MAKEOVER Lane restrictions placed on two miles of U.S. 52

From staff reports

A two-mile length of U.S. 52 in southwest Rochester will be restricted to one lane each direction for at least the next five weeks, the contractor performing the highway project reports.

The lane closures take effect today between 16th Street Southwest and U.S. 63. Southbound traffic will be shifted to the northbound side of the highway. The lane shift will be in effect on weekdays only; on weekends, traffic will be returned to its usual sides of the highway median.

The shift is being done for safety reasons, to accommodate rock removal -- including blasting -- along the west side of the highway. The rock is being moved to the median for use as fill under what is the part of the future highway roadbed.

The contractor, Zumbro River Constructors, is considering whether to extend the lane closure and lane shift through the rest of the 2003 construction season. The advantage of doing so, the contractor said, is that the construction schedule for that stretch of highway will be shortened from three years to two years.


However, ongoing lane closures are contrary to a claim made by the contractor prior to beginning the four-year, $232 million highway project, that four traffic lanes would be kept open on U.S. 52 during daytime hours for the duration of the project.

The contractor has closed lanes on the highway several times this year to accommodate blasting. The most recent closure, July 1-3, the contractor says, was a test to determine the likely effects of an ongoing closure.

The contractor determined traffic experienced only minor delays during the test. It takes an estimated four to five minutes for a car to pass through the two-mile zone with lane restrictions, according to the contractor.

A 45-mph speed limit will be posted in the area.

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