Roadwork continues near Dakota Middle School as school year looms

Alternative traffic plans are being made in case the road isn’t ready
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 5:54 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The 65th Street project in Rochester is well on its way, but some worry it won’t be finished in time to allow traffic to conveniently flow near the newest Rochester middle school.

“It will be good when it’s done,” said Ann Hamilton.

Hamilton operates a daycare out of her home, just a few houses down from the west side of 65th Street construction. She worries that if things don’t open up by the start of school, traffic could get tricky.

“It will make a lot of extra traffic because you have parents who need to drop off as well if that doesn’t get open. So, then you’ll have all that extra traffic. It will make it very interesting in the morning,” Hamilton said.

WATCH: Construction at Dakota Middle School through a web cam on site.

It’s something Rochester Assistant City Engineer Tyler Niemeyer is keeping a close eye on, too.

“It did get delayed a little bit,” he explained, citing supply chain issues and a rainy spring. Niemeyer guesses the project is a few weeks behind. The goal, he said, is to have gravel down by the start of school.

“We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but we’re hoping to have up to at least gravel, so all the vehicles can access the school,” Niemeyer said.

If that doesn’t happen, the back up plan is to have buses and parents come through the east and west sides, not through the middle portion located between the two school entrances. Niemeyer said the scope of the project isn’t small.

“This is a $16.4 million project. It’s almost as big as the Broadway reconstruction project that we’re finishing up this summer,” he said.

Most of the funding for the project comes from the state. Another piece of the project is a tunnel under 65th Street. Eventually, when it’s complete, it will work as a walkway to the middle school. Something Niemeyer said the Rochester Public Schools District has invested in, too.

“By the time the whole project is done, it’s going to look very different,” he added.

While it might be inconvenient now, Niemeyer said it needs to be done.

“The best answer I have is, construction needs to happen for Rochester to progress and continue down the path we’re on. Let’s just all work together to lessen the pain as much as we can,” he said.

KTTC reached out to Rochester Public Schools. The district said no final decision on bus routes have been made just yet. RPS said it’s taking things on a week by week basis and hopes to get more guidance and a better idea where the project stand after a meeting next week.

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