LAKE CITY -- Since mid-April, anyone wanting to drive from Red Wing to Lake City or anywhere south has been sent on a detour on Highway 58 and Goodhue County 5., then through Lake City on North Tenth Street. That extensive detour is now gone, because crews from Rochester Sand and Gravel finished work on Section 1 -- the north end -- of the reconstruction project last Saturday.

Travelers can now stay on Highway 61 from Red Wing to the north edge of Lake City where they take a much shorter detour on County 5 to North Tenth Street.

“We are also making good progress on Section 2 of the project,” said Cindy Morgan, public engagement coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “They are finishing the backfilling after excavating sewer and water main work. Very soon they will be putting in those pieces that look like a roadway to us - asphalt, curb and gutter, and sidewalk.”

Crews from Rochester Sand and Gravel put the final touches on Section 1 of the Highway 61 reconstruction project in Lake City on June 18. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Crews from Rochester Sand and Gravel put the final touches on Section 1 of the Highway 61 reconstruction project in Lake City on June 18. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

When Section 2 -- the south end -- of the project is complete, the detour through Lake City will be shortened again, with traffic being routed on North Seventh Street and turned on to Lyon Avenue back to Highway 61 as work crews concentrate their efforts on Section 3, the middle and final segment of the reconstruction project.

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“With COVID-19 and the construction, there were two big impacts for businesses,” Morgan said. “We’ve really done our best to mitigate impacts. We have had a communications group which is a collaboration between us and the contractor, the city, and the chamber, and we were freely communicating with any issues that we found, so we were getting to the bottom of things quicker. It has been helpful in addressing things as they come up.”

Now that work on Section 1 has completed, Morgan said that work on the middle section, which until now has been left alone, could begin at any time.

“That is a decision the contractor will make,” Morgan said, “but it is a little heads up for the community.”