But business owners clearly favored the second option because it provides an access for customers driving from the north on Highway 22, including those who arrived from the nearby Highway 14 interchange.
Even the businesses west of Highway 22, such as Best Buy and the River Hills Mall, supported the second option.
Zach Meyer, Best Buy’s general manager, explained why. Yes, the first option pours traffic directly into the River Hills Mall ring road, just north of Best Buy. But that option can’t catch traffic from Highways 22 or 14. And even if they’re across Highway 22 from Best Buy, a potential customer can at least see the business and can probably figure out how to get there, Meyer said.
If you take the regular detour, you may not even see Best Buy, Hy-Vee or many of the businesses in the area.
“It’s a huge improvement,” said Dan Olson, store director at the Hilltop Hy-Vee. “I have to give a lot of credit to MnDOT.”
It wasn’t all back-slapping, though.
Todd Snell, president and CEO of Snell Motors, directed his disappointment at Blue Earth County, which is in the middle of a two-year project to reconstruct Highway 17, also called Madison Avenue.
He doesn’t believe the county has to close Highway 17 for another year, requiring his company to “endure another loss of Eagle Lake business.”
County Engineer Al Forsberg said he would explore ways to speed up the project next summer, but suggested it wasn’t prudent to delay it until 2015. Snell suggested that the county be “more creative” to get it done faster or create a temporary road.
“It’s not acceptable. Eagle Lake needs to open and it needs to stay open,” he said.
As another effort to improve access, MnDOT said it would move quickly to create the roundabout at Adams Street so it could open that intersection after eight to 10 weeks. The whole project is expected to take 13 weeks.