BEMIDJI -- Signs of summer, or at least summer road construction, are popping up across the area, with many projects taking place in Bemidji, Blackduck and beyond.

Neighborhoods across Bemidji already have road construction underway, with a number of street improvement projects scheduled throughout the city this summer.

Many of the projects are part of the city's annual Street Renewal Program, where the Public Works Department selects several streets in need of reconstruction. The 2019 project, underway for about two weeks already, includes five stretches of road for the program:

  • Gemmell Avenue, from Paul Bunyan Drive to the end of the road at a cul-de-sac.
  • Eighth Street Northeast, from Bemidji Avenue to Lake Boulevard
  • Dewey Avenue, from Eighth Street to 10th Street.
  • McKinley Avenue, from Third Street to Fourth Street.
  • Pershing Avenue, from First Street East to Third Street.

Along with new pavement, many of these corridors will receive upgrades to sidewalks, gutters, curbs and water utilities. The work, expected to be finished in late September, is expected to cost $2.08 million when factoring construction, design and engineering.

According to Public Works Director Craig Gray, the city has a separate road project this year on 30th Street and Hannah Avenue. Gray said the city will repave 30th Street Northwest from Ridgeway Avenue to Hannah Avenue, and Hannah Avenue from 30th Street to Paul Bunyan Drive.

The project, expected to start after July 4, will also narrow 30th Street and add a trail on the road's north side. Gray said the cost is about $1 million, with $850,000 covered by federal dollars.

Back roads in Bemidji are also getting some work this year, thanks to the city's alley paving project. The city plans to pave alleys in the Nymore area, south of First Street East, west of Pershing Avenue Southeast and east of Paul Bunyan Drive for $107,200.

A smaller project starting in mid-July is also scheduled at the intersection of Fourth Street and America Avenue. The work to reconstruct all four quadrants of the intersection with new pedestrian ramps comes to $180,000.

Out in the county

Outside the city limits, Beltrami County is working on a project in Northern Township along Irvine Avenue, from Anne Street to Town Hall Road Northwest. On top of resurfacing the road, the project also includes a new roundabout for the ramp connecting Irvine Avenue and U.S. Highway 71.

"It's for those going northbound on Highway 71, where a driver is going to the off-ramp onto Irvine Avenue, that's where the roundabout will be," County Engineer Bruce Hasbargen said. "With the roundabout, MnDOT will be covering about two thirds of the cost. The roundabout comes to $1 million and MnDOT is covering about $600,000 of that."

When bid together with the resurfacing project, the total comes to $3 million. The detour for the Irvine Avenue project will include Lakewood Drive Northwest and Townhall Road.

The county also has a project scheduled in Blackduck to resurface Main Street from U.S. Highway 71 to Summit Avenue, coming to $200,000. The Irvine Avenue project is set to start Monday while the Blackduck work will begin in the coming weeks.

State work, too

The Minnesota Department of Transportation also has some work scheduled around the Blackduck area, such as a $1.9 million project to replace three culverts along State Highway 72 from September through October. Another project, now under construction, is work along U.S. Highway 71 from State Highway 72 to the Koochiching County line.

The latter project will resurface the highway, while also adding turn lanes, bypass lanes, and replace culverts. The Highway 71 project comes to $4.9 million and will be completed in July.

Closer to Bemidji are a pair of projects on U.S. Highway 2 and 71. Beginning June 3, MnDOT will extend turn lanes on Highway 2, along with adjusting and restriping turn lanes and replacing the traffic signal. The project, at the intersection of Adams Avenue and Moberg Drive, comes to $617,000 and will last through June. The project may cause short delays and lane closures.

South of Bemidji, MnDOT is starting a project June 3 on Highway 71 at the Kabekona River to replace a culvert. Because of the $388,000 project, drivers will be detoured onto Hubbard County Roads 36 and 16. The project will continue through June.

MnDOT is also partnering with the Red Lake Nation this summer for a $4.1 million project on State Highway 1. The project, going through Red Lake, includes new pavement for the highway, resurfacing of the multi-use trail, improvements for pedestrian ramps and upgrades to the curb, gutter and storm sewer.

The project, stretching from Highway 89 to West Street, is expected to continue through September.

"What's unique about the project is Red Lake Nation is playing a big part of it with designing the project and its construction," said TJ Melcher, MnDOT District 2 director of public engagement. "They'll be taking the lead, so we're working in partnership with them."