Photo by Barbie Porter
During a recent public hearing hosted by MnDOT, B&D Transport owner Dave Coufal asked about access to his business when the project work begins along State Highway 87. Birch Avenue (County Highway 29) is where the detour begins, directing vehicles toward State Highway 34.

Businesses, patrons will have access during construction

By Barbie Porter


Dave Coufal owns B&D Transport along State Highway 87, about a mile out of Frazee. The booming business counts on highways to get the job done, and the truckers there have dealt with a fair share of detours to deliver goods. However, the Highway 87 project created concern, as it was questionable if trucks would be able to reach the headquarters of the business.

During a public meeting on Tuesday, April 13, which was hosted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Coufal said not allowing the transport service to utilize the highway would “significantly impact his business.” He asked if MnDOT would help with the county’s detour plans through Frazee to accommodate for large semis. 

The MnDOT officials at the meeting offered to visit with Coufal so they could review alternative truck routes together and create a plan that would offer the least disruption to his business. 

“That would be fantastic,” he said.

It was also stated the Frazee Golf Course customers, which is a short jaunt from B&D Transport, will also have access to the 9-hole course. However, reaching the business may require alternative routes be used. 

Those potentially impacted by the road work were encouraged to sign up for weekly updates on the MnDOT website, which can be found through an internet search, Highway 87 projects near Frazee.

Roadwork to begin May 3, weather permitting

The reconstruction project for State Highway 87 is set to begin May 3. The first segment scheduled for construction is from Evergreen to the Becker/Wadena County line. 

The work from Frazee to Evergreen is scheduled to begin May 10. 

Both crews will start on the east end and work west with several operations taking place simultaneously. 

The contract for the work was awarded to Mark Sand & Gravel.

MnDOT provided a detour map, which shuttles thru-traffic either to Highway 29 to Highway 34, or from Highway 71 to Highway 34. Thru-traffic will be required to use the detour. Residents along Highway 87, or those that have a destination in the work zone, will be allowed to enter the work area.

During the highway project, MnDOT notified drivers that daily lane closures in the area where crews are working should be expected. There will be flaggers directing traffic, and when needed pilot cars to safely lead vehicles through a work zone. When bridge work begins that section will be impassable and an alternative route will be provided.

The bridges to be replaced between Frazee and Evergreen were stated to include the crossing of the Otter Tail River in the city of Frazee, as well as the crossing at County Road 115. The bridge crossing Toad River will not be replaced at this time. It was stated an artesian well was too near the bridge and replacing the structure would come with environmental risk.

Kay Reierson, MnDOT construction, reviewed the project plan. She said the road work will span from North River Drive in Frazee to the county lines of Becker and Wadena (near 590 Avenue). 

Widening the shoulder by eight additional feet on both sides of the highway will happen from North River Drive in Frazee to Evergreen. Center line and box culvert replacements and improvements will also be made as well as robust resurfacing of the road.

The work extending from Evergreen to the county line will include the same road reclamation to provide a smoother, longer lasting road surface and other culvert and road improvements.

When asked why the shoulder widening stopped at Evergreen, a MnDOT representative explained the reasons were primarily attributed to cost and safety. It was noted the shoulder widening is a big undertaking and expensive. The state allotted enough funds for part of the road to have the improvement. The section from Evergreen to Frazee was chosen to accommodate pedestrians, the Amish and provide a safe area where drivers can pull to the side of the road, if needed.

A meeting attendee asked if the Amish pay a road usage tax.

It was stated the question posed has been a common one, and a MnDOT representative said the Amish do not pay a road usage tax, but they do pay other taxes. While the Amish use the roads, so do other people and the project is looking out for the safety of all.

Other questions asked by those attending the meeting included:

• With center line work being completed, does that mean the center line is being shifted and therefore impact the right of way?

A MnDOT representative explained the center line was not moving, unless the state organization purchased a right-of-way easement to do so.

• Will townships in the work area be allowed to haul gravel to township roads and maintain them? 

MnDOT representatives stated general maintenance to township roads should not be an issue.

• The detours may cause increased traffic on some township roads, there were concerns about the impacts on those roads.

MnDOT representatives encouraged any township officials concerned about roads that may see increased use to contact call Katy Reierson at (218) 846-3521 or Makala Simon at (320) 905-8959.

• Will all existing approaches remain?

MnDOT representatives stated they believed all approaches would remain as is. It was noted one in the Frazee to Evergreen work area will be widened with a regrade.

• Will there be dust control provided for the gravel portion of County Road 150?

  MnDOT stated if dust control is needed the agency will work with the county to get the job done.

•  During construction will there be substantial drops at intersection lanes for motorcycle friendliness?

A MnDOT representative replied there shouldn’t be drop offs, and wedges would be put in place for safety reasons as well as bump signs where needed.

• Will all signage along Highway 87 replaced?

Yes, it will, a MnDOT employee stated.

• Can those residing along the road still get mail and package delivery?

A MnDOT employee explained the mailboxes may be relocated, depending on work being done. If a resident is concerned with delivery issues, they should contact MnDOT. 

• Will vehicles still be able to cross Highway 87 when traveling north or south?

The answer to this question was yes.

• Are there plans to cut down any hills along the project area to improve sight lines?

The answer was no, and it was noted the current hills are all within the state standards for appropriate sight lines.