Construction clogs some streets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

Orange signs are becoming a regular sight in Albert Lea.

Construction projects are going on all over town, and for some, that means traffic headaches.

&uot;If they would go slow it would be one thing,&uot; said Lesa Hutchinson, store manager at the Texaco Food Mart at the junction of Bridge Avenue and Fountain Street, describing the cars that have been going through her parking lot as a result of the projects. &uot;But they treat it like it’s a city road.&uot;

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She said the gas station’s parking lot has become more dangerous since the start of the road construction project replacing the sewer lines at Bridge and Fountain. Some people who want to bypass the project drive through the store’s lot. She said many drive through without watching for pedestrians who are walking in to pay or cars backing out.

She has called the police a handful of times, and has gotten the construction company to agree to post &uot;no through traffic&uot; signs.

&uot;You know it’s bad when school buses are driving through,&uot; she said, saying she had seen three drive through Wednesday morning. &uot;We just want our customers to be safe.&uot;

The construction project is one of three that are pushing more traffic to East Main Street, along with work at Bridge and Marshall, and along Front Street from Frank Avenue to Garfield Street.

Front Street is being raised and re-paved. City Engineer Dave Olson expects the project to be done by Oct. 31.

A spot at the intersection of Marshall and Bridge is having street repairs and sewers replaced, and the traffic light there has been flashing red for weeks as the city waits for a new part that is on back order. The road project should be done in the next few days.

Olson said the Bridge and Fountain project was not planned for this year, but was moved up to coincide with a construction project that St. Theodore’s Catholic Church is doing at the same time. The project should be done within the next 45 days, he said.

Along streets that run from Bridge to Main, cars have been noticeably lined up to turn onto either street, six or seven cars deep.

While a great amount of traffic is pouring onto Main Street, Olson said he doesn’t see much of a problem with it.

&uot;That street is made to be able to handle that kind of traffic,&uot; he said.

On Garfield Avenue, the entrance to the Blazing Star trail isn’t vehicle accessible because of the Front Street construction. People are parking nearly a block away to get to the trail.

Elizabeth Christian, of Albert Lea, said she has no problem with the added obstacles.

&uot;As long as I can still get here, it’s fine by me,&uot; she said.

(Contact Peter Cox at or 379-3439.)