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MnDOT: 'Serious Safety Concerns' Further Delay Opening Of Goose Creek Rest Area

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The state says serious safety concerns could keep a popular rest area closed even longer.

Earlier this week, a WCCO investigation found construction delays are keeping the remodeled Goose Creek Rest Area near North Branch off limits. Now, the Minnesota Department of Transportation says incomplete work by the contractor will add to the wait.

The dramatic transformation of a small circular building into the state's most expensive rest area has Minnesotans asking questions. Seven million dollars and 25 months later, it seems there are even more.

Now, with a public back and forth between MnDOT and the project's contractor, it's likely Goose Creek will still be closed for Memorial Day traffic headed north.

On Wednesday, MnDOT says it took pictures at the rest area that prove it's dangerous. You can see concrete hasn't been poured along a walkway and a temporary wood railing sits unfinished, along with a retaining wall with no guardrail. MnDOT says it can't "open it to the public yet because of serious safety concerns."

RELATED: 'This Is Really A Boondoggle': Price Tag On Rest Stop Remodel Tops $7.2M

Sheehy Construction maintains there's no reason the facility cannot be occupied. The company's vice president says temporary handrails and guardrails in place since December protect the public, which is why Sheehy says it received a Certificate of Occupancy then.

Hundreds of viewers have weighed in online questioning the high cost.

"Stop WASTING our money, and then raising taxes," Candi says.

Matt wondered if there could be a bank of outhouses and three vending machines instead.

MnDOT says it's been 50 years since a facelift and the project required extensive work. Still, MnDOT's Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher promised a full review of the project, which went into motion before her time in that position.

As it stands right now, Sheehy says it's waiting on the manufacturer to finish the walkway and guardrail. The construction company told MnDOT the work will take at least another month – a timeline MnDOT told Sheehy isn't sufficient.

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