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Take the road less traveled

This is the week that the Highway 33 construction project really makes travel interesting in Cloquet.

Although residents were granted a brief reprieve of sorts when temporary stoplights for the intersection in front of Wal-Mart failed to arrive — meaning workers couldn’t shut down the northbound lanes on Monday or Tuesday — there were still what locals would consider “traffic jams” to deal with.

Granted, the traffic was rarely gridlocked. Rather, it just backed up from Big Lake Road all the way to Pinehurst Park every time the light changed to red.

Rather than complain about the delays and occasional wrong turns caused by the project, locals are advised to seize the moment and get to know their community even better by taking the roadways less traveled.

Eighth Street or 14th Street instead of Highway 33. Washington Avenue instead of Doddridge. County Road 45 to Cloquet Avenue or even Avenue B. Spring Lake Road to Armory Road to Super One or Pine Valley. There are dozens of alternative routes, all waiting to be discovered.

While we encourage a wander, we are not advocating anyone change where they shop. We’re simply suggesting that people think outside the four-lane-turning-into-a-two-lane construction project that we know simply and fondly as Highway 33.

You are residents, after all. Be proud. Be smart. Use your knowledge of the area to get off the beaten path and let the tourists and cabin owners get stuck in traffic through town.

All the stores and businesses along Highway 33 are open for business as usual, and they’re hoping residents won’t desert them over a little roadwork.

Businesses such as Bergquist Imports, Taco John’s, NAPA Auto Parts, Papa Murphy’s and Applebee’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, L&M, Wal-Mart, Wendys, Maurices,

McDonald Rental, The Tap on 33 and many more. (Cloquet Ford Chrysler, however, has temporarily moved to Scanlon to celebrate the opening of their new Cloquet Motorsports facility.)

Sometimes, however, the construction can’t be avoided.

When one simply can’t miss Highway 33, be a thoughtful driver. Leave extra time to reach your destination. Choose soothing music. Don’t assume the driving lane configuration will look like it did yesterday, or last week. Drive slowly and don’t run over

any construction workers, bicyclists or confused pedestrians please.

It won’t last long. Next winter, when the new, smooth-riding roadway is covered with snow and pedestrians can cross the highway without putting their lives at risk, it will all seem like a bad dream.

And it will be worth the inconvenience.

Jana Peterson