Hwy 12 to close between Orono and Independence from May to September

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Frank Niu owns Blackwater Coffee and Cafe in Maple Plain. He says business this last year has been tough due to COVID-19.

"Last year, sales dropped probably about 50%," he shared.

He says things were just picking back up, but now there are new concerns.

Highway 12 through Maple Plain, west of the metro, has 20,000 cars a day passing through.

Blackwater Coffee and Café has a front-row seat to all the traffic and is an ideal spot for drivers to swing in, especially now.

"Summer is our busy season because we have a lot of bikers and other people bringing in kids for the summer break. They come here for smoothies, shakes and ice cream," Niu said.

Starting Tuesday, Highway 12 will close from Maple Plain to Independence for road work. Crews will be putting up concrete barriers between lanes and making other safety improvements along the deadly stretch of highway.

"There have certainly been some fatalities, and it’s one of the reasons we have been continuing to work on this and that’s what this is all about," said MnDOT spokesperson Dave Aeikens.

A roundabout will go in at the intersection of Highway 12 and County Road 90. The four-month detour will take drivers south of Highway 12 along County Road 6.

"There will be five temporary traffic signals there (on County Road 6), there’s definitely going to be more cars on 6, people need to obey the speed limit and be patient," Aeikens said.

Businesses will continue to be accessible and Niu hopes customers still come in, especially since he’s told this closure will likely happen again next summer when another roundabout is put in farther west at Highway 12 and County Road 92.

"It’s not for just one season. It’ll be another summer next year," he said.

KSTP asked if Niu is worried about being able to stay open, and he said, "We will keep it open no matter what, no matter what."

Highway 12 is scheduled to be closed in this stretch until September 17, 2021, to get the work done.