Highway 52 project behind schedule due to rainy spring

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Construction on Highway 52 in Chatfield is ongoing, as seen from the Riley Funeral Home parking lot. Residents have new sidewalks on the west side of the road, but work is still underway on the east side.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The falling sky is the culprit.

“It’s behind schedule. Rain has hampered efforts at times – it’s not way off, but it’s behind the schedule the contractor had. We’ll have a sharper focus on where things stand in early August as they review how much work remains,” stated Mike Dougherty Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) District 6 director of Public Engagement and Communications. He acknowledged that the Highway 52 reconstruction project from Chatfield to Marion is not on the original course set for it to be completed at the end of July.

He reiterated, “It’s mainly rain that’s gotten the project behind schedule. It has affected projects throughout the region. None have been set back significantly, but it’s slowed work at times.”

He outlined progress in Chatfield, sharing, “Some of the culvert work was done, as was some paving north of Chatfield. They’re getting sidewalk replaced, but there’s plenty more to do in Chatfield where the sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) work is taking place. Work on the west downtown sidewalks is almost done, and they are doing the east side sidewalk work in shorter pieces to ensure better continuity for everyone who lives along the work areas.”

Dougherty addressed Chatfield residents’ and business owners’ concerns about access to downtown businesses and about celebrating Western Days on Main Street as usual, as Main Street and Highway 52 are one and the same.

“People should have access to buildings,” he said. “The contractor needs to maintain access and has been working with individuals along these areas. And MnDOT has asked the contractor to get the area in shape for Western Days, cleaning up the area and removing barrels and barricades, as well as patching in areas where new curb and gutter are to make sure they are accessible. This will be done in time for Western Days, but they will still have work to do downtown once Western Days is over, so they will return and resume the curb and gutter work, as well as paving in the weeks after. The new stoplights – often, it’s toward the end of the project, as paving and then striping occurs.”

On the Marion end of the project, there have also been delays caused by deluges. “They’re moving along, but some heavy rains slowed some work on one of the big culverts. They’re moving ahead, but the detour remains. The detour is a good one on Olmsted County Road 7 to Interstate 90. It doesn’t add a significant amount of time to the trip. If others have other routes that work, they’ll likely continue. In the end, the road will be smoother and have fresh striping. The culvert work will provide updated drainage along there, which is important. The recent heavy rains have shown the importance of drainage and solid culverts to ensure the water is able to flow through and away from the highways.”

The absolute end date before the entire project is over schedule has yet to be determined, but Dougherty pointed out that the inconveniences created by construction will be balanced by better traffic management and safer travels.

“The absolute end date over schedule would be later in September, but we’ll know as we get closer into August how the contractor is doing,” he said. “This project will improve the road for everyone who uses it daily. Construction is disruptive, but the improvements it brings are worth it.”

Dougherty concluded, “We post updates via our email list, so it’s good to sign up for those at the project website, https://www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/hwy52-marion-chatfield/index.htm...