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City gets update on 71 project

The U.S. Highway 71 reconstruction has hit a few bumps in the road, but is getting completed, according to Wadena's city engineer.

Jade Berube said all underground utilities are installed and grading was expected to be completed by the end of this week.

There was more grading than planned along the east side of the roadway, Berube said, because the sidewalk slopes had to be modified in order to comply with new Americans with Disabilities Act requirements set by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. MnDOT currently has two lawsuits pending against it relating to ADA accessibility, he said.

Once the grading is complete, aggregate installation will follow, which should take a few days, Berube said. Then concrete work including curb and gutter will be done followed by paving. The wear course may be delayed until next spring if the weather does not cooperate, he said.

"It's been a hectic project," Berube said.

City officials expressed some concerns they had with the reconstruction.

Mayor Wayne Wolden is concerned about MnDOT providing money to rebuild the detour route that ran through town, he said.

"I'd love to take a camera and just sit along there and take photos of all the 18-wheel local truckers who are using the car route," Wolden said. "We're going to have street problems."

Berube said they will have those discussions at the county level as well because its roads were used for the detour too.

City Administrator Brad Swenson said he had a comment about an issue that may come up when the city has a public hearing about the project. The excavation was opened up and never closed until now, he said. A lot of people didn't have access to the fronts of their property for five to six weeks.

"We had promised people early on that they would have access almost daily to their properties," Swenson said.

This contractor does this differently, he added. Part of that is because of the time lines he's under, the depth involved and the water.

"The people have been very patient," Swenson said. "Their patience has run out."

The city started to notice dwindling patience this week because of some of the problems last week with the freezing of water lines, he said.

Berube said the piles of dirt were an issue that was discussed many times with the contractor.

Public Work Director Ron Bucholz also pointed out that a lot of trees were removed along the boulevard mostly because of the sidewalk. He hopes the city can obtain funding to replace them, he said.