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Four-lane Minnesota 60 completion, ribbon cutting slated for fall 2018

The four-lane Minnesota 60 highway is seen Tuesday afternoon at the Minnesota-Iowa border. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation waxed a little nostalgic during a meeting of the Highway 60 Action Corp. Monday noon in Worthington. After all, it’s been 53 years since the Minnesota 60 movement began — an initiative to expand a two-lane road into a four-lane highway that would serve as a corridor of commerce from southwest Minnesota to the Twin Cities.

“We started this effort before man went to the moon,” said Peter Harff, MnDOT assistant district engineer. “We’ve just about accomplished the goal here.”

Shared with a group was a black-and-white image of the Highway 60 Action Corp. from the 1970s, and a large black and white bumper sticker that read, “Pray For Me, I Drive Highway 60.”

The four-lane expansion project is now in its final phase, with the last segment — from Windom to Mountain Lake — to be completed next October.

The four-lane expansion from the Minnesota-Iowa line near Bigelow to St. James cost between $177 million and $190 million to build, according to Harff, with Mathiowetz Construction of Sleepy Eye awarded the majority (nine) of the contracts. The first phase of construction, which began in 1993, was from Worthington to Windom.

The last phase is the eight-mile stretch between Windom and Mountain Lake. On Monday, MnDOT Project Engineer Bob Williams said the work is about 55 percent complete.

“The current project is on schedule, if not a little ahead,” Williams reported to the group. Two-thirds of the concrete is in place, earthwork is 80 percent complete and pipework is about 90 percent complete. A third of the final seeding is also done.

“We’re in very good shape,” he added.

Mathiowetz Construction will complete the grading work in the spring, followed by edge paving and bituminous paving. Williams anticipates traffic will be diverted onto the new pavement by late July, with two-way travel on the new segment continuing into the fall as the existing two-lane gets a bituminous overlay.

Williams said he expects the entire four-lane to be open and in use by mid-October.

“Right now they’re estimated dates — it may be earlier; it may be a wet year,” he added.

Once the project is completed, the Highway 60 Action Corp. plans a ribbon cutting to celebrate the culmination of the multi-decade project.

While it’s ready to celebrate, MnDOT announced Monday its plans for road improvements over the next several years. Among them are a resurfacing of the highway in Windom in 2019, resurfacing of the highway from St. James east to the Minnesota 15 interchange in 2018-2019, development of J-turns as a safety measure on the highway at Heron Lake in 2019, and the addition of flashing LED safety signs for the roundabouts in Worthington.

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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