Road opens in time for shoppers

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2002

No more "Road Closed" signs with sandbags, orange barrels, or median markers for motorists at one of Austin's busiest streets. Traffic was momentarily stopped at 18th Avenue NW, late Wednesday morning. County commissioners, the county coordinator, county engineer and contractor representatives gathered to cut a golden ribbon for the opening of the road and end of construction for the year.

"We would like to thank the community for their patience and understanding," said contractor Joel Born from Crane Creek Construction Inc., of Owatonna.

The construction will resume in the spring with a final layer of tar, sidewalks, medians and lighting.

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1st District County Commissioner Richard Cummings, who cut the ribbon, said it was a great feeling to finally have the road opened at this time of year.

"It is good for the motoring public," Cummings said.

The construction, which started this year in early August, cost about $1.84 million.

Austin Utilities also was involved in the project because of the electrical, gas and water connections running over and above the highway.

The avenue is now four lanes wide with turning lanes in some areas.

"The good thing is that they were right on target on getting it open for the big shopping day," Craig Oscarson, county coordinator, said.

Establishments in the area were happy to hear the construction has been completed.

"It's about time. It got kind of old, " said Randy Laskewitz, employee at Wagner's True Value Hardware.

Laskewitz said the first couple months of construction did not bother that building but the lasts months did hurt the business.

Brian Dolan, owner of Dolan's Landscape & Spas said they were happy the road was open.

"It's a great improvement; just in time for the Christmas season," he said.

Some of the businesses in the area include Holiday Inn of Austin, Perkins Family Restaurant, Days Inn, AmericInn, HyVee Food Store and Oak Park Mall. On the north side of the highway is Applebees restaurant, Big Kmart Store, Cash Wise Food and Drugs and Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, plus the Oaks Condominiums.

"It really looks nice and it will make it much more convenient for the customers," Jim Flury, manager at Cash Wise, said.

Roxana Orellana can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at