By Jim Tate
MARSHALL — Mayor Bob Byrnes calls the upcoming reconstruction of Highway 19 through Marshall “a generational project.”
And on Monday, an important supporter of the project, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, was on hand to learn from city and MnDOT officials the full scope of the project.
Klobuchar was instrumental in securing a $15.4 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) federal grant, which will fund more than half of the project’s estimated $29.2 million cost. The rest will come from other federal, state and local dollars, said Jesse Vlaminck, MnDOT project manager.
The two-year, 1.8-mile project will begin in 2025, and run through Marshall, from Marlene Street to Bruce Street, along Highway 19 (East College Drive).
The project will include pavement and sidewalk reconstruction or rehabilitation, bicycle lane striping, bicycle and pedestrian safety enhancements, a single lane roundabout, intersection signage and signal control upgrades, turning lanes, stormwater infrastructure replacement, landscaping, street lighting, ADA upgrades, and an electric vehicle charger.
The federal grant only covers stormwater infrastructure replacement, said Director of Public Works Jason Anderson. Other infrastructure improvements will include water main and sanitary sewer replacement, and those funds will comely from local utility funds, he said.
“Investments in our infrastructure serve as down payments on then long-term economic well-being of our state,” said Klobuchar. “This federal funding will help make our roads safer and more accessible and allow Minnesotans to more easily reach work, school and other destinations in Marshall.”
Vlaminck said the project is being split into two phases, in consideration of “access to businesses (along the route).” He said the first phase will run from Marlene Street to the East College Drive-Main Street intersection. Phase two will run from there to Bruce Street
The single-lane roundabout will be constructed near the Armory, or, the “chicken foot,” as project personnel call the odd intersection of College Drive, South 2nd Street and Country Club Drive.
Klobuchar, along with city and MnDOT officials, met at Liberty Park and took a walking tour up to Highway 19, and around the back of the bandshell, stopping several times to discuss the project. Klobuchar also asked about other concerns in the city and area, and learned more about the city’s dispute of the latest census numbers for Marshall, the need for more four-lane miles along Highway 23, and a shrinking regional workforce.
“No great nation has ever expanded with a shrinking workforce,” she said.
“It’s a very expensive project,” said Byrnes.
Besides tearing out the old road, there’s a lot of infrastructure work to be done.
“Highway 19 went through town, before the bypass, and not only will there be infrastructure improvements, there will be soil concerns, as there are three bridges where the road crosses the (Redwood) River. That’s old river bed soil, and that has to be taken into consideration. And this goes back to the ’40s, so you never can be sure what’s down there,” he said.
The new road’s surface will be concrete, said Vlaminck.