NEW ULM - A cold northwest wind blew in the face of city officials Friday morning, but it couldn't damped their enthusiasm about the fact the new, single-lane roundabout with a truck apron opened around one p.m. on U.S. Highway 14 West.
"Six years ago, Menard's came here and said they wanted to build a store here," said New Ulm City Engineer Steve Koehler. "I've got to thank them now. They paid ($1.25 million) for the whole thing (roundabout)."
Koehler thanked Mathiowetz Construction of Leavenworth plus other contractors and sub-contractors, most of which came from a 40-mile radius around New Ulm.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
The roundabout on Highway 14 west of New Ulm opened to traffic at about 1p.m. Friday afternoon.
Assistant City Engineer Joe Stadheim said the roundabout and highway re-opening was pushed back nearly two months because of the delayed shipment of overhead light fixtures above and on either side of the roundabout.
"It's big enough for Mathiowetz Construction low-boy truck trailers," Stadheim said.
The event that meant the end of a detour of Brown County Highway 12 and 29 around the project put a smile on the face of Kohls-Weelborg Chevrolet Sales Representative Dave Beranek.
"We're glad to have the road open. It'll help with traffic," Beranek said. "Menards' opening will be a plus for us. It's a positive thing."
Construction of the roundabout and a new Menard's entrance on Highway 14 began July 16. The project was originally expected to be complete in mid-August.
In recent years, the Minnesota Highway Department (MnDOT) has been installing roundabouts at new or remodeled intersections to lower the incidence of crashes.
Roundabouts are able to handle high levels of traffic with less delay than most stop signs or signals. Roundabout curves slow traffic so entering and exiting is easier and more efficient without traffic signals, according to MnDOT.
Yield signs caution drivers to slow and give right-of-way to vehicles already in the roundabout. If there is no roundabout traffic, vehicles may proceed without yielding.
Truck aprons - raised concrete sections around a central island - act as an extra lane for large vehicles. The rear wheels of an oversize vehicle can ride on the concrete so trucks can easily complete the turn.
Key things to remember when driving in roundabouts, according to MnDOT are:
Yield to drivers already in the roundabout.
Stay in your lane.
Do not stop in the roundabout.
Avoid driving next to over-size vehicles.
For more information including driving tips and videos, visit www.dot.mn.state.mn.us/roundabouts/
For statewide travel information, visit www.511mn.org
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.