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MnDOT Unveils 2011 Construction Projects

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Winter is gone, and now Minnesota’s second season has arrived — construction. State transportation officials announced their list of road projects taking place around the state this year.

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that this year’s 258 projects will provide 25,000 private-sector construction and related jobs. Last year, 283 projects were announced, although several appear again on the 2011 list.

“It’s a huge multiplier effect, an important part of our economic recovery and these projects serve multiple purposes,” Dayton said of the projects.

Nearly $900 million will be spent to complete the construction projects, a number that is down from a year ago. Last year, MnDOT spent $1.3 billion on projects.

Dayton said there wasn’t enough money to cover all the state’s needs and predicted some communities would be upset that their projects didn’t make the list. Decreased stimulus spending played a role in Minnesota spending less this year.

Dayton urged support for his proposed bonding bill, which he described as a great opportunity to add projects.

MnDOT said the major metro-area projects include rebuilding the Highway 52 Lafayette Bridge in St. Paul, constructing a new interchange at Highway 101 and Highway 13 in Savage, and reconstructing the Highway 36 and Rice Street interchange and replacing the Rice Street Bridge in Roseville/Little Canada.

MnDOT said they will continue converting Highway 169/Interstate 494 to a freeway to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Edina.

“That’s one of the most congested spots on our system … traffic there is in the 60,000 vehicle a day range,” said Tom O’Keefe, Metro Transit’s District Director of Program Delivery.

MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel said projects are chosen based on the condition of roads and bridges, congestion and public input, particularly in terms of quality-of-life issues. The department’s main principles in undertaking the construction are safety, mobility, preservation and economic and community development.

The department has been criticized in previous years for a lack of minority hiring. Sorel said the department is responding to that with what it’s calling a pilot project to ramp up minority hiring. The $45 million construction of the interchange at Interstate 694 and Highway 10 on Snelling Avenue in Arden Hills will include more minority workers and women-owned businesses, he said.

Resurfacing Interstate 94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis will also take place this summer.

Outside of the Twin Cities area, MnDOT said they will be continuing a bridge and pavement replacement project on a section of I-35 in Duluth.

Other major projects in greater Minnesota include:

  • Resurfacing Highway 34 from Park Rapids to Akeley, including installing turn lanes and replacing culverts.
  • Constructing four lanes on Highway 23 east of St. Cloud to Foley.
  • Replacing three bridges and resurfacing Highway 9 from the Norman/Clay county line to Highway 10.
  • Constructing a four-lane expansion, including bridges, on Highway 14 by Waseca.

With all of the work zones that will be operating across the state, Sorel is encouraging motorists to drive with caution and plan ahead.

“We do understand that transportation plays a critical role in the way we compete in the global market place. And it’s very critical that we have a world-class transportation system to do that,” said Sorel.

To find a list of all projects near your area, click here.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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