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‘169’ upgrade sparks interest

November 8, 2012
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Questions were answered and citizens reassured Wednesday at an open house for the Highway 169 reconstruction project in Blue Earth.

A steady stream of people visited the city's Public Safety Building, curious about how construction, scheduled for 2013, will affect them.

Representatives of Bolton & Menk, the project engineer, took the input from citizens. John Witt used a display complete with pedestrians and toy 18-wheelers to illustrate how the roundabouts will work.

Pedestrians will only have one lane of traffic to cross at a time, instead of the whole highway. The inner ring of the roundabout will be built to allow the back wheels of semis to ride up so they can navigate the circular roadway comfortably.

"They are designed to handle larger farm vehicles as well as the semis," Witt said.

Construction plans are a work in progress and continues to change. The project involves rebuilding the road in Blue Earth and adding three roundabouts.

One of the most recent changes, said Wes Brown, city engineer for Blue Earth, involves the first phase.

"They'll start in the middle with the Seventh Street roundabout," he said.

Since Seventh Street is a main thoroughfare, it will be the first to be completed and re-opened.

"Primarily for ag access," Brown said. "We'll get the intersection opened back up for the grain elevator and Seneca. Seneca's harvest is earlier than the ag harvest."

That suits Lisa Esser just fine.

"I run the Kwik Trip, so I'm concerned with getting in and out with customers," she said. "They changed us to stage one with Seneca, shorter period of time with construction."

Her husband, Dirk, wanted to know what kind of access customers will have to his business, Esser Distributing, and "what it'll be like after it's done."

His concerns were shared by others.

"I wanted to see what the signage was going to be," said Sarah Cox, who manages Subway. "Direct interstate traffic to know where we are. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. I can only be optimistic."

Mark and Lori Maher also were interested in signage. They own Blue Earth Monument and access to the store will be on a Seneca driveway and around to Ninth Street.

"They've been very accommodating," said Lori Maher. "They added some signs for us."

"Overall, it'll be a good thing," said Mark Maher, "but getting past construction is always a challenge."



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