are designated in orange and blue respectively. Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Click on the image to view the entire graphic.2 / 2

It's here again.

Orange spangled ribbons, traffic cones, heavy diesel equipment, hard hats and towering piles of earth—the whole works. Construction season 2019 is upon us.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has unveiled 221 construction projects it's planning to tackle this year—projects that, it should be noted, are in various stages of development—so it might be a good idea to hunker down for a few minutes, consult the map and prepare for the inevitable detours, complications and roadblocks.

J.P. Gillach, the public affairs representative for MnDOT Region District 3, said these changes are largely prompted by the decrepit status of the roadways. In short, the most substantial projects the state is tackling this year are at the most damaged or rough-shaped stetches.

"They're shot," he said during a phone interview Thursday, April 4. "We look for opportunities to make improvements, where we can improve safety and improve traffic flow in a cost-effective way. That's where we go beyond just replacing the pavement."

Here's a quick rundown:

Highway 210—Brainerd to Ironton

From Pine Shores Road in Brainerd, to 7th Avenue in Ironton, crews will be conducting a full depth reclamation over 11 miles of Highway 210, with a tentative start date set for the fourth week of July through October. Crews could be out preparing the stretch as early as June.

The estimated $6.8 million project entails a complete reconstruction of the roadway, all the way down to subterranean drainage, as well as the reconstruction or installation of turn lanes, intersections, bypass lanes, rumble strips and shoulders.

For this thoroughfare, the detour will be Highway 18/Oak Street east ot Brainerd to Highway 6, and Highway 6 north to Highway 210 in Deerwood and Crosby/Ironton. A temporary mini-roundabout is planned to be constructed at the intersection of Highway 210, east of Deerwood, to account for increased traffic flow.

Gillach advised drivers to account for upcoming detours and plan to take alternative routes outside the Brainerd-Ironton Highway 210 project—or any other construction projects taking place on Minnesota roadways this year, for that matter.

Highway 10—Wadena, intersection at Highway 71

Billed at an estimated $12.35 million, Highway 10 passing through Wadena (especially at the Highway 71 intersection) looks to get a substantial facelift over the next two years.

The project—slated for intermittent periods between May 2019 through October 2020—is expected to widen and reconstruct Highway 10 from east of Birch Avenue to east of County Highway 4. This includes the replacement of signal lights, down to the street where the road will be recontoured (such as new turn lanes) and a raised center median installed, down to the construction of subterranean infrastructure below the roadway.

"It's going to look a lot different," Gillach said.

No detour here, though motorists should expect driving commute changes and gravel surfaces while the project is underway.

Other projects

• Pedestrian Trail in Crosby. The city of Crosby is heading a project that will install a connection via the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail between Portsmouth Mine Lake and Croft Mine HIstorical Park. This entails installing the trail in a tunnel under Highway 6 (where MnDOT plays a role) starting in July, in an estimated $1 million project that looks to bolster pedestrian travel and safety. Motorists will be using a detour via county roads 30 and 31, and highways 6 and 210 during construction.

• Reconstructing Highway 6 between Emily and Outing. Billed to tackle 14 miles in all, the project looks to repave the road and improve access points south of Emily to Moritz Road northward to Outing. Motorists should expect daytime lane closures and flaggers during construction between July to September.

• Landscaping along Highway 371 between Nisswa to Jenkins. Gillach said this project is mostly superficial in that it improves adjoining contours and shoulders to the recently expanded stretch of four lanes between Nisswa and Jenkins. Aside from shoulder closures, motorists shouldn't experience difficulties and the project should be all tidied up by fall 2019.

• Replacing Highway 371 road signs from Little Falls to Baxter. A non-invasive project to install better, more visible signage along the thoroughfare during summer 2019.

• Highway 169 fixer-uppers. Projects include the restoration of the historic Pine-Hickory Lakes roadway parking area, which will be closed until completion sometime in 2019. There is also the restoration of the historic northbound bridge over a creek, along Mille Lacs Lake, between Highway 18 and the Garrison Public Water Access at Pike Point. Drivers can expect lane shifts and closures, with the project to be completed by July. Lastly, there is also the restoration of the historic bridge over White Fish Creek in Mille Lacs County should be conducted between May to October, with shoulder closures, narrow lanes and lane shifts to be anticipated.

Gabriel Lagarde

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