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Monthlong closure of Highway 61 between Lake City, Wabasha starts Monday

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A monthlong closure of a major highway in southeast Minnesota starts Monday, July 15.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said traffic along a stretch of U.S. Highway 61 between Lake City and Wabasha will be diverted to county roads as crews replace several culverts.

Much of Highway 61 along the Mississippi River in Minnesota is a four-lane highway, but the culverts are being installed along a two-lane section, where the roadway is hemmed in against the river bluffs. Mike Dougherty, the MnDOT District 6 director of public engagement and communications, said a detour is required because there isn't much leeway along that part of the highway.

"That's what makes any construction along the Mississippi River bluffs challenging," he said. "You've got the river, you've got railroad tracks, and then you've got the bluffs, and we're all kind of tucked in tight. So we do need to move people to the west."

The detour will utilize Wabasha county roads 4 and 10. There will be access to businesses and homes in Reads Landing from the south.

The closure is set to last through mid-August. 

Parts of the region have seen record rainfall this spring and early summer, during what is a prime time of year for road work.

"It's slowed things down; it hasn't put them too far behind," Dougherty said of construction crews. "They do build in some weather days, but I think when they look at that they don't ever envision some of the rainfall we've had."

Dougherty said major road projects usually have some work less-dependent on weather, so contractors can focus on that during rainy periods, and keep the overall project on track.

There is some good news for drivers regarding a nearby highway that has been closed for repaving. State Highway 60 between Zumbro Falls and Wabasha is temporarily reopening this week. Dougherty said the work is being paused to accommodate fans heading to the Pro Nationals event at Spring Creek Motocross Park near Millville.