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Highway 34 construction update

Traffic congestion in Park Rapids around July 4th serves as a reminder of why a wider Highway 34 through the city will bring relief.

The two-year reconstruction project began in May with weekly contractors' meetings to inform the public about what's coming up.

For awhile, underground utility work in the vicinity of Riverside Avenue was going to require water to be turned off on the entire east side of the city.

That won't happen.

The contractor agreed to wait until the new eastside watertower is in operation. That could be as early as Tuesday.

At this week's construction meeting, Gary Fingalson of Sellin Brothers, Hawley, said the tentative plan is to shut down water on the first two blocks of Riverside Avenue only for about five hours starting early Tuesday morning. That will only happen, however, if the watertower is online.

Meanwhile, underground utility work - water, storm and sanitary sewer - on the south half of Highway 34 between Western and Helten avenues is expected to be nearly completed by this weekend.

Once Sellin Brothers' work is done in that section, the general contractor will begin doing earthwork as the first step in restoring the road to a drivable condition.

Earthwork also is beginning on the south half of the highway from Fair Avenue east where utility work is complete.

Fingalson also reported that once the Hubbard County Fair ends Sunday, July 15, the building on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds will be removed. Once the building is gone, contractors can begin work to realign Fair and Helten avenues.

The detour from Western Avenue to Helten Avenue on Highway 34 remains in effect. Westbound traffic is routed north on Western Avenue to Monico Lane, east to Helten Avenue and south to Highway 34. Traffic from the opposite direction will follow the detour in reverse.

Weekly construction meetings are at 1 p.m. Thursdays at the Park Rapids Area Library, located at 210 West 1st St.