Highway 371 Construction Looks To Be Complete By October
Orange barrels and construction crews have been a common sight for motorists traveling on the nine-mile stretch of Highway 371 between Pequot Lakes and Nisswa. One phase of the project in Pequot Lakes has been completed and is currently in use.
“We went from a two-lane to a four-lane highway with the realignment around Pequot [Lakes], so that has a new interchange at County Road 11. There is much safer access in and out of downtown Pequot. We should see much safer conditions for traveling public. No head to head traffic on the highway anymore in this stretch,” said 371 Project Manager Tony Hughes.
For now, both directions of traffic are traveling on what will soon become the two northbound lanes.
MnDOT is hoping to give travelers a new experience starting in late September by opening one lane heading south bound and then having all four lanes open by early October.
“There was two main drivers for the project one was in ingestion and that leads to safety issues on the highway. But safety was the main driving factor in conversion to the four lane,” Hughes said.
This project was much larger than normal for the area, so the team took a different approach in the planning process.
“It was interesting for this project was actually a design-build project so it is not our normal process, so the department hired a main contractor and they had a designer actually designing the road as they built it. Normally, we know what it is finally going to look like when we start, but here it was kind of designed as they went,” said Hughes.
At this stage, the project is just over 90 percent complete.
“It’s gone extremely well with the contractor and working with them on the project. Obviously, there are traffic impacts with the staging and doing the project under traffic as we have been. It has been relatively safe; there have been some accidents, which happen but for the most part, it’s been safe and a good project to work on,” Hughes said.
As more lanes open, MnDOT wants to remind drivers that the crews will still be out cleaning up.