Road construction project continues, but end is in sight

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Construction on Chatfield's Main Street, which is also Highway 52, is in progress, though much later than the late July deadline expected at the project's outset.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Construction equipment makes its way down Main Street last week as the Highway 52 repaving continues.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Hot pavement; home stretch.

“It’s coming down to the home stretch, and the results will be good. We appreciate their patience during construction – construction is disruptive, but the end result is a good thing,” stated Mike Dougherty, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Director of Public Engagement and Communications.

Dougherty is pleased to announce to Chatfield residents that with the laying of new asphalt on Highway 52 and its concurrent Main Street in downtown Chatfield, the long summer of road construction will indeed be coming to an end.

He outlined, “The official end date is mid-September, but it will be a few weeks beyond. Sidewalks are nearly complete, paving is ongoing in town, sodding and re-sodding areas that were not cared for sufficiently earlier in the project…ongoing sidewalk work and installing the signal and signs are left to do, so the end of September. Some sod work will likely occur in October.”

He added that the streetlights will be installed in the next few weeks.

The traffic signal will be installed and left in blinking red mode. This is the same as a four-way stop and will continue in that mode until the project is near completion, and then it will be set up for regular traffic.

Dougherty added, “The project will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant – everything is up to current standards, including the signal, so the ramps will be at a smooth grade, and the signal is helpful to those who may have limited eyesight. There have been some weather delays and other delays, but it’s shaping up to get done soon.”

The wet spring and summer, with deluges that caused erosion on finished roadways surrounding the downtown and Highway 52 project reaching north to Marion, delayed the work by weeks.

“Heavy rains slow down the work, either canceling a day or delaying the work to deal with water,” Dougherty said. “Much is weather dependent. If the weather is good, they could wrap up next week, but if the weather remains rainy, it will extend that timeline.”

The project has stuck to budget, even with weather delays. “The contractor works with their bid price to come in at that price. Bringing in extra hands and equipment is up to the contractor. They may choose to do that, depending on their needs and other projects they have in the region,” Dougherty said. “It’s always exciting seeing a project coming to a close. And we recognize that the weather is something we can’t control, so we like it when they’re doing as much as they can when the weather is favorable.”

Ultimately, Dougherty feels that residents and commuters passing through on Highway 52 will find that the route has a “smoother, safer surface.”

“There are some changes made to access points up near Marion for safety, and the smoother ride is probably the most noticeable. The new signals and sidewalks will also be nice. It will also be nice to not have construction equipment around town and not have any traffic delays,” he concluded.