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Corn Palace Festival running into road construction, as downtown Mitchell projects roughly 2 months out

While the two downtown area projects have closed a stretch of Main Street along Fifth Avenue where the carnival begins, city officials say the road construction projects are "vital and have to be done."

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The Fifth Avenue and Main Street intersection is tore up Tuesday afternoon, while crews work on the road construction project.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — As carnivalgoers flock to downtown Mitchell this week for the Corn Palace Festival , they will have to deal with ongoing Main Street road construction.

The congestion of road construction around the downtown area has come when Main Street sees an influx of foot and vehicle traffic for the carnival, but Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said the projects are “vital and have to get done.”

While the two downtown area projects entail improving a stretch of roads along Fifth and Ninth avenues, Schroeder said the infrastructure and underground utility work is perhaps the most critical elements of both projects.

“We had a water main break right before our Ninth Avenue project even started. That shows how much these need to be done. Everything we’re replacing is 4-inch cast iron water mains,” Schroeder said. “We have the streetscape plans, so it made sense to continue Ninth Avenue work from Sanborn Boulevard to Main Street. At Fifth, this will provide brand new utilities from west of Sanborn Boulevard all the way to Burr Street.”

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Scenes from the construction around Mitchell's Main Street on Monday, August 22, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

As for when the roads will reopen, Schroeder said the both projects are on schedule to be complete by mid-October. The Fifth Avenue and Main Street intersection will have a new look when the project wraps up. It will be the first intersection to welcome the streetscape, which will look similar to the bump out landscape on the corner of the Sixth Avenue and Main Street corners across from the Corn Palace,

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Overhauling Mitchell’s aging infrastructure has been a focus among city leaders. According to a recent evaluation of the city’s sewer infrastructure, SPN and Associates engineers estimated that roughly $122 million worth of infrastructure improvements are needed in the city, including a large portion of sewer mains.

While the city of Mitchell’s sewer system is in need of improvements, it is not projected to be a cheap venture.

Although city leaders are making progress on improving infrastructure and roads, some downtown Mitchell business owners have felt the pain of the latest road construction projects.

“Traffic wise, business hasn’t been very good,” said Robin Weins, owner of Crazy About Cupcakes, which is located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street. “But the special orders — like for birthday parties and such — have definitely been helping.”

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Scenes from the construction around Mitchell's Main Street on Monday, August 22, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

With the location of this week’s festival spanning from Fifth Avenue to Ninth Avenue, it allows the carnival to remain in the same location it’s been for the last three years despite the ongoing construction.

However, parking and vehicle traffic routes to the festival will be more challenging this year with the road closures around the downtown area.

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Scenes from the construction around Mitchell's Main Street on Monday, August 22, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

— Mitchell Republic reporter Cassie Williams contributed to this story.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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