Sunset Street project in Albert Lea includes new sidewalk

PHOTO CREDIT: City of Albert Lea

The City of Albert Lea completed a $1.74 million concrete street and utility reconstruction project on Sunset Street from Highway 13 to Lakeview Boulevard in 2017. The upgrade included replacing the street itself, curb and gutter and the aging infrastructure under the street.

City officials estimated the age of the water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines to be between 80- and 90-years-old.

To provide walkers a safer way to access Fountain Lake, the city also installed a 5-foot-wide concrete sidewalk on the north side of the street. That required narrowing the street and shifting it within the existing street right of way. The completed 34-foot-wide street also included two 12-foot-wide driving lanes and one, 8-foot parking lane on the south side of the street and a 2- foot buffer on the north side of the street.

Subsoil impacted selection of concrete

Like the nearby Lakeview Boulevard street project completed two years earlier, City Engineer Steven Jahnke said concrete was chosen because of the poor subsoil.

Most of the Sunset Street project $1.74 million costs were paid with Municipal State Aid Street funds. The city assessed property owners along the route $324,000. The city contributed $190,000 from its sanitary sewer enterprise fund and $284,000 from its water enterprise fund.

Project Dates:

June 2017 – October 2017

Project details

  • Total cost: $1.74 million; with construction costs totaling about $1.48 million
  • Concrete depth: 8 inches on 8 inches of Class 5 Aggregate sub base and 12 inches of Class 3 select granular sub base
  • Total project length: 0.4 miles
  • Total Concrete Placed: 2,039 CY (1,614 CY for the street, 290 CY for curb and gutter and 135 CY for the sidewalk.)


Owner: City of Albert Lea

Project Engineers: Bolton & Menk, Mankato

Prime Contractor: Quam Construction, Willmar

Concrete contractor: Hoffman Concrete, Mankato

Concrete Supplier: Croell, Inc, Albert Lea

Download the Case Study.

Video: How do potholes form in asphalt

How do potholes form | Bye Bye Potholes

Potholes form in asphalt, not concrete

A common question for drivers everywhere in the U.S. is “How do potholes form?” If you live in a cold climate, we’ll hear about the freeze/thaw cycle that breaks down asphalt pavement. Check out the video below. It was created by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in a state with a cold climate indeed. What this video doesn’t address is how potholes form in hot climate states, like Texas, Louisiana and the like. Indeed, there are potholes there as well!

Asphalt is a flexible pavement and more likely to break down and form potholes. Concrete, on the other hands, is a rigid pavement and doesn’t break down into potholes. It cracks, but you rarely see a hole in concrete pavement. So how do potholes form? You can choose to watch the video or read the video transcript below.


Pothole video transcript:

Here’s a cross-section of a typical pavement. The weight of each vehicle bends the pavement slightly. Small cracks form, first on the bottom of the asphalt because that gets stretched the most. As the asphalt is fatigued, cracks also form on the top surface.

Now, water on the pavement from rain or melted snow gets into the cracks. When the temperature drops, the water freezes and expands making the cracks deeper and wider. With more precipitation, more freeze-thaw cycles, and the continued vehicle loading, sooner or later the cracks go all the way through the pavement.

Now, water can get underneath the surface. When this subsurface water freezes and expands, it pushes the pavement up and weakens it even more. When the ice melts and contracts, it leaves a space, so we have a weakened pavement layer over a cavity. All that’s needed now is a good-sized vehicle, and there’s your pothole.

Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation

You might want to check out Minnesota cities that are choosing to end potholes on their streets. Click on “Cities in Action” in the right-hand column to read about their projects.

This post was first published in May of 2015.

Newspaper column weighs pros and cons of concrete roads

Newspaper column | Bye Bye Potholes.

The Spring Grove Herald editor in southeast Minnesota wrote a thoughtful newspaper column this month. It weighs the pros and cons of paving with concrete. The editor challenged local leaders to look at the whole picture when it comes to road construction projects. Concrete paving was placed on Fillmore County Road 1 in 2016 between Spring Valley and the Olmsted County line.

The newspaper column tapped into the case studies and facts on this Bye Bye Potholes website. We appreciate that he grasped that an investment in concrete is an investment for decades. And it eliminates the possibility of potholes.

Here’s an excerpt from that column and a jump over to the complete Spring Grove Herald column.

County highway should have smooth ride for decades

Before construction started in 2016 on Fillmore County Road 1 — Fillmore County’s busiest county state aid highway when it isn’t closed for road work — traveling that stretch of highway from Spring Valley to the Olmsted County line was rough, to put it mildly. The potholes had become so numerous that many people feared for the health of their vehicles and even their own health as they traveled the 12 miles of county highway.

However, potholes on that highway will be a thing of the past as Fillmore County is paving the road with concrete. It’s not the first Fillmore County highway to transition from the typical asphalt to concrete, but it is still rare for local roads to have a concrete surface.

The main reason for the lack of concrete thoroughfares is expense — at least upfront expense. As the potholes surface again this spring now that the snow and constant freezing is nearing an end, it is worth examining whether local governments are considering the whole picture when it comes to road construction.

New asphalt is cheaper than concrete, but asphalt roads can break down into potholes within three years on one extreme while new Minnesota concrete pavement designs are expected to last as long as 60 years with minimal maintenance on the other extreme. . . .

Read the rest of the column by David Phillips.

St. Peter leverages bridge project to improve business district

A 600-foot section of Broadway Street in the downtown St. Peter, Minn. was reconstructed in 2017 to beautify and strengthen the busy eastern entrance to the downtown business district. downtown. Drivers enter from the historic Highway 99 Minnesota River Valley Bridge and the project extended from the bridge to Highway 169 (Minnesota Street).

Simultaneous projects a sensible move for MnDOT and St. Peter

City leaders seized the opportunity to reconstruct that end of Broadway Street when MnDOT rehabilitated the unique historic Pennsylvania thru-truss bridge; MnDOT was setting up detours the city could take advantage of. The bridge project involved strengthening truss floor beams, constructing a new concrete bridge deck and sidewalk, and more. Some bridge work remains for 2018.

“The city was involved with the design, putting a plan together, and bidding the project,” said City Engineer Jeff Domras, P.E. “We added raised decorative concrete medians, signals, accessible sidewalks and new parking configurations.” The $1.36 million project involved replacing underlying utilities, underground stormwater infrastructure and adding a fiber optic conduit.”

Also, the city sat down with business owners to explain the project and work out a way to minimize the impact on those businesses.

“I think everyone’s very happy with the street,” said Domras. “It was well worth it.”


July 2017 to May 2018


  • Total project cost was $1.36 million including $930,000 from MnDOT, $200,000 from  Area Transportation Partnership funds, $120,000 from city MSA funds, and $110,000 from the local utility.
  • Seven inches of non-reinforced and downed concrete over six inches of aggregates.

Owner: City of St. Peter

Project Lead: Jeff Domras, St. Peter City Engineer, Bolton & Menk

Project Designers: Cory Bienfang, PE, Bolton & Menk, Fairmont

Prime Contractor: Ram Excavating, Inc. Winsted

Subcontractor: O’Malley Construction, Inc., LeCenter

Ready mix producer: River’s Edge Concrete, Belle Plaine

MnDOT Minnesota River Valley Bridge project manager: Zachary Tess • MnDOT construction supervisor: Todd Kjolstad

For more information, contact

Download the case study St Peter TH99 reconstruction.


Two tools worth using when fixing or building streets

life cycle cost analysis | bye bye potholes

Is your city requiring both asphalt and concrete pavement bids when fixing or building streets? If not, the bigger question is, why not?

Elected officials say taxpayers are looking to get the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to the cost of government. That includes the cost of building and repairing streets.

For that reason alone, cities and counties should require bids for both asphalt and concrete pavements. And those bids should include a life cycle cost analysis for road construction or repair projects. Doing so helps them determine whether using asphalt or concrete materials is the more cost-effective, sustainable investment.

Life Cycle Cost Analysis

The life cycle cost analysis considers the pavement’s initial cost, as well as the projected maintenance and reconstruction costs over the life of the road. Ultimately, it helps answer the question: Which design alternative – asphalt or concrete – results in the lowest total cost over the life of the project?

According to a 2012 American Public Works Association report, getting both asphalt and concrete bids often lead to reduced cost and an increase in a projects’ sustainability rating.

The concrete industry itself acknowledges that its product often has a higher initial cost than asphalt, but points to life cycle cost analysis to show that concrete generally has a longer useful service life and fewer maintenance costs over the life of the project. Read more here.

But the cost is just one measure of sustainability. What about the environmental impact of a road project?

Another tool being used helps cities determine the societal cost of concrete and asphalt is the environmental life cycle assessment. This rating includes the environmental impacts of using concrete or asphalt.

These two tools provide two very different assessments. The life cycle costs analysis measures the cost-benefit ratio; the environmental life cycle assessment helps measure the environmental footprint of a road project. Yet both tools help determine whether concrete or asphalt materials give taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck.