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Preparations underway for Highway 34 construction to resume in Park Rapids

Although activity along Highway 34 east in Park Rapids started this week and will continue next week, serious construction isn't scheduled to start until May 5.

Next week, contractors will start landscaping and other related finishing work on the portion of the project that was completed last year.

On the east end of the project, survey crews may be out and traffic controls will be set up.

At the first construction meeting Thursday afternoon, Allan Minnerath of Central Specialties, Alexandria, general contractor, said beginning Monday, May 5 the south half of Highway 34 will be closed between Riverside Avenue and Co. Rd. 107. Traffic signals at Central and CSAH 6 (Henrietta Avenue) also will be turned off.

The highway will be restricted to two-way traffic on the north side to allow storm and sanitary sewer work to get underway.

This season there will be no designated detours, according to Larry Randall, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) project supervisor. The CSAH 15 river crossing between Highway 71 and Highway 34 will be the logical alternate route, he added.

"We hope there won't be as many issues as last year; that things will go more smoothly," Minnerath said.

There is more underground utility work this year than last and that takes the most time, Minnerath added.

"Dollarwise the project is 62 percent complete," according to Randall. "Everyone wants to get it done as quick as possible, but the work is always weather dependent.

"Everyone will do their best," Randall said.

The contract completion date is Nov 15. Contractors said they hope to finish earlier.

The first phase of the $11.3 million project, reconstruction of the highway from the intersection of Highways 71 and 34 to the west end of town, was completed last year.

Central Specialties will hold weekly public information meetings at 1 p.m. Thursdays at the Park Rapids Area Library.

Permits for overweight and over width vehicles will not be issued for the area from the junction of Highways 34 and 71 to the junction of Highway 34 and Co. Rd. 107 for the duration of the project.