Around 40 Lanesboro and rural Lanesboro residents met at the community center to learn more about the Highway 16 project segments from Lanesboro to Rushford and Lanesboro to Highway 52. Minnesota Department of Transportation District 6 Project Manager Jeff Bunch, Rochester Area Manager for Rochester Sand and Gravel Brian Schumacher, and Dunn Blacktop Company Area Manager Tim Heins were on hand to answer general and specific questions pertaining to the projects. <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Around 40 Lanesboro and rural Lanesboro residents met at the community center to learn more about the Highway 16 project segments from Lanesboro to Rushford and Lanesboro to Highway 52. Minnesota Department of Transportation District 6 Project Manager Jeff Bunch, Rochester Area Manager for Rochester Sand and Gravel Brian Schumacher, and Dunn Blacktop Company Area Manager Tim Heins were on hand to answer general and specific questions pertaining to the projects.

PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER

Citizens, business owners and rural residents of Lanesboro filled up most of the folding chairs in the city's community center to learn more about the Highway 16 projects to Rushford and Highway 52. The open house meeting on May 21, which was held by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT), was the second of three meetings held in Fillmore County to address the construction, road closures and detours that will be taking place over the summer.

Around 40 residents listened and asked questions to DOT District 6 Project Manager Jeff Bunch, Rochester Area Manager for Rochester Sand and Gravel Brian Schumacher and Dunn Blacktop Company Area Manager Tim Heins.

Schumacher started the meeting by saying the work to be done on Highway 16 would be basic. Five culverts will be replaced between Highway 52 and Holly Road. The first two weeks will be taken up by the actual replacement process, which will begin June 10.

Schumacher said the road milling would begin around July 1. The top inch and a half of blacktop will be removed and laid back down to a three inch depth. Schumacher said additional bituminous curb, sidewalk and storm sewer work would be completed with the entire project finished by Aug. 1, barring inclement weather.

A question was asked about road access for people who live between Highway 52 and Inspiration Point. Bunch explained not all culverts will be done at once and there will be access for local traffic.

"It may be a bit rugged, but there will be access," he explained, adding the DOT has to maintain access for police, ambulance and fire response.

Work on the road by Inspiration Point will entail the replacement of guardrail, but no widening of the road will occur. Around 14,500 feet of guardrail will be replaced along the stretch of both projects.

A person asked if a detour sign could be posted in Fountain for people who could take County Road 8 into Lanesboro. Bunch said it was a good idea and he would work on it.

Upon a question asked about the detour for the Lanesboro to Rushford project, Bunch explained the flooding that had taken place on Highway 250. Due to the North Branch of the Root River overrunning its banks, the gravel shoulders of a stretch of highway were washed away. Bunch said the DOT would arrive on Wednesday to patch it up and have it open by Thursday morning. Work on the Highway 16 project to Rushford was suspended for the time Highway 250 was closed.

Bunch also said local people would be able to continue using Highway 16 during construction. The segment of Highway 16 going to Rushford will undergo reclamation, which Bunch said is a relatively new way of improving roads. Bunch said this process has been estimated to put 25 more years onto the life of the road. However, the process takes time.

It will take nine days to mill the 18 miles of road. Approach panels will be replaced for four bridges, which will take two weeks to make sure they don't heave after the winter. The reclamation portion of the project will entail the grinding up of the blacktop a couple times. This process grinds up an inch of the aggregate beneath the blacktop the first time and injects asphalt oil into the mixture the second time. This will stabilize the rock that will then be paved by Aug. 1.

The reclamation project will be the fourth one done in the state and will be followed to see how long it lasts. The project will be on hold for around a month.

Another question was asked about driveway and canoe launch maintenance along Highway 16 to Rushford. Bunch said the DOT is required to maintain all access points. He added that work will be done in the town of Lanesboro, including pavement and the installation of new pedestrian ramps.

"We're not adding anything else like a sidewalk, just replacing and improving," he shared. A culvert will be replaced on Old Whalan Road.

Other questions revolved around business and tourism impacts of the highway projects. One resident asked if the DOT could put up signage that would help people understand that Lanesboro is still open. The detour signs, they reasoned, would be more likely to scare people away.

Bunch said he understood that concern and that the DOT does what they can to work with businesses. He reminded everyone that the Highway 52 to Lanesboro detour will only be in place for three weeks and hopefully have ended before the Fourth of July holiday.

In regards to the Lanesboro to Rushford project, he said they will have the detour in play even throughout the three weeks it won't be worked on. He said it wouldn't be worth it to pull out the signs, just to put them back in. He did mention that people can still take back roads for a shortcut and that the marked detours are posted for trucks.

Another question asked was if a resident could put their own signs out to encourage people to continue toward Lanesboro. Bunch said there were rules on that and the DOT would take down any signs placed in the highway right-of-way.

Road work will go on six days a week from sunup to sundown. Bunch warned those people who would still be using the roads as local traffic to watch for flag crews.

He also stated businesses along the road can tell customers to ignore the detour. For the time being, "It's best to keep all people off of the road as it keeps it safe for the contractors," he explained.