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$1.6 million Oakland Avenue project ahead of schedule

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Oakland Avenue East is expected to re-open late next week, a few weeks earlier than initially targeted, the city engineer says.

Officials plan to re-open the three-block stretch of Oakland Avenue — a major four-lane roadway between First and Fourth streets — by June 12, City Engineer Jon Erichson told the Austin City Council on Monday. The initial target was July 1.

Work restarted in early May on three blocks of Oakland Avenue’s former long-time underpass, with the current phase focused on installing permanent concrete paving. Other improvements include sidewalks, boulevard restoration, landscaping area and new traffic signals at First and Fourth streets.

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Started in 2008, the roughly $1.6 million project — mostly covered by a federal grant — involved removing three bridges and filling in the underpass, which was created in 1937 to divert traffic under a railroad that has been gone for many years.

City officials put in a temporary surface to allow the fill to settle over winter.

Other projects

On Monday, Erichson gave various other project updates to the council, saying things are "going full blast."

  • Wildwood Trail, a new pedestrian/bicycle trail linking Todd Park to Wildwood Park through wooded areas, is coming along. Erichson said the city hopes to have the new trail paved and open by July 1.
  • A substantial amount of work has been done on the new soccer fields at Todd Park, he said, adding that they "look really good."
  • The city also is getting close to being done with its portion of Mower County’s justice-center project, which spans three cleared blocks downtown. The city and county had a developer’s agreement for it.
  • Road work has started around the U.S. Post Office area in southeastern Austin and is expected to last until Nov. 1, Erichson said. There is a lot of old, underground infrastructure that needs upgrading, he added.
  • Workers on Monday finished paving a stretch of Fourth Street Southeast that runs past Woodson Kindergarten Center, Erichson said. That completed the major road project that was begun last year.
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