MANKATO — The biggest construction project in Mankato this year isn't a city project, it's the roundabout construction job that will shut down Highway 22 between Bassett Drive and Highway 14 in a little over a week.
But Mankato's Public Works Department has a few other projects ready to go that — while not shutting down the busiest road in town like the Minnesota Department of Transportation's $7.1 million Highway 22 upgrade — will cause isolated inconvenience for drivers around the city.
For short periods of time, Hoffman Road, South Front Street, small portions of Cherry and Warren Streets, and part of Adams Street will be closed for construction. While all of those have relatively high traffic volumes, the closures — with the exception of South Front Street — will range from just a couple of days to about three weeks.
The most visible project downtown — and one slated to start this week — will be the $1.6 million South Front Street revitalization. The job will make the 500 and 600 blocks of South Front Street more attractive and more pedestrian friendly and replace the pavement, along with redesigning the pedestrian mall between Cherry Street and the Mankato Place mall.
"It's a big project and it has tight timelines," said city engineer Jeff Johnson. "We've got a lot of business owners affected by this project."
It's also adding a major street project adjacent to what's probably the largest private downtown revitalization project in Mankato history on the block surrounded by Front, Warren and Cherry streets and Riverfront Drive. A seven-story office tower is under construction, along with a four-story business/apartment building and a multi-story parking ramp, and a five story office tower is slated to begin construction later in the summer.
Despite a beehive-busy construction zone, pedestrian access will continue throughout the project to the bars, restaurants, drug store and other businesses on Front Street, although the street will be closed to vehicle traffic for several weeks. The 500 block of Front Street (home to Pagliai's Pizza, South Street Saloon, Pub 500, Pita Pit and others) along with the improvements to the pedestrian mall, are slated to be completed by July 26 because owners of hospitality businesses wanted visitors to Vikings training camp to have easy access.