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Seven Wadena businesses in way of Hwy. 10 reconstruction

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has identified seven structures that it is in the process of acquiring in order to make way for the reconstruction of U.S. Hwy. 10 in 2019.

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Ferrellgas along Hwy. 10 in Wadena is one of several businesses planned to be removed to make way for the reconstructed Hwy. 10. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
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The Minnesota Department of Transportation has identified seven structures that it is in the process of acquiring in order to make way for the reconstruction of U.S. Hwy. 10 in 2019.

Structures identified by MnDOT to be removed in 2019 include Ferrellgas at the southwest corner of the intersection of 2nd Street and Hwy. 10; Orton's BP at the southeast corner of Hwy. 10 and Hwy. 71; Albers Realty at 561 Ash Ave. NE; and Hunke's Oil next to the Fastenal building. Negotiations are still ongoing for these businesses to determine if they will be removed or possibly altered to fit the new highway width.

Buildings that are going down now and through this spring include the former Star Tribune Depot, former Wadena Light & Water and former Fastenal. Those buildings have all been vacated. Another building, Hanson's Tire, was demolished as part of the County 4 realignment project taking place this summer.

MnDOT project manager Claudia Dumont said the reconstruction is needed to repair a failing roadway and add upgrades that improve the safety for vehicle traffic and pedestrians. She said the base concrete of the highway has been there since 1948.

Plans are underway to improve and reconstruct the two lane urban segment in 2019. The project comes at a cost of $8.8 million. The project replaces the stop lights at the two intersections with Hwy. 71 and Second Street.The new roadway will include a concrete median separating the eastbound and westbound lanes and wide shoulders that can be striped as through-lanes in the future.

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According to Dumont, this means even though parts of the road will be striped as two lanes, they will be wide enough that they could be turned into four-lanes of traffic with changes to the striping.

The choice of businesses that have to leave came when MnDOT decided to hold the current curbline to the north, citing that there are more businesses impacted to the north than to the south of the highway, so this minimized the impact. The only building to be removed to the north is the former Light & Water building, which is removed to allow for a wider turning radius in the intersection.

Owners and managers of the remaining businesses that are expected to have to vacate their buildings to the south of Hwy. 10 have mixed feelings about them being chosen to leave.

Orton's

Frank Orton, owner of Orton's BP gas station at the main junction in Wadena said he'd rather not have to leave as it is a prime spot for his business, seeing thousands of vehicles daily.

He said the business is still in negotiations with MnDOT about a purchase price for the gas station, which includes a detached car wash. Orton said they plan to continue to keep their doors open for business as least through Labor Day.

He added they had not secured a different property at this point, needing to come to an agreement on the sale of the current property first.

"It's a very good site for us," Orton said. "We'd prefer if it never happened, but we don't have a lot of say in that."

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Hunke's

Pat Hunke, owner of Hunke's Transfer in Wadena, also owns Hunke's Fuel Station, next to Hwy. 10 once owned by Kern Oil. He said it's still up in the air whether they totally vacate or just partially vacate the site. They could have to move everything out, or move some of their storage tanks underground and rearrange how the site is accessed. But until they hear back about an offer, they are unsure what might change. If they moved from the site completely it may mean adding additional services at their site in the industrial park.

"Supposedly they are going to completely buy us out," Pat Hunke said. "It will be inconvenient for us. The Hwy. 10 spot is popular. It will be kind of devastingating."

He added that being able to stay next to the railway could allow them to take advantage of fuel by the rails.

Hunke said that the state is responsible for paying the relocation costs in order to help the business remain viable in a new location.

Ferrellgas and Albers Realty did not return calls to comment on the project.

10-Star

10 Star Auto Clinic is also in the thick of things, but so far owner Keith VanOrsdel said he is staying put. Staying between an expanded highway and the railway means he will have a new sidewalk basically right next to his building. It will also mean he will have to change how customers access his business. But staying put means MnDOT is paying for an expansion to his building, allowing him to go from two shop bays to four.

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"I think it will help," VanOrsdel said. "I will gain more shop area."

And it allows him to stay in a location with easy walking access to restaurants and residential housing. He's glad he can stay because, as he said, there isn't a better place to relocate to.

He mentioned one problem, which potentially hurts many businesses on the new stretch, is the concrete medians. MnDOT said the medians improve safety by creating a barrier to oncoming traffic and reducing slow traffic because drivers will have limited options for turning left across traffic. That safety feature means traffic will have limited options for turning into businesses.

Turn lanes and sidewalks

According to Dumont, instead of the continuous center left turn lane that is in place now, the raised median will provide left turn lanes at 2nd Street West, Hwy. 71, 2nd St East and at the new County Road 4 connection.

She added that the sidewalk along the north side of Hwy. 10 will replaced, but in the same location, and it will be extended east to the new County Road 4 connection. A new sidewalk will be constructed along the south side of Hwy 10 to match the sidewalk on the north side.

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