Sep. 1—NORTH MANKATO — A newly completed roundabout on Howard and Lor Ray drives should make for smoother traffic during peak school times, said the North Mankato public works director at the intersection Friday.
Luke Arnold joined other city, construction and Greater Mankato Growth representatives in reopening the intersection following about 2 1/2 months of work.
The roundabout replaced a four-way stop at the intersection, which Arnold said caused regular traffic backups.
"Especially before school the backups would come up all the way to the four-way stop and up the road," he said. "What we're hoping here is that it's going to actually smooth that flow through the intersection."
Dakota Meadows Middle School is just west of the intersection, about halfway between Lor Ray Drive to the east and Lookout Drive to the west. Additional backups occurred at the four-way stop when nearby Caswell sports complex had events, including the state softball tournament.
The area also has experienced growth over the years both in terms of residential neighborhoods and business development. Arnold's implement dealership, RDO construction equipment and other businesses are directly to the east of the intersection, while to the north sits residential areas.
North Mankato set Sept. 1 as the date for the intersection to reopen. The project stuck to the timeline — chosen in part so it would be open before the new school year started after Labor Day — and to its roughly $2.9 million estimated cost.
In April, The Free Press reported about $1.6 million would come from federal funding, $884,000 would come from state aid and $353,000 would come from the city.
Arnold credited site developer DMI, or Dirt Merchants Inc., for delivering the project on time and on budget. Much planning and collaboration with subcontractors made the timeline happen, said DMI owner Kevin Depuydt.
Residents, visitors and nearby businesses used detours while construction was in progress this summer. To get to Caswell, for instance, a westbound motorist on Highway 14 took the Lookout Drive exit before turning back east on Howard Drive.
The group gathered Friday at the intersection, thanking people for their patience and cutting a ribbon to mark construction completion before a couple of designated trucks drove through the roundabout.
Mayor Scott Carlson described the project as the latest transit upgrade bringing smoother intersections to the North Mankato-Mankato area.
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