St. Paul launched a campaign two years ago to redo some of its most potholed and deteriorated streets, which Mayor Chris Coleman dubbed the "Terrible 20." By the end of this year, that list of rough roadways will have shrunk to a Terrible 3.
Construction crews have completed 80 percent of the repairs to those high-traffic streets. The city is on track to finish 90 percent by the end of the year, Public Works Director Kathy Lantry told the City Council during a budget meeting this week.
All that remains on that list after this year are segments of Wheelock Parkway, 3rd Street and Battle Creek Road.
"The Terrible 20 numbers are very exciting and gratifying," Council Member Jane Prince said after Lantry's update.
The polar vortex that hit Minnesota in the winter of 2013-14 ravaged St. Paul roads and prompted Coleman to roll out the Terrible 20 project during his 2014 State of the City address.
He said then that it would cost $70 million to rebuild the streets. But the city took a less intensive and far less expensive approach to many of the roads by resurfacing them rather than completing a full rebuild.
The city estimated it would cost $38.9 million to complete the full project, which includes various problematic sections of the 20 different roads. So far, St. Paul has spent nearly $20.7 million on the streets and next year's work will cost about $8.9 million, according to the public works department's projections.
The final Terrible 20 road project — reconstructing Wheelock Parkway from Western Avenue to Rice Street — is scheduled for completion in 2018 and is projected to cost $5 million.
The city selected which streets would be redone based on pavement condition and traffic volume, according to city documents. In the first year of the project, crews wrapped up construction on more than half the roads.
That rapid pace has slowed. The city began by fixing up streets that could be quickly redone, and now is completing or planning more complicated and time-intensive overhauls, Public Works spokesman Joe Ellickson said.
The initial street repairs that crews finished up quickly were mill and overlay projects. That process gives roads a new surface by grinding up and removing the top layer of the road and laying new pavement. It is far less expensive than a full rebuild.
But for Wheelock Parkway, a pocked road that the city has tackled in various stages, workers will do a complete reconstruction of the street, including curbs, sidewalks and landscaping, Ellickson said.
Other road construction work has not halted while the city focuses on the Terrible 20. People often lump other projects, like the Jackson Street reconstruction in downtown, in with the Terrible 20 roads, Ellickson said, but it did not meet pavement condition requirements to make the list.