Top 10 stories of 2016: No 2, Red Wing rejoices at the conclusion of Main Street reconstruction

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Downtown Red Wing got a new look in 2016 with the completion of the two-year, multimillion-dollar Main Street/Highway 61 reconstruction project.

Reopening of the Plum Street intersection in late-August marked the end of major construction work on the project that included resurfacing the roadway and renovating sidewalks from Potter Street to Old West Main Street.

"I am extremely happy with how the project turned out, and I would like to thank the City Council for supporting us every step of the way," City Engineer Jay Owens wrote in an email Dec. 15 recapping efforts by Meyer Contracting, engineering firm Bolton & Menk and city staff over the past two years.

Owens said the project was assisted along the way by cooperation among the community, local businesses and the Main Event Committee led by Patty Brown with Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce.

"She deserves a big thank you from all of us involved in the project as her work was so important to our success," Owens said.

The chamber president likewise thanked contractors, engineers, the city, businesses, residents and visitors for their support and patience. She said the project has brought improvements to traffic flow and pedestrian safety that will benefit the community for years to come.

"This was a massive project with many parts and everyone did a great job working together," Brown said. "There were many challenges including access for businesses, traffic flow, commercial truck traffic and safety to name a few, but we are so pleased with the outcome of this project."

Cheryl Smith-Mohn, owner of Bella Casa Design Studio, said tourists and locals avoided downtown during construction, but the area is again active and thriving.

Once the detour signs and road closed ahead notices were removed, new businesses began to "rise from the rubble," she said, pointing to the fact the retail multi-storefront Boxrud Building, which houses her business, is now full.

Motorists can expect to see orange cones pop up again soon when work begins to replace the Highway 63 bridge over the Mississippi River and alter approach roads on the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides. The $100 million project is slated to begin in May 2017 and wrap up by fall 2020.

But for now, Owens added about Main Street reconstruction: "I think I can speak for all in saying 'It's nice to be done.'"

Project timeline

•April 2016 — Phase 1 of construction begins on Highway 61 southbound from East Avenue to Old West Main Street.

•May 2016 — City officials, staff, local business owners and other community members gather on Main Street to officials kick-off the project.

•June 2015 — Concrete pouring begins on southbound lanes moving west as the Old West Main Street intersection closes.

•July 2015 — Traffic is flipped to the newly completed southbound Highway 61 and construction shifts to the northbound lanes.

•August 2015 — Work begins to wrap up to bring phase 1 to close.

•March 2016 — Phase 2 begins on southbound lanes from Broad Street to east of Potter Street.

•April 2016 — Crews work on underground utilities in the area between Potter and Plum streets.

•May 2016 — The Plum Street intersection is next to close as work moves west.

•June 2016 — Concrete pouring wraps up on soundbound lanes, allowing construction to flip to the other side of the highway.

•July 2016 — Concrete pouring on northbound Highway 61 is paused to finish sidewalk work ahead of the annual River City Days. Hot weather also causes problems with concrete curing process.

•August 2016 — Major construction wraps up on phase 2.

•September 2016 — Crews finish final landscaping along Main Street.