Forest Lake celebrates end of Broadway Avenue project

FOREST LAKE — What better way to celebrate the end of a three-year road and bridge project than a spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

That’s what the Forest Lake community did Tuesday to celebrate completion of the Broadway Avenue/County State Aid Road 2 road project.

Residents gathered at the American Legion Post on Broadway Avenue for a spaghetti dinner and silent auction fundraiser for the community’s Fourth of July celebration. Washington County Commissioner Dennis Hegberg, Forest Lake City Councilwoman Susan Young, Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Colleen Eddy and County Administrator Molly O’Rourke addressed the group, thanking community members and business leaders for their patience and support during the three-year project.

The project goal was improving safety and mobility in the city while allowing for streetscape enhancements inviting to residents, business owners, consumers, travelers and pedestrians. Speakers at the event noted that the project was successful because it involved a variety of individuals, businesses and public organizations who worked together to communicate and move the project forward during its planning and construction.

Broadway Avenue’s deteriorating condition and too many accidents along the road made the need for the project was apparent. The project rebuilt Broadway Avenue and its interchange at Interstate 35 and constructed a new I-35 overpass at County Road 83. A new First Avenue “backage road” provides access to businesses to the north of Broadway.

Safety and accessibility for pedestrians and other trail users — runners, bikers, in-line skaters, horseback riders, and snowmobilers — was enhanced with two bridges on Hardwood Creek Trail, one over Broadway and one over County Road 83. Both allow trail users to cross Broadway and County Road 83 without encountering vehicle traffic.

A roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Highway 61 and Broadway Avenue also relieves congestion for traffic traveling through Forest Lake.

The electric, gas, and cable utilities that ran along Broadway Avenue above ground were buried along the roadway, contributing greatly to the streetscape plan on the corridor.

The partnership of each level of government, as well as contractors and consultants, the Forest Lake business community and the residents of Forest Lake was essential to the success of the project, event speakers. The county implemented a pilot communication program during the project, using several mean of communication to ensure those most affected by the project always knew the progress of the work and what to expect with each step of the construction.