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Minnesota 60 project slated to be done Nov. 18

Construction crews level cement on the new cul-de-sac created east of King’s Wok Friday morning as part of the Minnesota 60 four-lane expansion project through Worthington. The plan is to open the highway for use on or around Nov. 18. (JULIE BUNTJER/DAILY GLOBE)

WORTHINGTON — After years of road construction and multiple detours, the newly expanded four-lane Minnesota 60 highway through Worthington is nearing completion. Today was initially set as the contract end date, but a wet spring had crews playing catch-up all summer and into the fall.

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Minnesota Department of Transportation officials announced Friday that the new highway will open to travel on or around Nov. 18, depending on weather during the next two weeks.

Crews are wrapping up numerous projects within the city limits, from moving dirt to installing curb and gutter and paving a cul-de-sac. The biggest issue this week was getting enough cement trucks in to do concrete work, as reconstruction on the entrance and exit for the Interstate 90 weigh station also took place this week and required concrete deliveries.

“It’s just a matter of time at this point,” said Bob Williams, MnDOT project engineer, during a Friday morning update at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. “It could be drier, it could be warmer, but it’s good enough.”

“It will all look nice when it’s done,” added Scott Mathiowetz, a supervisor with R&G Construction.

On Friday, one crew was paving the cul-de-sac located just east of King’s Wok, while another crew was getting ready for concrete curb and gutter installation along the round-about west of the New Vision grain elevator. Other workers were removing excess dirt along the new highway.

Williams said sod along the new highway, as well as sod and plantings in the middle round-about will be added late next week and into the following week. Once completed, the area in the middle of the round-about will look similar to the round-abouts on the south side of I-90 and near Worthington Power and Equipment. Other work to be completed is lane striping and signage for the highway, as well as the bituminous surfacing of the adjacent bike and walking trail.

“Fine grading and sodding can be done under traffic,” Williams said, adding that while it’s hoped some permanent striping will be placed before the highway opens, temporary painting will most likely need to be done to get through this winter. Final surface finishing on the walls at the railroad tracks will need to be completed next spring, as temperatures are required to be at least 50 degrees and rising.

“We just have to look at the weather and make a judgment call,” Williams said of some of the remaining work. “If the weather is there, we’re going to take advantage of it.”

Bases for new street lighting in the median are in place in the area near Armour Road, and the city will erect those in the near future. Meanwhile, the four-way stop lights at the Minnesota 60 and Armour Road intersection are operational.

Williams said once the work on Minnesota 60 is completed, construction crews will shift their focus to Armour Road. The section of the road between Minnesota 60 and the railroad tracks, as well as another section along the Bedford Technology building, will be reconstructed. The concrete between the tracks has sufficient thickness and doesn’t need to be replaced.

“There will be a sidewalk going across there, too,” he said. “There will be good pedestrian access across there, taking advantage of the new sidewalks and trail system with this project.”

As that project is under construction, JBS employees will continue to use the detour on Nobles County 33 from the south.

Aside from the weather and a few problems with individuals driving around the barricades and damaging fresh concrete, Williams said the project, overall, has gone as planned.

“We can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and MnDOT are planning a ribbon cutting ceremony in conjunction with the opening. Details on the date and time of that event will be released closer to the project’s completion.

With the completion of the Minnesota 60 expansion project in Worthington, work will shift to the gaps in the four-lane highway farther north.

This summer, crews did ground work on the segment between Butterfield and St. James, referred to as the east gap of the project. Williams said the ground there had extensive mucky areas, so a geofoam product was installed.

“They got the earth work done this year, which is no small feat — especially with the bridge fills near Butterfield,” he said. “Paving work will happen next year, and it’s supposed to be done by the end of next year.”

Mathiowetz Construction is working on that portion of the project.

Work on the middle gap, between Butterfield and Mountain Lake, will begin in 2015; with the west gap, from Mountain Lake to Windom, to begin in 2017, depending on funding.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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