Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Dec. 5, 2018

U.S. Highway 71 North project receives paving award

WILLMAR, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Highway 71 North resurfacing project based in Kandiyohi County has won a 2018 Merit Award for Bituminous Surfacing. The award will be presented at the 63rd Annual Asphalt Contractor’s Workshop & Awards Banquet on March 19, 2019, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. The event is hosted by the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association in conjunction with MnDOT.

“The construction staff faces an array of different challenges with every project,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, assistant district engineer – construction. “It’s nice that their efforts on this project are recognized on a statewide level.”

The U.S. Highway 71 North resurfacing project faced several challenges, including a three-week delayed start due to April blizzards. Although the contractor was able to regain lost time, rainy weather continued to put the project behind, yet it finished only two weeks behind schedule on September 14, 2018.

The project contained several components:

  • an extensive nine-mile resurfacing from the junction of Highway 23 to just north of Highway 9, including cold-in-place recycling;
  • installing six new left-turn lanes, one new right-turn lane, and a new bypass lane;
  • lengthening an existing right-turn lane;
  • the installation of a pedestrian underpass as part of a DNR trail extension; and,
  • the application of a chip seal coat.

“Everybody strives to have a project like this one every year,” said Al Setrum, construction supervisor, “and it takes a lot of people coming together to make it happen. When it was done I thought it was one of the better projects I’ve been a part of and I’ve been part of many good projects. Everything about this project met or exceeded our target standards regarding the ride.”

Setrum noted that the resurfaced road has really good density and if compared to academic grades, it would receive an A/A+. Part of the team responsible for ensuring that quality product and smooth paving surface were Jon Gueningsman, chief inspector, Jeff Bush, street inspector, and Kathy Hokkala, plant monitor. Bush was on the project site daily, and his past experience working as a screed operator in the private sector gave him that extra knowledge that the asphalt was going down at the best depth and slope. “This was my first paving inspector job with MnDOT, so I’m pretty happy with the news,” said Bush.

The design team consisted of Nathan Pederson, design engineer, Derek Weller, lead designer, Lance Kalthoff, utility coordinator, and Al Schmitz, hydraulic designer. “I have never had as many compliments on a project as we’ve received on this one,” said Pederson. “We really put a lot of effort into the scope of the project and were able to secure statewide safety funding to add nearly all of the left-turn lanes. There was a lot of effort by the Traffic Department to bring in the additional funding as it became available.”

“It was a good season overall, but getting the paving award really added to it. You don’t get them every day,” said Setrum. “We wondered if the chip seal would affect the rating, but it didn’t.” MnDOT District 8, where the U.S. Highway 71 North project is located, has been trialing chip seal coats on newly resurfaced roads to increase pavement longevity.

Benefits of the project include a smoother road surface, increased safety and mobility for motorists, and increased safety for pedestrians. The project cost $6 million and the prime contractor was Hardrives. R & G was the subcontractor for grading and turn lanes on the project.

For more information about construction projects in southwest Minnesota visit mndot.gov/d8/projects.            

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