CLEARWATER -- A three year construction project between Clearwater and Clear Lake has some business owners more concerned than others.

MnDOT is underway replacing the 57-year-old Highway 24 bridge with a new $18-million-dollar bridge next to it. J.P. Gillach is with MnDOT and says the new bridge will better suit traffic and pedestrians.

"It will have wider lanes, wider shoulders, and an area where pedestrians can cross safely with the increased traffic," says Gillach.

The project will take about two full construction seasons, which will help cut down on costs.

Rory Amundson owns The Kettle in Clearwater and says he has concerns about the projects timeline.

"It's definitely a concern we are trying to deal with, we hope to not see as big of a down tick as we expect to see," says Amundson.

However, on the other side of the bridge in Clear Lake, McDonald's Meats Owner Travis McDonald says he doesn't feel the construction will be an issue.

"We have a pretty loyal customer base, so we feel even with construction people will still shop with us," says McDonald.

Along with construction of the bridge just under a mile of new road will need to be built to line up the highway with the bridge.

Gillach says during the construction the old bridge will remain open to traffic, which give Amundson and McDonald a glimmer of hope for their businesses.

"We do have a huge loyal local base and we do have a huge base as far as people driving through so that will help with a lot of that," says Amundson.

"They've reassured us traffic will flow continuously through construction and once the new bridge is completed they will switch it over and everything will move smoothly," says McDonald.

The new bridge is expected to be open to traffic in the fall of 2017 and officially completed in the summer of 2018.


Work begins on replacing the old Highway 24 bridge. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)