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I-94 road work ahead in Douglas County

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will do three projects in Douglas County this summer. Number 10 indicates a 15-mile resurfacing project on I-94, number 11 is a bridge replacement on Highway 27 west of Alexandria, and number 12 is a bridge replacement at the I-94 interchange near Osakis. In Grant County, number 17 is the addition of rumble strips, a $1 million project. (Map courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation)

Drivers traveling through Douglas County will see a lot of orange this summer.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is planning nearly $33 million worth of road and bridge projects on sections of Interstate 94 and Minnesota Highway 27 in Douglas County.

The biggest project will take place on I-94 between Highway 79 near Evansville all the way to Minnesota Highway 114 near lakes Lobster and Mina southwest of Garfield — a 15-mile stretch.

Crews will resurface both the eastbound and westbound lanes on I-94 and replace the decks on bridges over Highways 79 and 114 — a $31 million undertaking.

The project is expected to begin in late summer and extend into 2018.

The interstate will be reduced to single-lane traffic in each direction on I-94, using crossovers. There will also be occasional restrictions on the Highways 79 and 114 during the bridge work on the I-94 ramps for Evansville and Garfield.

Two other big state projects are planned in the county:

• Crews are replacing the Highway 27 bridge over I-94 at Douglas County Road 3 west of Osakis. They will also resurface the interchange approaches, lanes and ramps, and upgrade the bridge railing and guardrail.

Detours are in place. Drivers should follow the signs through Alexandria, West Union or Osakis. There will also be periodic single-lane closures on I-94 at the bridge.

The $1.2 million project is already under way and is expected to be completed this August. The bridge will remain closed until early July.

It will result in a longer-lasting bridge and improved safety, according to state transportation leaders.

• Crews will replace the bridge approach panels and resurface lanes on Highway 27 west of Alexandria. Some lanes will be closed during construction.

The $470,000 project will take place between May and June.

It will result in a smoother road surface, said transportation officials.

The local projects are among 211 state road and bridge projects totalling $1 billion that were announced Thursday by Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle.

The 2017 projects, many of which are already under way, 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, Zelle said.

"While this year's program is comparable in dollar value to last year's, we are seeing fewer projects. And, in the coming years, we will also see the funding that is available to invest will decrease because of inflation and flattening revenue streams," Zelle said.

The latest 20-year Minnesota highway investment plan forecasts an $18 billion gap between anticipated revenue and what MnDOT will need to keep the transportation system operating competitively.

"The transportation system is a key to Minnesota's economic success," Zelle said. "With more than half of our state roads older than 50 years, and 40 percent of our bridges more than 40 years old, the need is outpacing available resources. It's important that legislators work together to find a long-term, sustainable funding solution this year so the transportation system does not continue to degrade."

For a complete list of projects, including construction dates and traffic impacts, visit

Watch for orange cones

Because of the number of work zones motorists will encounter as crews perform road construction and maintenance work this construction season, state transportation leaders ask drivers to be alert on the road this summer. Motorists are urged to:

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

• Minimize distractions (e.g., don't use cell phones or eat or drink while driving).

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

• Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.

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.  
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