North River Drive will remain open, accessible
By Barbie Porter
The Otter Tail River bridge is coming down. Work to dismantle the bridge in Frazee began this week, making the road impassable between North River Drive and Main Avenue East.
Emma Olson, Minnesota Department of Transportation’s public affairs coordinator, estimated the work will take about 21/2 months.
Those with property, or business to conduct in the construction area, can get around the bridge construction by taking East Main Avenue. Depending on which way one is traveling, East Main Avenue will lead into downtown Frazee or to beyond the bridge and onto State Highway 87.
If looking to access State Highway 87 from East Main Avenue, understand only those utilizing a business or going to a residence are allowed into the work area. Other travelers need to take the detour. The detour follows Becker County Road 29 (also known as Birch Avenue in Frazee city limits) to State Highway 34 to where it connects with State Highway 71. The detour will add an estimated additional 20 miles to travel, so motorists should plan ahead.
Initially, road work was to begin in two spots, at the county line of Becker and Wadena and in Evergreen.
The section near the county lines to Evergreen is being reclaimed and resurfaced. The highway from Evergreen into Frazee will also be reclaimed and resurfaced, as well as the addition of eight feet on each side of the highway for shoulder usage. Culvert replacements and bridge work were also part of the project.
Shoulder widening work along State Highway 87 was to start in Evergreen and move towards Frazee. Last week the plan changed. The work began in Frazee and will move east.
“With all of the hauling that’s taking place along the project in both sections east and west of Evergreen, there would have been too much coming together in one spot,” Olson, said. “So by starting the shoulder widening work near Frazee, we can avoid having too much truck/equipment congestion within Evergreen.”
Olson said the shoulder widening will be done in one mile segments with one-to-two miles completed each week.
“They won’t begin reclaiming and paving in this area until they finish all widening up to Evergreen,” she said.
In a press release by MnDOT, it stated the entire project is slated to be completed by October.
North River Drive
still open to public
The detour signs are set up along Birch Avenue to direct non-thru traffic down Becker County Highway 29. However, roadway up to the bridge closure is open to the public, including North River Drive.
“Once the bridge work starts, the road will be impassable at the Otter Tail River, but everyone will still has access to the school and North River Drive, that won’t change,” Olson said.
North River Drive has residences along the roadway, and is a primary access for those attending softball and baseball games.
Common questions that MnDOT has received also include whether or not travelers using township or county roads can cross State Highway 87. MnDOT Project Manager Thomas Pace said, yes, crossings are still open and available. The only places that may be an issue is if there is a crossing where a culvert is being replaced, as that specific section will be closed until the work is completed.
Another common question has been if there will ever come a time during the project work when those living along the highway will not have access to their residences. Pace assured those that live along State Highway 87 will always be able to access their homes.
Slow down and be
“Please, slow down, drive with caution,” Pace said.
Flaggers are controlling traffic flow, but those without business or a residence along the highway should find an alternate route.
MnDOT urges motorists to slow down in work zones and to never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones.
“Just a reminder to local traffic that the entire roadway is an active work zone,” Olson said. “Even though the daily work may be isolated to a specific area, there are workers, heavy equipment, trucks hauling, etc., throughout the entire project. So we just ask that everyone please stay alert and travel with caution anywhere along Highway 87.”
For more information about the project and to sign up for email updates, visit the project website www.mndot.gov/d4/projects/frazee.
For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org.