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Roadwork ahead: Highway 55

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Get ready for Minnesota's "other season" - roadwork.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has announced its 2010 construction program of 283 projects around the state with a construction cost of $1.3 billion.

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One of the biggest projects in the region will take place in Douglas County - resurfacing State Highway 55 from the west Douglas County line near Hoffman all the way to State Highway 28 in Glenwood.

The work involves mill and bituminous overlay. Crews will also replace the bridge over the Chippewa River.

Work on the $8.13 million project is expected to begin on May 10 and be completed by September 3.

Traffic will be detoured on Highway 27, Interstate 94 and Highway 29 while Highway 55 is closed between Hoffman and Highway 29 in Glenwood.

In late July, the main detour will be reduced to Highway 27 and Douglas County Road 1 while crews complete work between Hoffman and Kensington.

A short detour in Glenwood will be required to resurface Highway 55 between Highway 29 and Highway 28. That work is scheduled to take place before July 4, and will be completed in one week, weather permitting.

Central Specialties Inc. of Alexandria is the prime contractor for the project.

Two other smaller MnDOT projects will also take place in Douglas County:

•Highway 114 will be resurfaced between the Interstate 94 interchange in Alexandria and Highway 55. Some lanes will be closed during the day as part of $1.3 million project.

•Pavement messages on Highway 29/3rd Avenue in Alexandria will be replaced from Broadway to McKay Avenue. The $46,000 project has a "flexible" start date of between June 1 and August 2, according to MnDOT. Some lanes will be closed during the day.

In a news release issued about this year's projects, state leaders say the investment in fixing the roads is well worth it.

"Minnesota's transportation system is a cornerstone to a strong and vibrant state economy," Governor Tim Pawlenty said. "Our administration has invested more than $5 billion on more than 1,900 projects since 2003 to battle congestion, improve safety and foster economic growth."

Of this year's 283 projects, 217 are state highway construction projects including the Highway 169/Interstate 494 interchange in the Twin Cities and bridge and pavement replacement on a section of I-35 in Duluth.

The other 66 projects improve safety at railroad crossings, repair seawalls and docks in three ports, make improvements on runways and terminals at regional airports and remodel or construct new transit facilities.

"MnDOT is focused on improving our highways and maximizing the capacity of the system," said Tom Sorel, MnDOT commissioner.

In addition to the Highway 55 work, other projects in northern and central Minnesota include:

•Replacing and repairing bridge and pavement from I-35 from Boundary Avenue to 26th Avenue East in Duluth ($70 million).

•Reconstructing, resurfacing and building Highway 61 from Duluth to Grand Portage to improve safety ($13.7 million).

•Expanding Highway 71 from two to four lanes, adding turn lanes south of Bemidji and building a new bridge over Highway 2 ($13.5 million).

•Resurfacing Highway 210 from Breckenridge to French ($8.3 million).

•Constructing roundabout, reconstructing Highway 95 and Mille Lacs County Road 29 bridges ($2.7 million).

•Reconstructing Highway 25 in Pierz and installing sidewalks, curbs, gutters, sewers, utilities and street lights ($2.6 million).

•Reconstructing Mississippi River bridges on Highway 10 bypass in Little Falls-damaged during spring 2010 flooding ($1.5 million).

For a complete list of projects, including construction dates and traffic impacts, visit the website at www.mndot.gov.

During construction and road maintenance work, MnDOT urges drivers to:

•Check 511 for up-to-date information about traffic and road conditions.

•Stay alert, expect the unexpected.

•Be especially alert at night when driving through work zones.

•Never enter a road that has been blocked with barriers or cones.

•Minimize distractions.

•Don't use cell phones.

•Remember text messaging while driving is illegal.

•Don't eat or drink while driving.

•Avoid tailgating. Keep plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead.

•Follow posted speed limits; fines double in work zones.

•Stay in one lane while driving through a work zone; don't pass or change lanes unnecessarily.

•Be patient. Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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