We’re headed into that time of year again – road construction season in Minnesota.
The bad news:
The Minnesota Department of Transportation, responsible for arranging road construction, faces an enormous backlog of needed surfacing and construction projects. If it seems like crews are continuously re-doing pavement (in some areas), you’d be right.
Taking a long-term view of our state’s transportation system, – say, 50 years – we’d realize: Choosing durable pavement is more cost effective. Simply, good roads cost less.
Now for the good news:
The highways in the Rochester area provide impressive examples of value and durability of construction. We’ve got a great 12-mile segment of U.S. Highway 52 in Rochester, from the southern junction of U.S. Highway 63 (Broadway Ave S) to the northern junction of Hwy 63 (75th St NW). It opened to traffic in 2005 and it is one of MnDOT’s pride and joy projects – and I’m sure drivers traveling around Rochester enjoy it as well.
And here’s a good reason why: It’s paved with concrete and is expected to last 25 years before any major repair (read: driver frustration due to road construction) is needed.
Not only does using concrete pavement save millions in inflationary costs, it also saves millions more by avoiding future right-of-way acquisitions and reducing administrative costs. Not to mention the time and aggravation of drivers, and the value of your time wasted in traffic. If road maintenance is required less frequently, it keeps our road crews and travelers out of potentially dangerous situations.
The Highway 52 project in Rochester, which used concrete for road surfacing, means less construction inconvenience and stress. And the pavement looks very similar today as it did when it was constructed. There are very few issues with the roadway after 15 years, and it should easily last for 50 years.
More good news:
Right now, concrete paving crews are relocating U.S. Highway 14 from Owatonna to Dodge Center and completing the four-lane connection between Rochester and Mankato. This road won’t need repair for an expected 35 years – much longer than other roads, which is good for everyone.
Improving the roadway system with investments in concrete will serve Rochester’s 21st-century traffic needs.
Matt Zeller is the executive director of Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota.