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New roundabout work winds down in Cottage Grove

The new roundabout at Keats Avenue and 70th Street in Cottage Grove opened earlier this month. Crews will do minor work yet this fall and then complete the project in the spring. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

The biggest road construction project in Cottage Grove this year is winding down as drivers begin winding around the city’s newest roundabout.

Washington County is wrapping up work for the season on County Highways 19, 20 and 22 — also known as Keats Avenue, Military Road and 70th Street. With the exception of a one-day closure at Keats Avenue and 70th Street on Monday, Nov. 25, the improved roadways and intersection have reopened to traffic.

“It was very close to being on schedule,” said Cory Slagle, Washington County’s engineering and construction manager, and “it’s on budget.”

The project that spanned most of this construction season straightened out 70th Street, replacing a zigzag-like set of two intersections at Keats Avenue with a traditional approach from the east and west. It also realigned the Keats Avenue-Military Road intersection, eliminating a left turn from Military onto Keats.

The most noticeable change is a new one-lane roundabout at Keats Avenue and 70th Street.

Project engineer Jason Pommier said some general cleanup work, grading and grass seeding will continue yet this fall. In spring 2014, crews will be back to make a new cul-de-sac at the end of the former 70th Street on the east side of Keats Avenue. There is some minor curb and gutter work to be done as well. New biking and walking trails near the intersection also will be finished.

“It’s going to be all your minor touch up (work),” Pommier said.

The roundabout opened earlier this month, but the county closed during the day on Monday, Nov. 25, to pour a new, sloping curb on the inside edge of the roundabout lane. It was a change from the original design and done to make it easier for long trucks to safely navigate the roundabout, Slagle said.

The project required a roughly three-month closure of the intersection, inconveniencing commuters and posing a challenge to businesses in the Almar Village commercial development at the intersection. The city of Cottage Grove promoted the businesses, including through video ads; extra signage was added to help customers navigate the road work; and store signage restrictions were eased during the road closures.

Washington County project communications coordinator Mindy Leadholm said the county provided routine updates to the businesses throughout the summer and fall.

There were two projects in the area occurring simultaneously this year. Drivers see traffic changes as a result of the road work, but crews also worked underground.

A six-foot-wide concrete stormwater pipe was buried as far as 40 feet below the ground through the construction area. It was the first step in a multi-year South Washington Watershed District project designed to move overflowing stormwater from parts of Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Woodbury through Cottage Grove south to a drainage field near the Mississippi River.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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