Category Cities in action

Minneapolis concrete street rehabilitation adds 20 more years to decades-old streets

Minneapolis street concrete street rehabilitation project | Bye Bye Potholes

The City of Minneapolis completed two concrete street rehabilitation projects in 2017. Work done in both the Waite Park neighborhood and at Oliver and Penn Avenues South  is expected to extend the life of those concrete streets 20 years.

Like so many other cities across the state, Minneapolis has more streets to fix than money to fix them.  In its residential areas alone, the city owns and maintains 631 miles of streets. About 20 percent of those streets were built with concrete in the ‘60s and ‘70s with a projected life span of 45 to 50 years.

Some areas have aged very well, “ said Nathan Koster, Minneapolis Transportation Planning Manager. And most – now more than 40- to 60- years old — have exceeded their projected life span. Still, there are many demanding the city’s attention.

In hopes of extending the life of its concrete streets another 20 years before having to replace them, the city council approved a concrete pavement rehabilitation program in 2016. Public Works recommended $5 million annually for the program over the next 20 years to its capital improvement program.

Rehabilitation is intended to extend the life of the concrete street and to address deterioration to the 40-plus year-old streets before they require more costly repairs or full reconstruction.

Reconstruction projects will be recommended when a street has reached the end of its useful life and typically include the replacement of the sidewalk, pavement, curb and gutter, lighting, signals, signing, striping, and public utility infrastructure.

The goal is to identify the “right fix at the right time” to stretch our tax dollars as far a possible, said Koster.

He added that the city also wants those tax dollars distributed equitably throughout the city. To accomplish that, the city developed a criteria-based system after conducting extensive public outreach.

The program takes into account pavement condition, a neighborhood’s income, racial makeup and level of poverty, how the streets are being used and number of vehicles using the street.

Waite Park Neighborhood

The city began concrete street repairs in a 36-block area of the Waite Park Neighborhood in August, 2017. The work was completed at the end of  October. This neighborhood is located in the area of St. Anthony Parkway, Stinson Boulevard and Central Avenue. It encompasses 3.33 miles of streets. Another 3.25 miles of street repairs are planned in 2018.

The neighborhood’s 50-year-old streets were rated in fair condition. The concrete pavement was 6-inches thick and 32-feet wide comprised of two 10-foot-wide driving lanes and two – 6-foot parking lanes.

This year’s work included a combination of full and partial depth repairs, full and partial panel replacements, joint and crack repairs and some pedestrian ramp and sidewalk work.

Of note: The city developed a YouTube video approximately five years ago to educate residents about concrete street repair.  This was especially useful to share with residents impacted by large residential projects such as this one.

Key facts about the project

City officials put the price tag of this year’s work at about $3 million. Property owners will pay assessments for about one-quarter of the cost ($675,000). Utilities will pay the $400,000 cost of the utility work on the project.

The total concrete that was placed: 3,137 cubic yards (CY).

Project team

  • Owner: City of Minneapolis
  • Project Engineer: Marcus Thomas, Bolton & Menk, Burnsville, Minn.
  • Contractor: Interstate Improvements, Faribault, Minn.
  • Ready Mix Producer: Cemstone, Mendota Heights, Minn.
  • Pavement Grinding Contrator: Interstate Improvements, Faribault, Minn.
  • For more information, contact Nathan Koster, Minneapolis Transportation Planning City of Minneapolis,, 612-673-3638 or Ole Mersinger, PE, City of Minneapolis,

Oliver and Penn Avenues South

The city completed repair work on a ½-mile stretch of Penn Avenue South and Oliver Avenue South in South Minneapolis. This neighborhood is just north of Lake of the Isle near Kenwood Elementary School. Work began in  mid-June and was completed by mid-August prior to school opening.

The concrete pavement was 6-inches thick from Lake of the Isles to 21st Street and 8-inches thick from 21st Street to Douglas. Widths varies between 33 and 36-feet wide. There are two 12-foot driving lanes along the street.

The cost of the project was about $925,000, including engineering costs.

Project team

  • Owner: City of Minneapolis
  • Project engineer: Marcus Thomas, Bolton & Menk, Burnsville, MN
  • Contractor: City of Minneapolis
  • Ready Mix Producer: Cemstone, Mendota Heights, MN
  • Pavement Grinding Contractor: Diamond Surface Inc., Rogers, MN
  • For more information, contact Nathan Koster, Minneapolis Transportation Planning City of Minneapolis,, 612-673-3638 or Ole Mersinger, PE, City of Minneapolis,

Read about another Minneapolis street project and a blog post about all the potholes on King’s Highway in that city.

Minneapolis reconstructs 29th Street as shared use street

29th St shared use street | Bye Bye Potholes
Photo credit: Renee McGivern

The City of Minneapolis is turning 29th Street South in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood into a curb-free, shared use street. This two-block stretch in the state’ s largest city had never been paved. It was made of dirt and oil, riddled with potholes, and had the reputation of being the worst street in the city.

A unique feature of this project is how the city partnered with a local artist to create “Rules of Play,” a colored concrete feature on the sidewalk. It fits this eclectic, vibrant area about eight miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis.

Shared use street a new idea in the U.S.

The city completed the first phase of its 29th Street project between Lyndale Avenue to Bryant Avenue in 2016. This spring’s work from Fremont Avenue South to Emerson Avenue South included new trees and sod. Work from Dupont Avenue to Bryant Avenue South is scheduled for 2020.

A shared use street allows for pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles at the same time, and it is a rare model in the United States. There are similar shared streets in Seattle, and Cambridge, Mass.

The new concrete 29th Street is wide enough to allow for two-way traffic and parking bays on the north side of the street. It also provides for event spaces, green spaces and a sidewalk on the south side.

Minneapolis Engineer Tracy Lindgren said the city chose colored concrete with textured grooving to help sight-impaired walkers delineate the space between the sidewalk and the street. As part of the project, the city updated the storm sewer, and CenterPoint Energy relocated a gas main.

Removing contaminated soil an added project challenge

The city also hauled out 1,690 tons of contaminated soil from petroleum-based products. The area abuts the partially below-grade Midtown Greenway railroad trail now used by pedestrians and bicyclists.

The aggregate base used in this road project is recycled concrete from other road projects from around town. The city stores the used concrete; hires a contractor to crush it each year; and stockpiles the recycled concrete for future projects.

The shared street project’s total cost was about $1 million. The City of Minneapolis paid for most of the project with net debt bonds (municipal bonds) and the balance through special assessments to nearby property owners.

Project Dates:

June 2016-September 2016

Project details

  • Concrete depth: 8 inches with 6 inches of Class 5 Aggregate sub base
  • Total project length: .12 miles
  • Total concrete placed: 501.25 CY, including concrete used for pavement, curb, gutter, event area and sidewalk


Owner: City of Minneapolis

Project Lead: City of Minneapolis (Project Engineer Tracy Lindgren and Planner Don Pflaum)

Project Designer: WSB & Associates (Ann Wallenmeyer and Peter Muehlbach), Minneapolis

Prime Contractor: City of Minneapolis Public Works Department – Paving Construction

Concrete contractor: City of Minneapolis Public Works Department – Paving Construction

 Ready Mix Concrete Producer: Cemstone, Burnsville, MN

Download the Case Study. Check out other 2017 street projects the city is working on.

Minnesota cities are choosing concrete pavement

Mankato roundabouts | Bye Bye Potholes

Minnesota cities are choosing concrete pavement, especially for streets and roundabouts that lots of cars and trucks drive on. This choice means a reduction in potholes in the city because potholes don’t form in concrete.

Another reason for choosing concrete is that these cities are sprucing up the downtown area so it lasts a long time. You can find case studies about them by selecting “Cities in action” in the Categories box to the right.

A number of these cities choosing concrete pavement collaborated with their county or the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Those agencies provide concrete expertise that local city engineers often don’t have. Cities have mastered asphalt and the seal coating, pothole filling and resurfacing.

Working with concrete is quite different than working with asphalt, like baking a bundt cake is quite different than baking a cheesecake. They require different know-how and handling, as all bakers and home cooks quickly discover.

Most cities have zero or little experience with concrete for streets, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. We all resist learning something new at the risk of failing.

Choosing concrete pavement adds to cities’ roadway mix

Some cities are crazy about adding concrete to their roadway mix. Cottage Grove, for instance, is paving its sixth and seventh all-concrete roundabouts this summer. The city was the first in Minnesota to place a roundabout. It has a lot of asphalt streets and yet, prefers concrete for its roundabouts.

The Wells city council just plain prefers it because the streets last 40 years. Pipestone has placed concrete streets recently. The Fargo-Moorhead area has an increasing number of concrete streets. Minneapolis always has paved with both concrete and asphalt.

At some point, the city councils and engineers decided to look beyond what they’ve always done. Here’s a little video showing the concrete streets of cities of various sizes that we’ve written about over the past couple of years.

If they can pave with concrete, why can’t your city?

Mankato builds roundabouts to reduce crashes near busy mall

Mankato roundabouts | Bye Bye Potholes

The City of Mankato, Blue Earth County, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation joined forces in 2014 to construct roundabouts to reduce crashes near a busy shopping mall. Between 2011 and 2013, the Highway 22 intersections at Adams Street and Madison Avenue in Mankato had the highest crash rating in MnDOT District 7.  

Studies recommended roundabouts at the two crossings to improve safety and decrease traffic delays. The same reports also recommended flashing yellow-left-turn arrow signals and sidewalk improvements.

Crews built the two intersections at the same time in 2014.  Construction started on June 9 and the roads opened for traffic on August 25. And despite a significant rain delay the third week of June, the project finished ahead of schedule. To speed up construction, the project called for “high early” concrete in all of the paving. 

MnDOT partnered with the City of Mankato and Blue Earth County to schedule the construction detours so that they disrupted businesses and residents as little as possible. They also took increased traffic due to the Minnesota Vikings training camp and the late summer return of thousands of college students to the area into consideration.

Project details

• 8,350 cubic yards of concrete pavement
• 54,100 square feet of concrete sidewalks
• 10,700 lineal feet of curb and gutter


Owner: MnDOT
Design engineer: TKDA
General contractor: Mathiowetz Construction, Sleepy Eye
Concrete contractor:  Hoffman Concrete, Inc., Mankato
Ready Mix Supplier: Cemstone, Mankato

Download Mankato 2014 Highway 22 roundabouts.

Road reconstruction in Moorhead designed for future expansion

Moorhead, Minn. concrete street | Bye Bye Potholes
Photo credit: Apex Engineering Group

The City of Moorhead finished the road reconstruction of 20th Street South from Sixth Avenue South to 12th Avenue South in 2012. The arterial road project, funded in large part with federal transportation funds, also included rebuilding a bike path that runs parallel to the street.

Project Description

The new concrete road replaced asphalt pavement originally laid in 1964.  Over the years, the road required two asphalt overlays, the first in 1980 and the second in 1989. Assistant City Engineer Tom Trowbridge said the city decided to use concrete as part of a plan that dates back to 2002. Because the city wanted a surface that wouldn’t rut and one that required less maintenance, it turned to concrete. With US Highway 10 to the north and I-94 to the south, the road’s traffic volume exceeds 10,000 cars and trucks per day and carries heavy truck traffic.

“Concrete requires less attention over time and will last longer,” Trowbridge said. The bike path also was repaved with concrete to get rid of the need to seal coat.

Project Engineer Josh Olson of Apex Engineering Group, said the road’s design allows for four lanes of traffic. It now carries two lanes of traffic, with a center turn lane.

During construction, Trowbridge said, the city closed the road to all traffic. That allowed for the work to get done during the summer months. The city provided temporary access for residents of an apartment complex off a nearby street, constructing a temporary driveway through the city park abutting the project.

The project’s total cost was about $1.2 million. Federal funds, administered through the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), paid about $990,000. The city assessed about $195,000 to property owners. The remaining balance was funded by the city through bonding.

Project Dates

June 2012-August 2012

Project Details

  • Concrete depth: 8 inches with 9 inches of Class 5 Aggregate sub base and 12 inches of select granular borrow
  • Total project length: .4 miles
  • Total concrete placed: 8,250 CY, including concrete used for pavement, curb, gutter and bike path


Owner: City of Moorhead

Project Lead: City of Moorhead (Assistant City Engineer Tom Trowbridge)

Project Designer: Apex Engineering Group (Josh Olson, PE), Fargo, ND

Prime Contractor: Paras Contracting Inc., Fargo

Concrete contractor: Paras Contracting Inc., Fargo

Ready Mix Concrete Producer: Strata Corporation, West Fargo, and Knife River Materials, Fargo.

Download the Moorhead Case Study.