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Heading north on Highway 52? Don't let construction spoil your trip

Commuters traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 52 from Rochester this summer have dealt with traffic delays due to construction. With construction not letting up anytime soon, here is what commuters can expect for the remainder of the year.

Highway 52 Construction
Traffic is down to one lane in both directions on U.S. Highway 52 as crews work on a bridge south of Zumbrota on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ZUMBROTA — Commuters and casual drivers heading from Southeast Minnesota to the Twin Cities who rely on U.S. Highway 52 will see traffic backups into the fall.

That means anyone heading to a Twins game, taking a student to the U of M, or heading to the Minnesota State Fair will need to be patient and add extra travel time or take an alternate route.

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Mike Dougherty, communications director for Minnesota Department of Transportation District 6, said, “North of Zumbrota is where we've finished half of the interchange at Hader, which is (Minnesota) Highway 57 and Goodhue County Road 8. They finished the bridge that now goes over the interchange on the northbound side. The construction crews will now move over to the southbound lanes for bridge construction, and the plan is to have that completed in late fall.”

With single-lane traffic still expected for at least three more months on Highway 52 between Zumbrota and Cannon Falls. Rochester residents will continue to find ways to adapt to single lane closures for their remaining summer and business travel to and from the Twin Cities.

Cullen Kittams, an IT worker based in Rochester who is from a suburb south of the Twin Cities, said the construction this year has impacted his commutes to and from the Twin Cities.


“I travel up to the Cities two to three times a month and it doesn’t make me less likely to do the drive," Kittams said. "Even as the state fair approaches and there’s more traffic, it just adds a few minutes to my commute.”

Currently, the construction on Highway 52 significantly slows traffic from Zumbrota to the Cities during even moderately busy times of day.

Dougherty recommended that anyone who has concerns about construction on Highway 52 keep their eyes on MNDOT’s live traffic website, 511 .

Highway 52 Construction
Traffic is down to one lane in both directions on U.S. Highway 52 as crews work on a bridge south of Zumbrota on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“There, you can look at the current traffic all across the state; lane closures, or if there is a detour," Dougherty said. "The other thing is if you pick a time of day, or when you travel, that can sometimes help people avoid some of the traffic backups. I don't think people really need to pick an alternate route to get around 52 construction in the coming weeks.”

Construction on Highway 52 is not going to stop at the end of 2022. There are other projects planned in continuation with the current construction on the highway.

Beginning in 2023, a study will be conducted by MNDOT to examine the stretch of Highway 52 between Zumbrota and Hader to “consider the benefits and impacts of proposed transportation system improvements to the environment, communities and economy in the Hwy 52 corridor.”

The current construction on Highway 52 between Zumbrota and Cannon Falls is anticipated to conclude in November according to Doughtery.

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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