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Albert Lea Hopes For Road Upgrade To Combat Flooding

July 10, 2018 11:28 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- After dealing with flooding along East Main Street for years, the city of Albert Lea is hoping a planned reconstruction of the highway will provide an opportunity to fix the water issues in the area.

Major floods have closed Main Street, which is also U.S. Highway 65, in 2011, 2014 and 2016, among other years. The 2016 flood kept the busy thoroughfare closed to traffic for nearly two weeks. In recent years, city manager Chad Adams said flash flooding has become more of a problem along Main Street in addition to more widespread, longer-term flooding.

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"In years past, that area hadn't been flooding, but we're seeing that more and more common with this area flooding in just those short bursts of rain which shuts down half the road," Adams said.

The road was scheduled for a mill and overlay in 2021, but  Adams said officials at multiple levels are looking into tackling the flooding issue with something more significant.

The city, Barr Engineering and MnDOT have been working on a flood survey which was supposed to have been presented at Monday's city council meeting but was delayed. Adams said the survey should be completed in the next few days, after which MnDOT will share their proposed fixes for the stretch.

The upgrade is needed, said Dan Dorman, who has owned Hanson Tire Service along East Main Street for 30 years, but he's concerned a reconstruction could hurt his business.

"We'd like to see it fixed, sure, that's great, but I don't want to lose any access either from Main Street," he said. "I want to make sure that whatever the fix is, the cure isn't worse than the disease."

Full details of the options have not been posted, but Adams said he's optimistic everyone involved will come together to solve the yearslong issue.

"We feel pretty comfortable that we'll have some options to work with MnDOT on to provide a long-term solution," he said.

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Dan Conradt

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