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308 road construction projects planned in 2014

  • Associated Press
  • April 3, 2014 - 6:50 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Workers will undertake 308 road construction projects throughout Minnesota in 2014, a state Department of Transportation official said Thursday.

The $1.1 billion program includes 74 projects in the Twin Cities and 194 projects in Greater Minnesota. Another 40 projects statewide will improve safety at railroad crossings, runways and terminals at regional airports.

"It's like building a Vikings' stadium in a single season" said State Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle during a Thursday news conference in St. Paul. "This year we will be able to maintain and advance the transportation system in ways citizens expect. There will be slight disruptions in work zones, but citizens will appreciate the progress we continue to make on the transportation system."

Gov. Mark Dayton said the work is necessary to "improve our quality of life."

Some of the biggest projects in the Twin Cities include Interstate 35E between Interstate 94 in St. Paul and Little Canada Road; Highway 65 from Fridley to Spring Lake Park; and Highway 100 bridge replacements and highway widening from 36th Street to St. Louis Park.

The projects in the rest of the state include Highway 29 in downtown Alexandria; Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes to Nevis; I-94 from Highway 101 to Highway 241 and I-35 in Owatonna.

The $1.1 billion is about what the state budgeted for 2013.

A similar scope of projects is planned for 2015. Zelle said funding constraints could affect construction and maintenance projects beginning in 2016.

Minnesota will receive $18 billion over the next 20 years to fix roads, but a report from the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee put out late last year said the agency needs $30 billion "to keep pace with Minnesota's growing population and aging infrastructure."

The report said that Minnesota ranks 38th among states in pavement quality, and more than half of the state's highways and 35 percent of its bridges are more than 50 years old.

"We have a pothole issue in the state, but that represents the short-term issue," Zelle said. "It underlines infrastructure needs that need a long-term solution."

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