For the past nine months, Sleepy Eye residents have seen construction equipment busy in what appears to be a field filled with soybeans on the southeastern part of Highway 14.
The underground work is what residents began to see taking shape last fall. Once construction began this spring, residents could see the construction of a through road being built.
The road expanded Maple Street through the Ross Lake bed and the entry to the Snow property was aligned with 12th Avenue SE, according to Public Works Director Bob Elston.
Eventually, Elston said, 12th Avenue will extend across the railroad tracks to connect with St. Mary’s Street. However, plans for that are currently not being pursued aggressively, he added.
Currently, all of the underground utilities have been installed and the road, which will remain gravel, according to Elston, is nearly complete.
Elston added that he believes this will promote traffic flow as residents from the south end of Sleepy Eye will be able to use the newly constructed Maple Street to Highway 14. Eventually, when 12th Avenue is extended, he said, it will allow residents on the north end of town another outlet to Highway 14, making the parcel of land a prime traffic area for businesses interested in a lot.
City Manager Mark Kober added that while nothing is set in stone, the city has received approval from the state to cross the railroad tracks with 12th Avenue.
“Our plan would be to alleviate Third Street traffic and in doing so it would really bring a lot of focus to Highway 14 from both the north and the south,” Kober said.
Kober added that the city hopes this project will make an ideal location for a business to anchor the southeast corner of Sleepy Eye and help the city expand.
The 285 acre plot of land, nicknamed the Snow Property, became available to the City of Sleepy Eye in 2007. What the city is interested in doing with the land is bringing in a business that could prosper on the stretch of Highway 14.
Currently, no businesses have expressed serious interest in developing, but several businesses have inquired about lots, Elston added.
Kober went on to say that when the Snow family owned the land, there was talk of development along that stretch of highway, but the land wasn’t available.
“The land has marvelous potential for the right business to expand and take advantage of all the traffic on Highway 14,” Kober said. “We’ve only just begun. This is a long-range project and we realize that.”