Last summer MnDOT put down a thin layer of epoxy chip seal on the Mendota Bridge to make the driving surface less slippery and to keep water from seeping below the concrete and coming in contact with bridge joints.

Not long after, Drive reader Bob noticed that the new topping began to peel off, and the problem has just gotten worse, he said.

“There are now thousands of square feet of missing aggregate,” he wrote in an e-mail. He said the problem is concentrated at the middle of the bridge inbound to Minneapolis but is also visible in areas on the east end of the bridge carrying traffic between Fort Snelling and Mendota Heights.

“At one point this spring signs were placed indicating that work was to be done. All that happened was that a few areas were outlined with spray paint and some topping was cut away. As of two days ago there has been no more work done on the repairs and I do not see any orange safety signs being stockpiled near the bridge approaches for future work. It seems to me the contractor [is slow] on repairing the deficient work.”

Good news, Bob. MnDOT is aware of the problem and will remedy it this summer. It likely won’t happen until work on nearby Hwy. 110 is complete, said spokeswoman Kirsten Klein.

As for why the coating flaked off so soon: “We don’t know the exact reason it did not bond. It might have been the quality of the mix or just a bad batch,” she said.

The job was under warranty, so the contractor will come back to scrape off the current layer and put down new chip seal at no additional cost to MnDOT or taxpayers.

Staying aware

Don’t be alarmed if you see a scad of teenagers in Eden Prairie putting up yellow balloons throughout the city on Tuesday night. It’s for a good cause.

They will be out to draw attention to the epidemic of distracted driving, a problem that on average takes the lives of nine people and results in 1,000 more injured every day in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Those are shocking and scary numbers for Eden Prairie High School senior Amy Wang, co-president of the school’s Distraction Free Driving Club. She wants drivers to be shocked and scared, too.

Wang, fellow club members and students from the school’s DECA Club will fan out to 36 intersections in the city to put up balloons with the number 9 on them.

Yellow is the color of caution and the number 9 is “to remind or teach people about the nine lives lost daily to distracted driving,” Wang said. For most of us, “being injured or killed seems foreign or impossible. We want to remind people of the dangers.”

The balloon campaign is a lead-up to the 10th annual Raksha 5K/10K Walk for Distraction-Free Driving at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Purgatory Creek Recreation Area in Eden Prairie. The event is put on by Vijay Dixit, whose daughter, Shreya, was killed in a distracted driving crash in 2007.

Ever since, Dixit has pushed for tougher laws, even testifying at congressional hearings. This year he’s getting help from state Reps. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, and Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, who collaborated last session to introduce a bill that would make it unlawful to use hand-held devices while driving. The bill stalled in committee but will likely be reintroduced when the Legislature convenes in February.

 

Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.