A year of building

This summer will bring street, highway, and school building projects to the area

Saratoga Street in Marshall will be the focus of a major street and utility project in 2018, Marshall city staff said. The street will be reconstructed, and utility lines replaced, from the bridge north of College Drive down to Southview Drive.

While construction season is still a few months away, it already looks like 2018 will be a busy year for public construction projects. A number of highway and bridge projects will start in the Marshall area, while the city of Marshall is planning a major reconstruction project on Saratoga Street. And after successful building referendums last summer, both the Minneota and Murray County Central school districts will be starting expansion projects.

What follows is a roundup of major construction planned in the area this year.

Marshall plans construction on Saratoga Street, and in industrial park

The city of Marshall has a number of road and trail projects planned for 2018, but the work that will likely have the biggest impact is street and utility reconstruction on Saratoga Street.

“That is the big one this year,” said Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson. Saratoga Street is a busy road in Marshall, but it’s in poor condition, Olson said. The planned construction will replace the street and utilities underneath it, from the bridge north of the intersection of Saratoga and College Drive all the way to Southview Drive, he said.

Olson said Saratoga Street will be rebuilt with two traffic lanes and a central left turn lane. On-street parking will be included only near residential areas along the street. Saratoga Street will also be made slightly narrower where possible — the street is currently wider than city recommendations, Olson said.

“Right now, we’re proposing an off-street bike path,” along the north side of Saratoga Street, Olson said. The off-street path would help improve safety, given the number of young cyclists who travel along Saratoga Street to get to school.

Construction on Saratoga Street is a major undertaking, not just because of the work, but because of the number of people who will be affected by it, Olson said.

“The reason why this is such a big deal, is we have Schwan’s, the YMCA, the middle school, the fire department,” as well as residential properties, with access to Saratoga Street, he said. Olson said the city plans to hold a public information meeting on the Saratoga Street, which has been tentatively scheduled for Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Both public and individual notices about the project will be issued, and Olson said city staff intend to meet with property owners as well.

City construction work will be underway roughly from May to September, but the Saratoga Street project could take longer, Olson said.

Olson said another major Marshall street project this year will be street reconstruction and water main replacements on Michigan Road and Superior Road. That project will mainly affect traffic in the industrial park.

Other Marshall city projects planned for this year include street reconstruction on South Bend Avenue and Marguerite Avenue. Both streets are relatively short, but they’re in a residential area, so some Marshall residents will be affected by reconstruction, Olson said.

The city will also be completing a 2017 project, with ground and infrastructure work in an expansion of the Marshall industrial park. Olson said what remains will be to complete grading and street work for the project, and to build a connection to Minnesota Highway 68.

More J-turns among state highway projects

The summer of 2018 will also bring more construction on Minnesota Highway 23 in Marshall, spokespeople for the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. A reduced-conflict intersection is planned to be built at the intersection of Highway 23 and Lyon Street, as well as a restricted left turn lane at the intersection of Highway 23 and Clarice Avenue, said MnDOT public affairs representative Mandi Lighthizer-Schmidt.

MnDOT had originally planned to build two J-turns in Marshall this year. However, a planned J-turn at the intersection of Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 7 might be constructed in the summer of 2019 instead, Lighthizer-Schmidt said.

“We’re taking a look to see if it’s going to be 2018 or 2019,” she said.

Reduced conflict intersections, or “J-turns,” are designed to cut down on the number of T-bone collisions at intersections. Rather than being able to directly cross or make a left turn at the intersection, motorists use a system of turn lanes and special U-turn lanes to get across the highway. One reduced conflict intersection has already been built at the intersection of Highway 23 and Saratoga Street in Marshall.

Traffic on Highway 23 won’t be detoured during construction of the Lyon Street J-turn, said MnDOT engineer Mark Klema. However, he said there will be detour signs for travelers on Lyon Street, and traffic on Highway 23 will be reduced to one lane during construction.

Several other state bridge and highway projects are planned in the region this year, Lighthizer-Schmidt said. In Marshall, MnDOT will be doing repairs on a bridge on Highway 19, north of U.S. Highway 59 and Minnesota Highway 68; and doing resurfacing work on a second bridge, over the Redwood River diversion channel near Highway 68.

The city of Redwood Falls will also see a lot of state construction work this year, Lighthizer-Schmidt said. A number of improvements will be made along Minnesota Highways 19 and 71, which will affect Redwood Falls’ business district. A left turn lane will be built on Highway 19, running from South Minnesota Street to Patten Street. Another left turn lane will be built on Highway 71, running from East Tin Street to Second Street. The project will also add accessibility improvements, and replace a traffic signal at Dekalb Street.

In the region, MnDOT will be working on a bridge on Minnesota Highway 67, two miles east of U.S. Highway 75. That project will start around July, Lighthizer-Schmidt said. MnDOT will also be resurfacing U.S. Highway 212 from the South Dakota border to Highway 75.

Area counties plan for construction season

County road construction and maintenance is also part of the plan for area counties in 2018. In Lyon County, that will mean some bridge replacement and grading projects, said Lyon County Engineer Aaron VanMoer.

One planned project will be to replace a small timber bridge just south of the intersection of Lyon County Road 7 and Minnesota Highway 23 in Marshall. VanMoer said the county hopes to complete the project before MnDOT begins work on the planned J-turn at that intersection.

Other Lyon County projects will affect Lyon County Road 3 this summer, VanMoer said. The county will be grading about 4.5 miles of County Road 3 between Minneota and the Yellow Medicine County line, and replacing a bridge over the Yellow Medicine River on County Road 3.

Work to replace three bridges in Camden State Park will continue this year, too. VanMoer said two of the bridges are planned to be finished before Memorial Day.

Lincoln County Engineer Joe Wilson said some county bridge replacements and several paving projects are planned in Lincoln County this year. He said Lincoln County roads being resurfaced include County Road 1 between County Road 9 and U.S. Highway 14; County Road 17 between Minnesota Highway 271 and U.S. Highway 75, and between Highway 75 and County Road 7; and County Road 18 between County Road 5 and County Road 7.

School buildings are growing for Minneota, MCC

Road projects aren’t the only major construction work that will be done in the area this year. Two area school districts are also preparing to update and expand their facilities. Both Minneota Public Schools and Murray County Central Schools passed building referendums in 2017.

This summer, some major renovations will start at Minneota Public School, Superintendent Dan Deitte said. Among the many improvements the project will bring include the removal of asbestos floor tiles, the expansion of three elementary school classrooms, a new air handler system at the elementary school, updated bathrooms, and new doors, windows and lighting.

“We are going to do some work outside, too,” Deitte said. The outdoor work will include some new outdoor lighting and sidewalks.

The project will be funded by a $5.2 million building bond passed in an August referendum.

Deitte said one part of the referendum — renovated locker rooms — will likely not be completed this year. After opening bids for the project, school officials learned that the original scope of the project might be difficult for contractors to complete in one summer.

“We’re going to be smart about it,” and first focus on the parts of the project that will affect students every day, Deitte said.

Deitte said construction will start in late May.

Murray County Central’s building referendum, of about $4.75 million, will allow the district to build a new practice gymnasium and a new wrestling room at MCC High School in Slayton. The school currently has only one competition gym, which makes scheduling winter sports and physical education classes challenging, said MCC Superintendent Joe Meyer.

“We currently have some physical education and health classes being held in our hallways,” Meyer said. The practice gym should help relieve some of the pressure.

Meyer said the new practice gym will have two courts, as well as a walking track. Besides hosting winter sports practices and events, the gym could possibly be used for more community events, he said. Construction is planned to start in mid- to late April, with a December completion date.

“There was definitely a need, and our community supported (the referendum),” Meyer said. The building referendum passed with more than 57 percent of voters casting “yes” ballots, he said.