BAXTER -- Extended daylight and warmer days signal the arrival of Minnesota's other season -- construction -- and this year that means the major Highway 210 reconstruction project in Brainerd and Baxter.
Tuesday night, area residents and business owners had one more chance to look at the project, which will affect traffic in the corridor from the Washington Street bridge in west Brainerd to the Highway 371 intersection in Baxter.
About 30,000 vehicles per day are anticipated along the Highway 210 corridor during the summer. In the cities of Brainerd and Baxter the highway is known as Washington Street.
Rerouted detour traffic off Washington Street will affect residents along James and Charles streets during part of the reconstruction project, but the loop of about 26 houses on Tyrol Drive may have one of the biggest challenges.
A few of those residents attended the open house at MnDOT headquarters in Baxter Tuesday and expressed concerns about being able to get in and out of their homes during a busy summer traffic season.
Reconstruction of the Fourth Street/Washington Street intersection will create a detour after the July Fourth weekend. Work will take about four to six weeks to complete.
Vehicles will merge into one single lane for each direction once they move onto the Washington Street bridge. Already westbound drivers take the first curving right after the bridge onto Second Street to avoid the busy Fourth Street signal light intersection.
Those drivers can now go straight to Jackson Street to connect with points west or south or go left onto James Street. But those days are numbered.
By the end of May, Second Street will end in a cul-de-sac with construction of a stormwater treatment pond to collect water before it goes into the Mississippi River.
And MnDOT is considering Tyrol Drive residents' concerns regarding access to their homes along with the concerns from nearby businesses with loading docks and semi-truck traffic on James Street, specifically behind Ace Hardware and the Medical Supply business.
Third Street instead between the strip mall and Walgreens has been suggested as an alternative detour route. MnDOT officials have yet to make a final decision.
Kevin Kosobud, MnDOT resident engineer, said traffic flows on the corner of Second and James streets will be monitored during the project.
MnDOT has a full-time traffic control supervisor to monitor traffic flow along the entire project route.
If Second Street is used for the detour it is likely the four-way stop erected at the intersection of James and Second streets will be turned into a two-way stop, giving rerouted Highway 210 traffic the ability to flow through the intersection.
About 15 people attended the MnDOT public hearing.
Residents attending the session were optimistic, noting the project is short term and has been talked about well in advance to give people time to plan alternate routes. Access to businesses along the route will be available behind the buildings.
Public meetings to update businesses in the construction zone as well as any other interested parties will be 7:30 a.m. Wednesdays at the Dairy Queen in the Westgate Mall.
Stage one begins May 12. The Dispatch will have a more detailed look at the project Sunday.
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