by April Scheinoha
Lately, it seems like Highway 59 is synonymous with construction. Such will be the case again this summer. At its meeting Tuesday, April 11, the Pennington County Board approved a detour agreement related to the Highway 59 project south of Thief River Falls.
As part of the project, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will construct a roundabout near Seven Clans Casino, Hotel and Water Park in Thief River Falls. The roundabout is part of an estimated $9.1 million project to mill and overlay Highway 59 from south of Pennington County Road 2, south of Thief River Falls, to half a mile south of CR 62. As part of the project, Highway 59 will be widened from Falls Cinema to the future roundabout, according to Shawn Groven with the MnDOT office in Thief River Falls. Culverts will also be replaced.
In an interview with the Northern Watch, Groven said the project is expected to begin Monday, May 15. However, the start date is dependent on spring load restrictions. Construction is expected to take about three months.
Motorists can expect a three-week detour at the beginning of the project as the crew works on constructing a bypass road and works on some culverts. However, eastbound traffic coming from St. Hilaire will encounter a detour for the majority of the project. Westbound traffic coming from the casino will encounter a detour for two weeks toward the end of the project as the crew builds the eastern leg of the roundabout.
As part of the $3,283.07 detour agreement, Pennington County will enable MnDOT to use CSAHs 3, 7, 8 and 17 as the temporary detour.
R.J. Zavoral & Sons has been awarded the project. The construction project is located north of a mill and overlay project that occurred last summer from Pennington County Road 53 to just south of Brooks.
The MnDOT website indicated that the 2023 project is expected to provide “a safer highway, a longer lasting road surface, improved drainage and a safer intersection.”
Commissioners approved seeking bids for bridge projects this summer. The date of the bid opening hadn’t been set as of the County Board meeting.
The county is seeking bids for work near Long’s bridge, the River Valley bridge, the Highlanding bridge, the Smiley bridge and Long’s bridge. For the first four bridge projects, slopes would be repaired under each bridge, and the asphalt would be replaced up to the bridges. The slope under the south abutment of Long’s bridge would be repaired as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency project. The bridge would also be milled and overlaid.