MANKATO — Drivers who regularly use North Riverfront Drive got their road back in August.
Commuters and shoppers detoured from Blue Earth County Road 12 and Adams Street this summer have been able to take the new roundabout for a spin since early September.
People reliant on South Victory Drive saw the orange barrels disappear Sept. 10.
And for downtown Mankato drivers still facing barricades at Warren Street? October.
“Probably toward the end of that first week of October to the start of the second week,” said Assistant City Engineer Michael McCarty of the anticipated reopening.
That’s almost exactly the predicted completion date for the largest project in the city during the 2021 construction season.
The $5.4 million reconstruction, which closed Warren starting in early May, has caused a noticeable jump in traffic on Cherry Street and caused some unaccustomed congestion during afternoon peak driving times.
The traffic backups were exacerbated by construction on other roads serving Mankato’s hilltop and Minnesota State University, particularly for a couple of weeks when Main Street joined Warren and Victory Drive on the “road closed” list.
“For a little bit, with Main Street being closed, we put a little more pressure on Cherry than we intended,” McCarty said. “It was a little more delay at some of those intersections than people were used to.”
Those other roads are now reopened and Warren is close to joining them. Pavement is in place from downtown to Glenwood Avenue, and concrete work on curbs and sidewalks is being finished on the upper part of the project. Once that work is done and sod is laid on the boulevards, the final asphalt can be put in place without any worries about cement trucks or other heavy equipment damaging the new driving surface.
The project replaced underground utilities, added wider sidewalks and boulevards, installed modern semaphores at Broad and Second streets, and aimed to create a more attractive connection between the city center and MSU.
Even with autumn’s arrival and the construction season nearing its end, drivers in the valley will be seeing orange one more time.
Next week new pavement is scheduled to be laid on Riverfront Drive between Vine Street and Third Avenue, which will close lanes and prompt detours for certain movements between Riverfront and Madison Avenue.
“We want to get that surface in better shape going into winter. It’s pretty rough,” McCarty said, adding that it will be a quick job if dry weather continues. “If everything cooperates, we should be in and out in a week.”