The Minnesota Department of Transportation has won an award for a program that is improving hundreds of miles of state highways deemed to be in poor condition.

The International Road Federation, a nonprofit whose purpose is to encourage better road and transportation systems worldwide, will recognize MnDOT for its "Better Roads for a Better Minnesota" project during its annual Global Roads Achievement Awards luncheon in January in Washington D.C. MnDOT won in the finance and economics category.

"It it a significant honor to win this award," said MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel. "Transportation agencies and businesses from across the world compete. It says a great deal about Minnesota's innovative transportation engineering and delivery efforts."

MnDOT kicked off  "Better Roads for a Better Minnesota" last year and will spend $398 million in state and federal funds on projects such as resurfacing Hwy 13 from Annapolis St. in West St. Paul to 35W in Burnsville, resurfacing and rehabilitating Cedar Avenue between 138th St. in Apple Valley to the Minnesota River bridge, and resurfacing the Crosstown Hwy. 62 through Edina and Richfield.

MnDOT  has committed an additional $980 million for "Better Roads for a Better Minnesota" through June 2014. Without the investment, the number of miles of state highways that would be deemed to be in poor condition would increase from 700 today to 1,900 miles by 2020.

Along with improving highways, "Better Roads for a Better Minnesota" also includes expanding the MnPass program and building stronger shoulders to accommodate mass transit. It also includes increasing safety and accessibility, and improving infrastructure such as drainage facilities.

"Minnesota roads are aging faster than our transportation investments can keep up," Sorel said. "Investing in roads now will stop the accelerated decline of our infrastructure and allow for more sustainable maintenance in the future."

A key component of the program is using innovative methods of contracting, design and contracting, Sorel said.

Along with pavement upgrades, "Better Roads for a Better Minnesota" includes installing freeway management systems, curb ramps and sidewalks to comply with the American Disabilities Act, traffic signal enhancements, and replacing culverts and drainage systems.

"We will see major improvements in transportation infrastructure," Gov. Mark Dayton said when the project kicked off in May 2011. "Improved highway conditions will benefit citizens and businesses, making it easier for employees to travel to and from work, and easier for businesses to get goods to and from market."


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Hwy. 169 to 494 ramp closed

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Bad weather means no work on Cedar Avenue today