by Joni Astrup
Motorists will encounter single-lane traffic and access closures with detours as a Highway 169 bridge project hits full stride next week.
The southbound Highway 169 bridge over Highway 10 in Elk River will be closed for a few weeks beginning early next week. The tentative closure date is Monday, June 6, but Project Engineer Dan Labo said it’s a “rolling target” between Monday, June 6 and Wednesday, June 8. “More than likely it will probably be Tuesday (June 7) or Wednesday (June 8),” he said of the bridge closure.
The bridge is scheduled to be closed until June 25, weather permitting, to allow the bridge to be resurfaced and the railings replaced.
Traffic will be diverted onto the northbound bridge, with one lane for northbound traffic and one for southbound.
The following restrictions will also be in place:
•the Highway 10 eastbound loop to northbound Highway 169, which is already closed, will continue to be closed.
•the Highway 10 westbound loop to Highway 101 south will close.
•the southbound Highway 169 loop to eastbound Highway 10 will close.
Detours will be in place (see map at right).
Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe strongly suggests that motorists find alternate routes outside of Elk River if possible or at least avoid the construction zone.
“We are expecting significant traffic delays during the morning and evening commutes as well as the Friday evening (northbound) and Sunday evening (southbound) weekend cabin commutes,” he said.
The police department also looks for traffic congestion on Parrish Avenue in Otsego and in the Highway 10/Main Street/Parrish Avenue area. And, police expect traffic increases on side streets as motorists seek alternate routes in addition to the designated detour routes.
Rolfe, meanwhile, said the construction contractor is paying for a limited amount of police officer overtime for traffic control during the project, but that in no way means that traffic will flow without delay.
“Officers will attempt to relieve gridlock if it occurs and mitigate hazardous situations but, again, we anticipate significant traffic delays,” he said. “Though we are anticipating areas of congestion we won’t know where the real problem areas will be until the detours are in effect and we see motorists’ reaction to them.”
He said the police department has a flexible traffic control plan and will have officers respond to the areas of need when possible. The police department anticipates the need for traffic control in the early days of the project with reduced need as motorists settle in to their changed routes.
Rolfe suggests motorists plan their alternate routes now, stay clear of the construction zone if possible, watch for traffic updates on the media and message boards and pay attention to detour signs.
“Be an attentive and courteous driver; be patient,” he advises.
by Joni Astrup