Get ready for road work

Get ready for road work

With one Minnesota season finally arriving — spring, another one is just getting started — road construction.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced that road crews will be working on $1.1 billion in state road and bridge projects across the state.

Several projects will impact drivers traveling in and around Douglas County, including:

• A $23 million overlay project will take place on I-94 between Evansville and Garfield. The project began last summer and is expected to wrap up this fall.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane on I-94 from Highway 79 to Highway 114 for the next couple of weeks. There will also be intermittent westbound lane closures on Monday, April 30 until Friday, May 4 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Crews will install culverts in the median and work on erosion control.

In addition to resurfacing the road, crews will replace the decks on the I-94 bridges over Highways 79 and 114.

MnDOT says the benefits of the project are safer bridges, a smoother road surface and ensuring that MnDOT's transportation system will continue to serve the state for many years.

• The bridges on I-94 over Lake Latoka near Exit 100 west of Alexandria will be replaced.

The $2.5 million project will result in two-lane, two-way traffic with crossovers east and west of the bridges.

The westbound bridge is tentatively set to be replaced this year while work on the eastbound bridge is set for 2019.

MnDOT says the project will result in smoother, safer bridges.

• Two projects are scheduled in the Glenwood area.

MnDOT, Pope County and the city of Glenwood are partnering for a resurfacing and reconstruction project on Highways 28, 29 and 104.

The $11 million project will improve pavement, pedestrian accessibility, traffic flow, utility needs and boulevards, according to MnDOT.

Six blocks of Highway 28 in downtown Glenwood will be reconstructed using the "Complete Streets" concept that was used to reconstruct Alexandria's Broadway four years ago with the goal of making the street safer and more convenient for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Glenwood streets will be reconstructed to three lanes — two 12-foot through lanes and a 12-foot center left turn lane. The project also calls for a 10-foot wide parking lane, a bike lane, and sidewalk.

The project will result in detours and impact the parade route during Waterama 2018, according to MnDOT.

The other project near Glenwood is a proposed overpass at the junction of Highways 29 and 55, just north of the city. The project, estimated to cost $12 million, would eliminate an "at grade" crossing with the CP Railway system and redesign the undesirable skewed intersection of the two highways, moving the junction south to 160th Street and giving the intersection a perpendicular layout.

Pope County officials, with support from MnDOT, are pursuing the overpass project but it is contingent on funding.

A busy year statewide

Statewide, MnDOT is planning 253 projects this construction season. Many of them are already underway.

The projects will help keep the state's roads and bridges in good working condition, improve safety for motorists and support thousands of construction jobs across the state, according to MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle.

"These projects are critical investments in Minnesota's aging transportation system," Zelle said. "We will repave roads, repair and paint bridges, replace culverts and rehabilitate structures."

Zelle also announced 49 multimodal projects valued at $32 million. These include airport, port and railroad projects that are outside of the state road construction program.

More funding needed, says Zelle

Despite the large construction program this year, Zelle said the long-term transportation funding picture remains bleak compared to the system's needs.

In 2017, Governor Dayton and the Legislature provided an additional $640 million in trunk highway bonding over the next four years as well as $164 million in cash. This additional funding will reduce Minnesota's annual $600 million transportation funding gap by $200 million for each of the next four years. However, Minnesota's $600 million annual funding gap will resume beginning again in 2022, Zelle noted.

By Al Edenloff 

Source, images, credits & more information: EchoPress

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