Timeline parallels that of upcoming Highway 12 project
By Ryan Gueningsman
With a timeline almost parallel to that of the upcoming Highway 12 reconstruction project through Delano, Wright County officials are planning on reconstructing a 4.5-mile stretch of Wright County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 17 south of Delano.
Plans for the project are under review by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), and Assistant County Engineer Virgil Hawkins said final approval should come this month.
Hawkins said this is a complete reconstruction project that will include regrading the entire roadway.
“The old bituminous will be removed and recycled, and we’ll be rebuilding the entire roadbed, making it wider,” Hawkins said. “The new road will have a paved 8-foot shoulder.”
Since last fall, construction crews have been doing a swamp surcharge (overloading with sand) because a portion of the road goes through a swampy area. Hawkins said crews have to overload that area to compress underlying soils. This work requires several layers of sand being placed.
“That’s what we’ve been doing since November,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said construction should begin mid- to late-May, and continue through November 2008, at which time the roadway will be reopened to traffic.
The project will provide 12-foot travel lanes on the roadway, as well as an 8-foot-wide paved shoulder. An off-road pathway (10 feet-wide aggregate surface) will also be constructed along the east side of the highway. Hawkins said the project should improve the slopes/curves of the roadway, as well as the road’s side slopes.
“If a driver is distracted and goes off the edge, now, they’ll likely flip their car, but with the new inslope, it’s a lot less likely the car will flip over,” he said.
Another feature of the roadway will be “clear zones,” which are new standards that are required so that vehicles can recover up to 30 feet off the travel lane. Hawkins said the clear zones make it much safer when it comes to power poles and trees.
As far as the timing for the project, Hawkins said this has been something the county has wanted to do for about six years, and was originally identified in Wright County’s five-year construction program, which was approved by the county board in March 2003, and subsequently included in the current five- year construction program, approved in December 2006.
“This project has been delayed two years already,” Hawkins said. “Originally, we would have liked to have the road under construction a year or two earlier, but because of funding shortages and other complications, we were not able to build until this year.”
Hawkins said doing it at the same time as Highway 12 through Delano is worked on will have its advantages and disadvantages.
“It has pluses and minuses,” he said. “There is a chance we could benefit from getting a better bid on our project if they’re already mobilized in the area (Highway 12). We could benefit from that.”
One negative effect, he said, is that having both roads closed could affect hauling routes.
“People are going to have to think ahead on how they get from point A to point B,” Hawkins said. “I think once people get familiar with new routes they’re taking, they just have to allow for some extra time to get where they’re going.”
Hawkins said there is not going to be a posted detour route for the CSAH 17 project, and that people will need to figure out ways around the project on their own. The road will be completely closed from the south end of Wright County to the south city limits of Delano (near Seventh Street).
For people who live along CSAH 17 and have to drive through the project to get to their homes, there will be access to them, Hawkins added.
He said the highway department has already given out car tags for people who live along the construction route.
“When they (road workers) see people with car tags, they need to accommodate them to get them through to their homes,” Hawkins said, adding that a Wright County deputy will monitor the area.
“If people are driving through the workzone without car tags, they can get tickets,” he said.
The total construction cost for the project is about $4.5 million, which does not include right-of-way acquisition costs.
Federal funding has been received for $1 million of the cost, with the remainder coming from the Wright County regular state aid construction account (approximately $3,135,000), Wright County Parks (approx. $200,000), and Hennepin County (approx. $165,000).
Right-of-way acquisition costs will also come from Wright County’s regular state aid construction account.
Part of the funding comes from Hennepin County because the roadway straddles the Wright/Hennepin line for a quarter of a mile, Hawkins added. While it is CSAH 17 in Wright County, it becomes Hennepin County Highway 157 on the Hennepin County side.
Hawkins said the federal funds also have a “sunset date” attached to them.
“We have to build it this year, or else lose the federal funds,” he said.