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Barricades are blocking the north end of Broadway as the reconstruction project started this week. The project will be done in phases throughout the summer. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)

Mayor's Minute: Thoughts from Sara Carlson, Alexandria Mayor The buzz on Broadway

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What a fun Monday morning we had this past week. Despite the damp and wet weather, the groundbreaking for the downtown project took place with an enthusiastic crowd assembled to get the project under way.

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So many people have worked tirelessly to see this project come to fruition and lots of them attended the groundbreaking. Along with Jody Martinson from MnDot and Tim Schoonhoven, our city engineer, I was honored to ride the ALP boom truck up above the crowd for the kick off and then up higher to see all of Broadway.

It made me very proud to be mayor of Alexandria. What a great city we have! Oh, and was I scared up that high you ask? No, it was breathtaking. I loved it; a little damp, but beautiful!

By 9 a.m. when the groundbreaking took place, the road work had begun. The large white machine working in the middle of the street was a milling machine. It shaved off about 8 inches of asphalt, which was loaded into trucks and hauled off site. The milling of the existing asphalt was completed by the end of the day Tuesday.

The contractor also removed the old curb and gutter along the east and west side of Broadway. The existing traffic signal at Fifth Avenue was removed along with about half of the street lights. An orange barrier fence is being installed at the edge of the remaining sidewalk in front of the stores to separate pedestrians from the construction activities.

Almost all of the material being removed from Broadway will be recycled and used in other ways on this and other construction projects.

In the next few days, the contractor will start at the north end of the project with the removal of the existing steam lines and the installation of the new waterline.

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I talked with Kathleen Pohlig, owner of Cherry Street Books, this week and she said she has been looking forward to this project for years.

“We get lots of compliments on our downtown. We will make a good impression on people from here and out of town that will want to come back again. In the short term, it may hurt, but in the long term, it will be well worth it! It is an investment in the vibrancy of our community and we will all be proud of it when it is done!”

She has a sign on her board in Cherry Street Books that says: “Celebrate the transformation of our Downtown!” I think that says it all!

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Don’t forget that all the downtown stores are open for business throughout the entire project. Please keep coming downtown and visiting your favorite merchants. Feel free to contact me at: mayorcarlson@gmail.com or write to City Hall at 704 Broadway; or to the Echo Press at PO Box 549, Alexandria MN 56308.

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