Flashing red lights added to Hwy. 4 project in Leavenworth

Detour begins April 22 south of Sleepy Eye

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Pam Penkert, left, of New Ulm, and Deb Buley of Mankato listen to Ulland Brothers Project Manager Chris Harber at a Highway 4 improvement project open house Wednesday at the Sleepy Eye Community Center.

SLEEPY EYE – A Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) open house for a 25-mile Highway 4 improvement project from Sleepy Eye to St. James Wednesday featured a request for flashing red lights at an all-way stop in Leavenworth.

The $18.8 million project with a 10-ton highway, bridge, and drainage improvements is scheduled to begin Monday, April 22 continue into October.

Leavenworth resident Alan Zuhlsdorf said he lived on the (all-way stop) corner of County Roads 8 and 24.

“Are they going to put up more signs or something flashing? There are people going through (the intersection) without even stopping,” Zuhlsdorf said.

“We’re aware of that. We’ve decided we’re going to put up flashing stop signs to help get people’s attention,” said Ulland Brothers Inc. Project Manager Chris Harder.

Zuhlsdorf said there are many baseball games in Leavenworth and people park on the road.

“There isn’t much room on the road between vehicles coming through on the road, people and parked vehicles,” he added.

Pam Penkert of New Ulm and Deb Buley of Mankato attended the open house.

“We travel on the road quite a bit. Highway 4 needs work. It’ll be a good project,” Penkert said.

“Highway 4 needs repair. It’s much needed,” said Buley.

Bridge replacement over the Cottonwood River south of Sleepy Eye creates a detour on U.S. Highway 14 west of Sleepy Eye to Brown County Road 8 south to CR 24, set to go in effect April 22.

A detour for Highway 4 pavement and culvert work follows Highway 14 west of Sleepy Eye to CR 8, south to Watonwan CR 5 and east on TH 30.

Three bridges will be replaced. Improvements will allow Highway 4 from St. James and Sleepy Eye to become a 10-ton route.

MnDOT District 7 Project Manager Glen Coudron said the Butterfield Creek bridge north of St. James will be replaced with a triple box culvert that will be longer and not require guard rail.

The Big Cottonwood River bridge near a canoe landing several miles south of Sleepy Eye will be replaced with a slightly wider 40-foot bridge.

The Judicial Ditch 30 box culvert just south of Sleepy Eye will be replaced with a double box culvert that will be lengthened and no longer need guard rail.

Harber said work will be done in three phases. The first phase including Highway 14, bridge and box culvert replacement is from Sleepy Eye to Brown CR 24. It is forecast to last from April 22 to early October.

“The double box culvert work just south of Sleepy Eye is scheduled to be done in early May. Once it is done, there will be gravel in the area so local traffic in that area can get through,” Harber said.

Phase 2 includes the triple box culvert near St. James set to begin in late June or early July and last a couple weeks. The detour is on TH 30 and Watonwan CR 32 and 3.

Phase 3 is set for a 60 calendar day closure of most of TH 4 paving, drainage pipe, culverts and rumble strips.

“There will be some hard closures with that. If you see barricades, please don’t try to go around them. That’s more for your safety than anything,” Harber said.

“For the most part, Highway 4 intersection crossings will be open unless a culvert is being replaced or intersection paving is happening,” he added.

Construction is expected to continue until early October, weather permitting. Traffic will be detoured during construction. Visit the project website for detour information.

Construction was delayed from 2023 to 2024 as MnDOT worked closely with Brown and Watonwan counties to determine if Hwy. could be a 10-ton road instead of seven tons.

Project work includes resurfacing the road, replacing a Big Cottonwood River span bridge and box culvert (bridge) south of Sleepy Eye, repairing drainage pipes and culverts and adding rumble strips and guard rail updates.

Benefits of the project are a smoother road, improved drainage and increased safety.

A St. James open house on the project will be held 4-6 p.m. Monday, April 15 at the Watonwan County Library, 125 Fifth Street S.

Staff from MnDOT and the contractor will be available to provide more information and answer questions. There is no formal presentation planned, and attendees are welcome to arrive anytime.

Visit the Hwy. 4 St. James to Sleepy Eye project website for more information and to sign up for email updates.

Information will be shared on the MnDOT South Central Facebook group and on X @mndotscentral.

For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.

MnDOT invites and encourages participation by all. If needed an ASL, foreign language interpreter, or other reasonable accommodation, or need documents in an alternative format (such as braille or large print), please email your request to Janet Miller at adarequest.dot@state.mn.us or call 651-366-4720.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today