The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 11, 2014

County will pay to fast track highway project

MANKATO — A month from now, Blue Earth County Road 17 (Madison Avenue as it heads east to Eagle Lake) will be shut down for the second straight construction season but will be reopened on the Mankato end by June 1 under an agreement giving Mathiowetz Construction $45,000 in financial incentives to work fast.

That deadline is crucial to east-side businesses and local drivers in the area because June 1 is the date Highway 22 will be closed at Madison Avenue and Adams Street for the $7.2 million project to construct roundabouts at those intersections. That project will seriously disrupt normal traffic flow on the city's east-side retail hub, and County Road 17 must be available as a detour route to County Road 12 (the airport road) to avoid huge traffic snarls.

With that in mind, Blue Earth County is paying Mathiowetz $10,000 to get started by April 15 on the second year of work on the two-year $10.3 million County Road 17 upgrade.

"It reflects real costs the contractor will have ...," Public Works Director Al Forsberg said of Mathiowetz needing to bring multiple pieces of paving equipment to the work zone this spring and then bring the equipment back later in the summer for the eastern portion of the work near Eagle Lake.

Along with the automatic $10,000 payment, Mathiowetz will receive an additional $35,000 for completing the planned roundabout at County Road 17 and Carver Road and reopening the road to traffic by June 1. Part of the two-year project involves expanding County Road 17 to four lanes from Mankato Ford to County Road 12. Mathiowetz may finish all four lanes by June 1, but it isn't required to as long as at least two lanes are open by June, Forsberg said.

From County Road 12 east to Eagle Lake, the road will remain a two-lane highway, but the project involves a complete reconstruction and repaving of the road.

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