Summer in the Douglas County lakes area is here and that means boating, swimming, fishing and of course, road construction.
There are several projects either being worked on, have already been completed or about to start that total more than 45 miles in the county.
Douglas County Public Works Director Tim Erickson said he never makes promises he can’t keep – especially when it comes to road construction. However, there is one promise he knows he can make, “This will inconvenience you. I know it will.”
Erickson also said he tries to limit the inconvenience because he knows roadwork is dirty and that it slows people down. But he said it is worth it in the end.
And although most road construction projects are on a timeline, the pace at which they get done is dependent on the weather. When there is inclement weather, it takes a lot more time for the projects to be completed. Schedules for which roads are to be worked on each year are based on several factors, including the life of the road and how much it gets used.
Some roads need to be completely rebuilt, while others just need minor repairs.
County Road 9 northeast of Alexandria, for example, was rebuilt last year. The process Douglas County uses to completely rebuild a road actually takes a few years. Erickson explained that the old tar surface is reclaimed, or ground up, and reused as a gravel base for the new roadway. The roadway is then graded to lessen hills and valleys in the driving surface, widen the driving area or shoulders or lengthen curves, all of which make the roadway safer.
The whole road sits over the winter to let it settle. Then, the first layer of asphalt is put down, which also goes through a freeze and thaw cycle before the final layer of asphalt is put on the following year. Although it takes a little more time, Erickson said Douglas County found that it gets better final and long-term results when it uses this process.
For County Road 9, it is anticipated that the first round of paving will be done by the end of July this year with the final paving to take place next summer, in 2021.
This year’s road projects, except County Road 7, should all be done by the beginning of September. For County Road 7, however, because it hasn’t gone for bids yet, isn’t expected to be completed until late October.
But Erickson reiterated that it all depends on the weather.
For this year’s projects, Erickson is not anticipating to set up any detours. Crews will be able to work on the projects with traffic flowing on one side, which means motorists should expect some delays.
“We know this is an inconvenience,” said Erickson. “It’s tough. When I come across road construction, I get frustrated, too. But we put up with the inconvenience knowing it will be better when it is all done and we don’t have to deal with the cracks, the potholes and the dust.”
Road construction projects
County Road 3 – three segments near Osakis that total a little more than 10 miles
County Road 9 – one segment about 4.25 miles northeast of Alexandria
County Road 27 – one segment close to 6 miles west of Alexandria
County Road 32 and 76 – each are about 1 mile and connect to County Road 3
County Road 82 – one segment about 4 miles between Lake Brophy and the city of Garfield
County Road 58 – one segment a little over 4 miles northeast of Brandon
County Road 7 – Bidding for this project opens July 8
County Road 23, 46 and 81 – already done