The next destination in summer construction
by David Hill
A small group gathered at the City Hall in Thief River Falls Tuesday to discuss construction that will affect nearly everyone in the community this summer.
Highways 1 and 59 in Thief River Falls will be under construction and some of it at the same time. The highways are main thoroughfares through the community and the projects will cause considerable disruptions.
No one at the meeting Tuesday disputed whether the projects are needed. The concerns were with detours and potential bottlenecks.
Highway 1 from the bridge over the Thief River to Main Avenue will see the most construction. Crews will be removing all of the infrastructure – all utilities, including sewer and water. The utilities go down the center of Highway 1 and the ditch will be at least 16 feet deep. The south sidewalk has been removed and will not be replaced. The sidewalk on the north side of the east-west highway will be replaced with one that’s 10-feet wide.
From the east side of the bridge, the detour for Highway 1 takes motorists north along paved County State Aid Highway 18 to 230th Street, then west to Highway 32, which takes motorists south to the city. It’s roughly six miles north to 230th Street, so the total trip would be about 18 miles.
Most people at the meeting who live east of the Eighth Street bridge know of a short cut and plan to take advantage of it. They plan to turn north and continue north on CSAH 18 (past the baseball fields) for one mile then turn west on County Road 63, cross Long’s Bridge and then either return to Highway 1 or Eighth Street on Dewey Avenue or Reserve Avenue. This route is limited to vehicles weighing less than 5 tons and is narrow. (Law enforcement officials are expected to patrol the route.)
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Spruce Valley Construction, which is performing the construction on Highway 1 and 59, promised to keep one or both Dewey or Reserve open during the construction. This is important as it provides a shorter detour for residents who live east of the Eighth Street bridge, allows residents access to their homes, and allows emergency personnel access to homes and businesses in the area affected most by the construction. Spruce Valley representatives also said they have visited with fire, ambulance and law enforcement regarding the project and said they will maintain emergency access for them.