The Minnesota Department of Transportation has some big plans for Highway 5, which runs through Chanhassen and Victoria -- and that means drivers should brace themselves for a major detour.
After years of complaints and numerous fatal accidents, a dangerous stretch of roadway near the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is finally getting a facelift.
"It's about time to fix it," said Lars Akerberg. "It really is."
Though the four-mile stretch between Highway 41 to Victoria will not be widened to four lanes like many had hoped, it will be resurfaced and new turn lanes will be added, along with improved shoulders. A pedestrian tunnel will also be built near Minnewashta Parkway.
As the $10-million reconstruction gets under way, drivers will need to adjust to a meandering, 8-mile detour.
"It's going to be a big pain," said Akerberg. "It's tough. This road is packed anyway during the day to go up to Highway 7. There really is nowhere else to go to the south."
The major construction won't go into effect until after Memorial Day, but some store owners are already hoping they're not lost in the transportation shuffle even though they know the road needs work.
"It needs it, and this is a long-awaited project -- just not one that we look forward to," said Dawn Walrath, of Cabin Fever.
Road closures will take place in stages -- but Highway 5 will be shut down completely for more than a month.
Cabin Fever is one of a few businesses stuck in the middle of the construction zone, and that will make it difficult for even the most loyal customers to come in.
"We have to remember this is a detour, this isn't a closure," said Walwrath. "We're going to be here -- along with all the other businesses in Victoria. It's just going to be a little more of a struggle to get to us."
Some businesses, like Rising Star Dance Academy, say they plan to use the slow period to be productive in other ways.
"We're taking advantage of that," said Maryann Porter. "We're going to paint the studio and do some other things that we wouldn't have had an opportunity to do."
The City of Victoria has been preparing for the economic impact for the past 18 months, and has even launched a website about the detour alongside a campaign aimed at attracting customers.
"People are nervous about the project, but we're trying to prepare everyone to make sure they know that there will be ways to get in and through town during the construction," said Holly Kreft.