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Irvine Avenue to close; Post Office will remain accessible

Irvine Avenue Northwest will be closed from Third Street to 15th Street beginning at 6 a.m. Monday.

The closure is due to the reconstruction of Irvine Avenue.

The closure will include the portion of Irvine in the first phase of construction, from Third to 15th streets.

Irvine Avenue from 13th Street to Paul Bunyan Drive/Highway 197 will be closed once the first phase of work is complete.

The project will include removal and replacement of aggregate base and bituminous paving, existing water main lines and water services, sanitary and sewer main lines, and curb, gutter and sidewalks. Signal lights also will be updated.

"I know it will be an inconvenience, but when it is all done, I think (residents) will really like the finished product," said Todd Djonne, an engineering technician with the city.

The official detour route will be Third Street, Mississippi Avenue, 15th Street and Park Avenue.

But the city also expects traffic to flow to Bemidji Avenue/Highway 197 while Irvine Avenue is closed.

Additional three- and four-way stop signs will be installed along the official detour route. Street parking along the detour route will not be allowed.

Third and 15th streets will remain open throughout construction to allow access in the area.

While the first phase will include a road closure along Irvine Avenue from Third to 15th streets, a smaller section from Third to Sixth streets will be complete within 30 days.

Once that section is done, traffic will have access along Irvine between Third and Fifth streets.

That section of roadway was deemed to be particularly important because of the location of the Bemidji Post Office, Bemidji Woolen Mills and other local businesses.

Access to the Post Office will continue throughout construction via temporary entrance and exit points off Fifth Street and Fourth Street. The drive-through drop-off boxes along Fourth Street also will remain accessible.

All work will be complete by Oct. 30.

Second phase

The second phase of the project will be initiated once the first phase is complete.

Then, Irvine Avenue will be closed from 13th Street to Paul Bunyan Drive/Highway 197.

The detour route will remain similar: Mississippi Avenue, Eighth Street and Park Avenue.

About the project

The Irvine Avenue project is being funded in part through federal stimulus dollars.

The total cost will be $3.2 million, of which $1.6 million will be covered by federal stimulus funds. Other funding sources include municipal state aid funds, sanitary sewer funds and water utility funds.

"Originally, it was just going to be a mill and overlay project, but as we got more into it, we decided to upgrade the utilities," Djonne said.

Several residents along Irvine last winter had frozen water lines.

The utility upgrades planned in the project will rectify those problems, Djonne said, saying that some lines were buried just 7 feet deep while the city will require a minimum of 9 feet and some added insulation.

Northdale Construction, out of Rogers, Minn., received the bid for the work. It also is the same company now working on the 2009 Street Renewal Project in Nymore, which is running 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.