169 ground breaking

Politicians, officials and St. Peter business owners toss a little ceremonial sand Monday to officially kick off the Highway 169 reconstruction project that will begin in earnest July 6.

John Cross
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter Mayor Tim Strand may have summed it up best:

“This is the start of a very hard and tedious summer project ... that will bring a great enhancement to our city.”

Strand and seven other groundbreaking-ceremony speakers uttered odes Monday to a massive downtown construction project set to begin next week and last through fall.

The Highway 169/Minnesota Avenue project will reconstruct that main artery through the city, replace sewer and water lines, and detour northbound and southbound traffic through town.

The project, one of the first in the state to use federal stimulus money, will create about 300 jobs.

It also will pose significant challenges to downtown commerce, an issue that has been discussed in multiple public meetings leading up to construction.

A Discover St. Peter Committee has been formed to help business owners weather the project, and a Web site — www.discover169.com — will keep the public abreast of the latest construction information, detour maps and special business community promotions.

“This project is a model for economic stimulus,” Minnesota Department of Transportation Comm-issioner Tom Sorel said, adding that 10,000 jobs are expected to be created by various stimulus projects statewide.

Sorel labeled the St. Peter endeavor a “contact-sensitive” project, meaning that pains have been taken to ensure it is responsive to the needs and values of affected citizens.

At present, Front Street between Jefferson Avenue and Walnut Street is being resurfaced to accommodate one-way detoured northbound traffic starting Monday.

Southbound traffic will be detoured to Washington Avenue.

Truck traffic will be detoured to Highway 22/County Road 15 and Highway 99.

Weekly meetings for property and business owners adjacent to the project will be held in St. Peter Community Center 7:30 a.m. Fridays starting July 10.

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