CANNON FALLS, Minn. (KTTC) -- Construction on a new interchange is about to get underway at a dangerous intersection that has taken lives of more than a dozen people over the past decade. The interchange is going in at Highway 52 and Goodhue County Road 9.
Although construction may cause headaches for drivers over the next 6 months, in the long term the project's goal is to save lives.
"Over the course of about 14 years there have been 13 fatal or serious crashes," says MnDOT representative, Mike Dougherty. "A total of 96 crashes overall."
It's a statistic that has Cannon Falls residents eager for change. Community members have been advocating for a sweeping construction project to the intersection for the past several years.
"There's been a lot of people that have been hurt or lost their lives, but hopefully this is showing it's not in vain and it will save a lot more lives going forward," says Bjorn Olson, who lives on County Road 9 where the construction will be taking place.
"This intersection will allow an overpass, so that people who want to get across [County Road] 9 can get across 9. And if they want to access [Highway] 52, then they will have sufficient time to accelerate," says Kristian Botte of Mathiowetz Construction, the contractor for the project.
The state-funded, $6.72 million endeavor will be moving fast, but it comes with some headaches.
"It will just be at a slower pace. It will be construction zone pace," says Dougherty. "It's a short distance, but you know, people should plan ahead maybe five to ten minutes."
The slower pace will come from trimming Highway 52 down to one-lane in both directions and the detouring of County Road 9.
"We're one of the sort of secondary detours, but there's at least one of them that would probably be practical to the north of us that may be closed," says Al Clark, a resident on one of the detour routes. "I would like to see that remain open during the construction period."
"Merging at 20 miles per hour from a right lane shoulder, across two lanes of traffic into the left hand shoulder twice to get from point A to point B it's going to be very treacherous," Olson says.
Drivers will have to use alternative routes until the project wraps up in November.
Both MnDOT and hired contractor Mathiowetz Construction are encouraging residents to communicate with them throughout the project.
Construction was planned to start Tuesday, however that has been pushed back a couple of weeks due to frozen ground.
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