MANKATO — The long-planned improvements to 17 miles of Highway 60 from south of Madison Lake to Waterville are set to begin next week.
The initial work will involve only tree trimming and removal starting March 4, but the first of two lengthy detours could begin by April on the western half of the project.
Along with new pavement from the junction with Highway 14 east of Eagle Lake to Highway 13 in Waterville, the $21 million project will bring a variety of changes to Highway 60 in Madison Lake.
A complete reconstruction of the street is planned for Madison Lake, where an urban design will be implemented with curbing, more street lighting, two new left-turn lanes, and better pedestrian amenities.
The highway separates the lake from downtown businesses, and many of the changes aim to make for a safer and more pleasant roadway for pedestrians.
Gaps in sidewalks will be filled, some existing sidewalks will see boulevards added to provide more distance from traffic, sidewalks will be widened, pedestrian crossings will be made shorter thanks to bump-out curbs, and pedestrian-activated flashing lights will warn drivers that people are preparing to cross the highway at Fourth Street.
All of that work, plus new pavement from the junction with Highway 14 through Elysian, will require the closure of the highway to most traffic starting in April and continuing into July. Thru-traffic will be detoured on Highway 14 and Old Highway 14 to Janesville and on Waseca County Road 3 (East Elysian Lake Road) from Janesville to just east of Elysian.
If construction is completed on that stretch in July as scheduled, Highway 60 will reopen between Highway 14 and Elysian and work will move to the section starting on the east side of Elysian to Waterville. The eastern phase of the project will create a different detour until October when the Elysian-to-Waterville segment is expected to be finished.
The second detour will send Highway 60 traffic to the north, using Le Sueur County Road 11 at Elysian, County Road 12 north of Lake Tetonka and Highway 13 in Waterville.
The tree removal starting next week, which needs to be done early in the year to prevent protected bats from making their homes in the trees, will have little to no impact on travel, although the Minnesota Department of Transportation asks drivers to watch for workers and equipment on the shoulder. Tree removal sites are randomly located throughout the project with areas of focus around Blue Earth County Road 44 and Le Sueur County Road 11.
Detour maps, an animated video of the upcoming changes in Madison Lake, and other project information can be found at www.dot.state.mn.us/d7/projects/hwy60madisonlake/.