Summer slowdown: Construction will improve Highways 78, 10 and other roads, but expect detours and travel delays in the meantime
It may not seem like it yet, but summer is just around the corner, and that means it’s almost the season for road construction.
Some local highways are slated for major work this year, and travelers should be aware of delays and detours.
More than 300 total construction projects to improve highways, bridges and other infrastructure around the state are scheduled for 2013, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced last week. Several of those will or could have a direct impact on travelers in East Otter Tail County.
Those who regularly use Highway 78 south of Perham will feel the inconvenience most, as the highway will be resurfaced from Perham all the way down to Battle Lake – a 26 mile stretch. But other projects involving Highway 10 and Interstate 94 could also impact local drivers.
This highway is the main thoroughfare – and only direct route – between Perham, Ottertail and Battle Lake, and detours will add a considerable amount of travel time.
The two-stage project will begin in mid-August, starting with the stretch of Highway 78 between Perham and Ottertail; work between Ottertail and Battle Lake will begin in late August, after stage one is complete (so there will only be one detour at a time).
According to Seth Yliniemi, a regional project engineer and manager for MnDOT, the first stage should take about two weeks; the second – especially the construction in downtown Battle Lake – will take longer. More specific dates will be released in early May, after the project has been let.
During stage one, thru traffic from Perham will be rerouted east to New York Mills on Highway 10, then southwest back to Ottertail using County Roads 67 and 52. For stage two, drivers will travel south out of Ottertail on Highway 108, then connect with Highway 210 west to go through Henning, Vining and Clitherall before reaching Battle Lake. These detours will more than double the normal travel time.
There will also be a detour around the downtown area of Battle Lake, which is undergoing a “Complete Streets” reconstruction as a part of this project.
The full stretch of Highway 78 will still be open to local traffic during the construction, said Yliniemi, but drivers should still allow for extra travel time. There will be lane closures along the highway, with a pilot car winding traffic caravans through the work zones.
The construction will not reach into Perham city limits, but will end where Highway 78 meets Highway 10.
The construction is tentatively scheduled to be complete in October, and will result in a smoother road and more accessible intersections. There will be a public meeting about the project in July.
Travelers should also be aware of a resurfacing project from Perham to New York Mills along Highway 10.
This project, scheduled to start in July and end by August (exact dates are not yet known), will mean lane closures and could slow things down, especially at high traffic times.
Other roadwork is planned for Highway 10, as well. East of Detroit Lakes, starting in May, there will be lane closures and crossovers while crews install a box culvert. That work is expected to be done sometime in June.
There will also be lane closures throughout the summer around Hawley and Lake Park, to install signals, lighting and make other enhancements.
Those who travel between Otter Tail County and the Twin Cities will be impacted by a major resurfacing project along Interstate 94 between St. Cloud and Clearwater.
Since April 1, and continuing through July, I-94 is reduced to a single lane in both directions 24-hours per day, and drivers should expect mild to moderate backups during commuter rush hours. During peak travel periods, drivers should plan for potential backups of 20 miles or more.
The lanes will be reopened for the Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends. Starting July 8, the lane closures will become intermittent.
Also along I-94, north of Fergus Falls, the bridge decks over County Road 21 will be resurfaced. This will create crossovers in this area, with two-lane, two-way traffic between July and August.
In all, MnDOT is investing $1.1 billion into the state transportation system this year, including 193 projects in greater Minnesota and 87 in the metro area. An additional 57 projects statewide will improve safety at railroad crossings, repair seawalls and docks, make improvements on runways and terminals at regional airports, and improve transit centers.
For the safety of road crews, MnDOT asks travelers to be alert on the roads this summer.
For more information, visit www.mndot.gov/construction. For up-to-date information on traffic and road conditions, check ww.511mn.org.