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Highway 59 opening delayed by a week

Paving work continues on U.S. 59 north of Worthington Tuesday afternoon. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — The opening of U.S. 59 has been delayed a week.

“The best date we have right now is Oct. 11 for opening,” Worthington Director of Engineering Dwayne Haffield said. “Things do need to go well for that to be the right date. That’s the target. The original date would have been this Friday, but we know they aren’t going to make that.”

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Haffield said there weren’t a lot of specifics given as to why the project was delayed, but added that weather was not a factor.

“The statement is the culvert removal did not go as well as they thought; some of the deep sewer work didn’t go as well as they thought,” he said. “Other than that, there was no specific identified delay.”

The project actually encompasses a variety of improvements.

“The basic project starts with creating turn lanes at Bioscience Drive,” Haffield said. “That leads to other things happening, including removing the old culvert and putting a new one in at a different location.

“Last year, the ditch got set up and moved and widened. Now they’ll have this new culvert in,” he continued. “We’re also putting sewer and water across the road and new water on the side. There is a bunch of things happening, but it starts from the basic idea of getting the intersection set up, getting utilities across the road and we are implementing the beginning of a flood control project, too.”

There will be full turning lanes for both northbound and southbound traffic.

“Bioscience Drive will be extended to the west as we make it available for more development,” Haffield said. “Before MnDOT would allow another street to be set up, especially one that’s going to serve quite a bit of area, they want those turn lanes in so those streets have the least impact on the through traffic.”

Bioscience Drive currently exists behind the Event Center, but has no access to the highway.

“It also allows us to open up the one to the east,” Haffield said. “It was always cut off and blocked, so you could not get to the highway from it. This will allow that to be opened up and be extended to the west side of 59.”

On the west side, the city owns land and hopes to use that for industrial growth.

“Pulling the culvert and relocating it, that’s a fair project in itself,” Haffield said. “Then the sewer is coming through — that was deep because that has to go all the way out west someday to the west edge of the planned growth area, which is all the way over to Diagonal Road.

“Eventually, the sewer is going to get that far. The road improvements are turn lanes. When it’s done, that’s going to be the most visible thing that’s changed, other than if you’re really paying attention to the ditch.”

The total cost of the project is just more than $3.56 million. The city’s share is $1.45 million, with other money coming from the state.

As the calendar turns to October, Haffield said construction season is almost over for the city of Worthington.

“We should be wrapping up,” he said. “Of course, everybody is waiting for those two highways to get open. We will beat 60 with 59. That’s the upside.”