A construction project that has diverted drivers from their usual route through Baxter and forced them to rethink how to reach destinations, is expected to be completed soon and open as early as this weekend.
Mayor Darrel Olson said he received calls from people asking why College Road was closed when Isle Drive was passable.
Trevor Walter, director of public works, said earlier this month at a city council meeting that the contract was originally made to close College Road due to the digging of the storm sewer pipe.
“So we had to close the road for a while anyway, so we decided to close the road for the entire construction period,” Walter told the council. “What we were hoping for – we can’t prove it exactly – but that should bring the cost down.”
By keeping the road closed during construction, Walter said savings were made by not having to put in place temporary traffic controls. He said another difference came from the four lanes of traffic rather than the two on Isle Drive. To avoid making temporary scratches, Walter said they left it closed.
College Road crosses Baxter. Part of the main east / west corridor has been closed for construction since early July. Contribution / Google Maps
“It costs more to build under traffic,” Walter said.
The closure of Isle Drive would have posed additional problems maintaining business access while the only business affected on College Road, the College Square convenience store and gas station, had access from Highland Scenic Drive, Walter said.
Walter noted that the College Road construction project is behind schedule, with initial hopes of opening it for Labor Day weekend and the start of school. Along with its College Drive counterpart in Brainerd, College Road is an important east / west corridor through the two cities and provides another link to Highway 371.
Walter said the College Road project is expected to be completed on Friday, September 17, hoping to strike the road on Saturday and then open the road to traffic. Delays in building materials helped push back the opening date. Isle Drive was done first and is now open to traffic.
College Road was closed for about nine weeks and construction began after July 4.