by CESAR SALAZAR
As the end of the year is approaching alarmingly fast, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) District 6 Public Engagement & Communications Director Mike Dougherty provides some updates on what the future possibly holds for the Mankato Avenue roundabouts project, including a possible timeline of when they could be open.
The roundabouts, which state officials intend to help reduce traffic congestion and severe traffic accidents, have been an ongoing MnDOT project starting back in April of this year. The intersection of highways 43 and 61 has been one of the more accident-prone intersections in Southeast Minnesota, according to MnDOT. The first roundabout on highways 61 and 43 was completed and opened earlier in August, with a few minor fender benders reported by the Minnesota State Patrol and Winona Police Department.
The remaining roundabouts are planned to be completed in late fall. The construction is still looking to be on schedule, depending on the weather, according to Dougherty. “They're looking, at least on [the] schedule right now, at wrapping everything up towards the end of November,” he said.
At this point, Dougherty said that, outside of bad weather — such as a massive snowstorm — the project shouldn’t face any delays. “I think they're at a place where they can get things done, and they will have to, regardless of whatever,” he said. “They've got to get it open in time for winter driving, they can't leave it as such. They should have it done and from the way it looks, it seems like they've got a reasonable schedule for what they need to get done.”
Currently, construction crews are continuing to work on the water main and sewage lines between Riverbend Road and Bruski Drive, as well as general grading and excavating. Soon after, the construction crews will begin to work on the pavement for the road, according to Dougherty. Another possibility, Dougherty said, is the possible closure of some streets on the east side to do some final paving, but there are no solid plans at this point. “Once we know for sure, we'll let people know that it might be like a one-day inconvenience of some sort where they get the paving crews in so they can get all that done and then get traffic back on as soon as possible,” he said.
Overall, Dougherty said, that as the end of November approaches, a more detailed schedule of when the new roundabouts will open will be announced. “I think it's moving along, and I think people seem to be adapting to the highway 61 and 43 roundabout,” Dougherty said.