WASECA — Mark and Pat Pearson have been patiently waiting for their historic Waseca home on Elm Street to become the place it was when they first saw it a decade ago.
It was the Friday after Thanksgiving when the traveled to Waseca from the Twin Cities to look at the Victorian-style house that was built in 1898. They bought it that day. Due to the holiday, the street was far less active than usual.
They moved in sometime after Christmas and quickly discovered that Elm Street was more than a busy city street that runs through the heart of Waseca. After watching dozens of semis rumble by, they realized their beautiful front porch was actually overlooking Highway 14 — one of the busiest thoroughfares in southern Minnesota.
That changed at 9 p.m. Friday when a new Highway 14 bypass was opened to traffic, connecting Waseca to Owatonna with four lanes of highway instead of two. It also sends those semis south of town instead of down Elm Street.
“I don’t mind the cars at all,” Mark Pearson said Saturday as he watered his flowers and bushes. There was still a steady flow of local traffic passing his house.
“When I’m inside, I can’t even hear them. It’s the trucks that I don’t like. I could feel them coming before I could see them.”
Although the Pearsons said they will be enjoying quieter nights without the sound of diesel Jake brakes, they are both concerned about Waseca businesses that have depended on a constant flow of travelers through town. They know the owner of Country Collection Antiques & More, a business west of downtown.
“I’m a little worried that not as many people are going to stop at the gas stations and shops in Waseca,” Mark Pearson said. “They’re just going to go right on by when they’re on the new highway.”