The City of Red Wing and the State of Minnesota reconstructed a stretch of Highway 61 in downtown Red Wing in 2015 and 2016. Officials credit the unique partnership between the city, state and local business community, and pro-active communication with the residents and business owners for the project’s success.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) originally proposed a mill and overlay for the project, but city officials knew more work needed to be done. The sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and water lines below the highway had served the city for more than 100 years and needed replacing. Also, city leaders wanted to upgrade traffic signals, provide sidewalk bump outs for pedestrian safety, and build curb ramps allowing for handicap accessibility.
Stakeholders sat down and talked
The project’s two stakeholders sat down and talked about their shared interests in the corridor, said Project Engineer Cory Bienfang of Bolton & Menk. Those talks resulted in the state helping the city find additional funding sources. They also led to the development of a two-year construction plan, allowing the highway to remain open to traffic during construction.
MnDOT designed the pavement with an 8-inch doweled concrete road, after completing a cost-benefit analysis, said Bienfang. The reconstructed highway is 62-feet wide as it approaches downtown with four lanes of traffic and a center turn lane. In the downtown area, it’s 62-feet-wide, with two, 10-foot-wide parking lanes.
Bienfang said the biggest construction challenge was keeping the traffic flowing and getting the work done.
“We built the project in halves, building the south side first, keeping the north side open. And then we built the north side, keeping the south side open,” said Bienfang.
“I’m extremely happy with how the project turned out,” said Red Wing City Engineer and Project Lead Jay Owens. The highway was reconstructed, the infrastructure was replaced, and the streetscape now includes LED lighting to save money.
Business community stepped up
Owens also credited the city’s transparency and the work of the local Chamber of Commerce for the project’s success. The business community really stepped up, said Owens.
Chamber Executive Director Patty Brown led a committee that included representatives from the city, state, Port Authority and the business community. The group met weekly to discuss project progress and address concerns raised by residents and business owners. Brown also raised around $100,000 to fund a “Lost Revenue Fund” available to small, locally-owned businesses.
Weekly construction updates via the city’s local television station, website, Facebook page, and local and state Twitter accounts, as well local newspaper stories kept the community informed.
The State of Minnesota and the City of Red Wing shared the project’s costs. The state contributed about $5.5 million. The City financed its portion using $5 million in bonds, $753,000 in municipal state aid and $873,000 from its general fund. The city also assessed property owners about $386,000.
May 2015 – September 2016
- Total cost: $12.6 million, including design, engineering, land acquisition and construction costs.
- Concrete depth: 8 inches on 8 inches of Class 6 Aggregate base and 12 inches of select granular sub base.
- Total project length: 0.95 miles
- Total Concrete Placed: 7,847 CY, including concrete used for pavement, curb and gutter; another 1,327 CY for driveways and sidewalks.
Owner: Minnesota Department of Transportation
Project Lead: Jay Owens, Red Wing City Engineer
Project Manager: Aaron Warford, Bolton & Menk, Burnsville
Engineer: Cory Bienfang, Bolton & Menk, Mankato
Prime Contractor: Meyer Contracting, Maple Grove, MN
Concrete subcontractor: Doyle Conner, Rochester, MN
Concrete Supplier: Cemstone, Hastings, MN and Red Wing, MN
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