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218 project in BP delayed until 2027

hwy 218, road construction, blooming prairie
By
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

The reconstruction of U.S. Highway 218 through Blooming Prairie has been pushed back another two years.

The project that was supposed to begin this year is now tentatively planned for 2027.

The first delay came when MnDOT needed to purchase a right-of-way from a private property along the route.

The property, though, had a high risk of environmental contamination and required an environmental review in order to proceed. The review added about a year to the schedule to allow for an investigation of contaminated soil and/or groundwater, and to determine best management practices for construction.

There was no way to complete the project without the property at issue, and the project was delayed from 2024 to 2025.

The contamination investigation revealed more bad news: Contamination of soils and groundwater had migrated into the Hwy. 218 corridor.

“It’s the responsibility of MnDOT, the city, and the utilities to remove and dispose of any contaminated soils and groundwater they encounter as part of the project,” said Brett Grabau, city engineer – and it has to be paid for before the work starts.

The city was prepared to cover its share of the original reconstruction project, about $1.4 million.

The environmental issues, however, are an unexpected – and unbudgeted – expense.

In addition to remediating and containing the contamination, the city must now use ductile iron pipes instead of standard PVC piping, and more enforced seals at the joints. Those things will double – if not triple – the cost of the entire project, said Melanie Aeschliman, city administrator.

The most feasible way forward, she said, was to ask for state funding at the 2024 legislative session.

It didn’t work; the Minnesota Legislature adjourned last month without passing a bonding bill that had the essential funding.

MnDOT and Blooming Prairie will continue to partner together, said Cindy Morgan, public engagement coordinator for MnDOT.

“We look forward to a successful project once construction begins,” she said.

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