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A boon to bikes & snowmobiles

Halfway there: The culvert after sections were connected. Crews were working on back-filling and compacting the soil prior to repaving Highway 10. BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD

Motorists traveling on Highway 10 at the east edge of Detroit Lakes may have noticed that over the past couple of weeks, eastbound traffic has been diverted to one of the westbound lanes.

That’s because the Minnesota Department of Transportation is in the process of installing a box culvert beneath the highway, in preparation for construction of a new segment of the Heartland Trail from Detroit Lakes to Frazee. The culvert installation project began May 28.

“It was slow going at first, due to the weather,” said Seth Yliniemi, the MnDOT engineer serving as project manager for the culvert installation.

But once work on the temporary crossover lanes over the highway median was complete, things began progressing much more smoothly.

“The project’s moving right along now,” Yliniemi said.

The culvert sections on the eastbound side of the highway are now in place, he added, and construction crews are now in the process of backfilling over the top of the culverts in preparation for paving.

“They will pave over it next week, then switch traffic over to those new eastbound lanes,” Yliniemi said.

Once that is done, excavation of the westbound side of the highway will begin, after which another culvert will be installed and the road re-paved above it. If the weather cooperates, the project should be substantially completed by the end of the month.

“The goal is to get the majority of the work done by July 4,” Yliniemi said.

The culvert opening is 14 feet wide by 13 feet high, though by the time the new bike trail is installed, “it will end up being a 12-foot clearance,” he added. “The reason why the culvert needs to be that big is to allow the groomer to run through it.

“It’s a multi-purpose trail,” Yliniemi continued, noting that snowmobilers should be able to use the new highway underpass this coming winter.

“Hopefully the weather cooperates so we can keep moving on this and get it finished up in a timely manner, so we’re not disrupting traffic too long out there,” he added.

The box culvert project is being funded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Once installed, it will provide a safe crossing under Highway 10 for bicyclists, pedestrians and snowmobilers, and will eventually connect with the future Heartland Trail route through the City of Detroit Lakes.

Vicki Gerdes, Detroit Lakes Tribune

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