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Minnesota Department of Transportation Highway 60 project engineer Peter Harff (center) discusses the plans for the four-lane expansion project along the Minnesota 60 beltline south of Worthington. MnDOT hosted an open house on Tuesday in Worthington.

New Minnesota 60 detour routes determined

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WORTHINGTON -- The planned four-lane expansion of Minnesota 60 from Bigelow to Worthington is still on target to start in July 2010, and detour routes have now been announced for the next phase of construction.

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Peter Harff, MnDOT's Minnesota 60 project engineer, said Nobles County State Aid Highways 4 and 5 will be the posted detour for Minnesota 60 when construction starts next summer on the stretch from the Bigelow bypass to Paul Avenue. The blacktop road will remain the detour route through the end of the 2011 construction season. The road may be used as a temporary detour in 2012, when construction of the four-lane highway continues from Paul Avenue to the railroad underpass on the east edge of town.

The detour information was available during a MnDOT-sponsored Minnesota 60 open house Tuesday afternoon in the Farmers Room at the Nobles County Government Center in Worthington.

MnDOT officials continue to work on property and rights-of-way acquisitions for the project. In the first phase, four of the five relocation contracts have been signed, with the fifth nearing completion, according to Harff. The phase has the least number of relocations of the stages yet to be completed.

"We're doing very well (on acquisitions)," Harff said, adding that the challenge has been in getting rights-of-way easements (access to strips of land) in the first phase.

Tim Hoehn, who has been working on the rights-of-way issues, said MnDOT is working to secure pieces of land from about 30 different property owners along the first phase of the expansion route. While the process is taking longer than MnDOT had hoped, Harff said it still plans to let bids on the first phase in March, with construction to start in July.

The bid letting on the second phase of the project is slated for December 2010, with construction to start in April 2011. That project will go from Paul Avenue to the railroad underpass and includes the relocation of 11 homes and rights-of-way access to another 20-22 properties.

"Eight of those 11 (homeowners) have reached agreements, and four or five have relocated to new homes," said Hoehn.

The more challenging aspect to the second phase is providing access to a stretch of businesses along the highway, including Worthington Ag Parts, Dyke's Auto Salvage and Schaap Sanitation.

"We're trying to get so everyone has the same level of service that they had," said Hoehn.

The least amount of work has been completed on the third phase of the project, which includes going under the railroad bridge, incorporating round-abouts and taking traffic up to Interstate 90 on Worthington's northeast side. Bids for that phase will be let in December 2011, with construction in 2012 and 2013.

"We're working hard within the office to see if we can shave a little time off that," said Harff.

"To me, it's exciting," he said of the progress made in the last couple of years. "It's more concrete now. We know what we're going to build."

The biggest relocation effort will be in the third phase of the project, when 31-32 mobile homes, one business and four single-family homes will need to be moved.

Hoehn said appraisers were out on Monday in the area to begin the process of relocating those affected individuals.

Once the Bigelow to Worthington expansion project is complete, Harff said MnDOT will move on to complete the four-lane expansion in the gaps that remain on the highway between Windom and St. James.

Meanwhile, safety improvements and concrete repair are taking place on a stretch of the highway this summer.

Marc Flygare, MnDOT traffic engineer, said a left-turn lane is being added this summer near the Poet ethanol plant at Bingham Lake, lighting is being added at some of the intersections along the highway, and radar speed signs have been erected and will remain in place until the entire four-lane expansion project is complete.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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