FAIRMONT - The smell of pine was in the air Tuesday at Gomsrud Park as the fresh-cut trees were fed into a chipper, clearing way for a new road and bridge to cross the channel connecting Hall and Budd lakes in Fairmont.
Construction began this week on the project, and workers lost no time demolishing a home and numerous trees that stood in the way.
When the project is completed in early July, the area will have a brand new look. The channel connecting Hall and Budd lakes will be wider, allowing two boats to pass, and the new bridge and Lair Road will be about 75 feet to the north, connecting in a T with Shoreacres Drive. The bridge will be similar in design to the Lake Avenue bridge, with an underpass for safe pedestrian crossing.
BIG?CHANGE?— Stumps line Lair Road at Gomsrud Park in Fairmont, where workers were busy chipping trees on Tuesday. The area is being cleared to make way for a newly aligned road and bridge.
The project required the removal of about 17 trees from the park, and a few on the west side of the channel, according to city engineer Troy Nemmers.
"We're working on landscape ideas," he said. "We will be replacing several of the trees."
The channel will be closed to boats starting next week, and Nemmers hopes to reopen the passage by the 2013 fishing opener.
The road itself will remain open until this March or April, reopening in July. While it is closed, traffic traveling to either of the two businesses located in the heart of the construction will be redirected to Shoreacres Drive.
Chris Carstensen predicts the project will not have a negative impact on his business, Carstensen Cabinetry.
"I'm a business that people search me out," he said. "I'm not a walk by, 'Hey, that hamburger smells good, let's stop for lunch,' kind of place."
The house that was demolished to make room for the relocated road is directly south of Carstensen's operations. The close proximity of the construction will be "a little inconvenient," he admitted.
"I'm looking forward to when it's done. It's going to be a nice addition. What I've been telling people is the bridge is moving, but I'm not," he said.
Dan and Monica Danks own The Channel Inn, at the intersection of Lair Road and Shoreacres. Among the regular lunch hour patrons on Tuesday were some new faces - construction workers from next door who were busy tearing out the bar and restaurant's parking lot.
Dan Danks has looked over the city's blueprints, and he believes the finished product will look nice, but he does have some reservations.
"I'm guessing it's going to be a little slower with the inconvenience of the parking," he said.
He also predicts "there will be a little struggle" when Lair Road closes this spring.
"The biggest question my help gets asked is if we're open, and we are open the same hours," he said.