Construction work resumes Tuesday on Laurel Street in Brainerd, altering regular traffic patterns at least through early summer.
Work on the downtown city street covers only a handful of city blocks, but hits a high-traffic zone. Laurel Street runs along the Crow Wing County government complex, the Brainerd Post Office, Brainerd City Hall and a number of businesses. The street will be closed to through traffic from South Second Street to South Sixth Street.
The intersection at Laurel and South Fifth streets, by city hall and the post office, will remain open to north/south traffic with exceptions for road removal and sanitary sewer reconstruction. Motorists who used a temporary detour route last year created in the county's employee parking lot north of the Elks Building will not have that option this spring. In 2004, crews removed the street and replaced sanitary sewer from East River Road to South Third Street.
The city of Brainerd is urging motorists to plan alternative routes while Laurel Street is closed to through traffic beginning Tuesday.
Suggestions include avoiding the Laurel Street bridge route by using Washington Street or College Drive.
The county's campus building project, specifically the new jail, is going up along the block where Front Street once extended behind the Elks Building. The county put up concrete barricades Wednesday to prevent through traffic in the employee parking lot, which was available as a detour when the first phase of Laurel Street work began. Employees will continue to have access to the lot from the east and west.
Peter Herlofsky Jr., county administrator, said the decision not to allow a detour this year came from safety concerns for staff walking in the area and from space restrictions with the county jail construction beginning soon.
People may still access South Fourth Street to reach the public parking lot across from the courthouse and use Laurel Street from the west to get to the parking lot in front of the Law Enforcement Center. Another parking lot near the courthouse is accessible from South Fifth Street behind the post office. A designated pedestrian access will be maintained across Laurel Street in front of the courthouse.
"The big thing we're trying to encourage is for motorists to start planning alternative routes, to encourage them to avoid using the Laurel Street bridge as an east-west route," said Brainerd City Engineer Jeff Hulsether.
Street removal will begin at Third Street and go to South Sixth Street. Sanitary sewer replacement will follow the street removal.
The Central Services Building on Laurel Street is anticipated to open May 15 with the county's purchasing office, information systems department and the office of Mike Kearns, facilities and parks director. Brick work started Wednesday on the county Judicial Center and Community Services Building. The Community Services Building should open in early December. The Judicial Center is expected to open in April 2006.
Complex West, which houses the county health department and other offices, is set for demolition in December. Demolition on the Elks Building to make way for the new jail should start by the first of June. The new jail is expected to be completed in January 2007.
Renovations to the current service building -- which houses Social Services, the county attorney's offices and several courtrooms -- will begin after April 2006.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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