MARSHALL - Construction work on Minnesota Highway 68 between Marshall and Porter is making progress, representatives of the Minnesota Department of Transportation said Thursday. If conditions stay favorable, the work could be finished by the end of May.
MnDOT engineers and contractors involved with a resurfacing project on Highway 68 gave updates on the project at a public meeting Thursday night. Project engineer Nick Klisch said another public meeting will likely be held next week.
The project includes a new surface on the highway, with new striping and rumble strips, as well as the installation of handicapped-accessible sidewalks in Ghent, Taunton and Porter. Sidewalk, curb and gutter work was finished first before a new roadway could be put down.
Resurfacing work started this week, and construction is ahead of schedule overall, said construction inspector Scott Conner. The original start date for the project was May 14, Conner said. With clear weather conditions this month, work crews have been able to make good progress. Klisch said motorists also seem to have had adequate time to prepare for the construction, which is using lane restrictions instead of a detour.
Conner and Rick Gertken of Central Specialties, Inc., the road contractor doing the resurfacing work, said so far there haven't been any surprises concerning the highway's condition.
"It isn't really crumbling underneath," Conner said. However, it's important the highway isn't allowed to deteriorate to that point in the first place, he said.
MnDOT representatives estimated it has been about 20 years since the last major resurfacing project on Highway 68.
Klisch said MnDOT doesn't have any plans to widen the highway in the immediate future, something that has been a concern for area residents. However, he said there are plans to five to 10 years from now to replace bridges and culverts on Highway 68. That work would be "a good starting point" toward widening the highway, he said.