Category Cities in action

Nicollet County roundabout eases traffic, ensures safe access to high school

A new Nicollet County concrete roundabout eases traffic on Broadway Street (CSAH 5) in Peter, Minn. The impetus for the project was the construction of a modern, new St. Peter High School on this street at the edge of downtown. The school opened in September 2017.

The highway has heavy truck traffic, and the speed limit is 45 mph from the east and 55 mph from the west. The county worked with the St. Peter School District and the City of St. Peter on how to slow down the traffic and allow safe access to the school.

“Speed was a real concern, especially since we have young drivers and quite a few students who walk and bike to school,” said Nicollet County Engineer Seth Greenwood. “Rather than having traffic going 55 mph, we had to consider how to get that to slow down.”

Roundabout eases traffic yet keeps it flowing

When the school district held public open houses in 2016 to talk about the bond referendum for the new high school, county representatives were there to describe the roundabout solution. A feature of the roundabout design is long, curved medians that force drivers to reduce their speed.

“We’ve heard positive feedback from residents and it seems to be working extremely well,” Greenwood said.

A related project involved a township gravel road that leads up to the roundabout from the south. The township and city received local road improvement funds and replaced the gravel with bituminous at the same time the roundabout was constructed.


The 1.14-mile CSAH 5 project stretches from 361st Avenue to Sunrise Drive. The entire project was paved with 7-inch, doweled concrete for long-term performance of the pavement.

Broadway Street on the west side of the project was already paved with concrete. The urban side was paved with 25-year-old bituminous that was in tough shape. The county milled that out and replaced it with concrete. Also, it rehabilitated some curb and gutter, updated ADA ramps, and performed soil correction in the roundabout area.


$3 million: The county paid $2.1 million, and the city and school district put in $900,000.


May 2017 – August 2017.  They had to finish before the new high school opened right after Labor Day.


Owner: Nicollet County • Project designer: Stonebrooke, Burnsville • Contractor: Mathiowetz, Sleepy Eye • Subcontractor: Hoffman Concrete, Mankato • Ready mix producer: Cemstone

Check out a different 2017 St. Peter case study: Broadway Street reconstruction project.

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.


Waseca city and county choose concrete for MnDOT turnback project

This is the west side of the Elm Avenue turnback project.
This is the east end of the Elm Avenue project.










The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Waseca County recently reached a turnback agreement giving custody and care of the old Trunk Highway 14 (Elm Avenue), back to the county. The negotiated transfer includes significant updates to the once highly traveled and now tired and worn roadway.

A Highway 14 bypass that circumvents the south-central Minnesota city of Waseca, population 9,074, was constructed several years ago.

This Elm Avenue concrete reconstruction project will likely span two construction seasons; it started in 2017 and will be complete in fall 2018 or spring 2019. The City of Waseca is coordinating and designing this undertaking, as the roadway falls within city limits.

City tapped into several funding sources to pay for turnback project

According to Consulting Engineer Joe Palen of Stantec Consultants in Rochester, Minn., funding came predominantly through MnDOT and their portion of the turnback.

The city funded its share of the project through a $1.27 million federal funding grant, low-interest loans from the Drinking Water and the Clean Water revolving loan funds administered through the state’s Public Facilities Authority and local utility funds. These funds were used to offset the costs sanitary sewer, water main, stormwater, lighting and sidewalk improvements that were constructed as part of the project.

The Old Trunk Highway 14 improvement project includes the replacement of the road surface with concrete, and significant infrastructure and traffic safety upgrades.

The use of concrete was established in the turnback agreement made between MnDOT and Waseca County, according to Palen.

He said, “One of the main benefits is the longevity of the product along with reduced maintenance costs. There’s a decent amount of truck traffic running through the corridor. I think those were probably some of the considerations when specifying concrete for the road surface.”

Ulland Brothers Inc., Albert Lea, Minn., was the low bidder for the project at just over $18,298,000. Hoffman Concrete, Mankato, Minn., was subcontracted to perform the concrete work.


Start: June 2017

Anticipated Completion: Spring of 2019


  • Concrete depth: 7-inch concrete pavement
  • Total project length: 3.4 miles
  • Total concrete placed: 77,150 sq. yards

Owner: Waseca County

Project Team

City of Waseca, Waseca County & MnDOT

Project lead: Mark Duchene Waseca City Engineer (former)

Project Designer: Stantec Consultants, Rochester, MN

Project Manager: Joseph Palen, Stantec

Prime Contractor: Ulland Brothers Inc. Albert Lea, MN

Concrete Contractor: Hoffman Concrete Mankato, MN

Ready Mix Concrete Producer: Cemstone

Here’s a previous blog article about another MnDOT turnback and related reconstruction project: 2017 Hutchinson concrete street reconstruction.

Jim Schill of Lime Valley Advertising in Mankato wrote this article.

Cities, counties extend the lives of their concrete streets and roads

Minneapolis concrete street rehabilitation | Bye Bye Potholes.
Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

Minnesota cities and counties are turning to partial- and full-depth repairs to extend the lives of their concrete streets and roads.

In some cases, the roads were nearing the end of their projected service life. In others, the concrete streets have served their communities far longer than ever expected.

Officials perfected the concept of concrete repair in Minnesota in the mid-80s, said Matt Zeller, executive director of the Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota. Rehabilitation allows cities and counties to take care of their original investments.

“It allows them to add years to the life of the pavement, rather than having to replace it,” Zeller said.

Waseca County turned to partial- and full-depth repairs to fix two roads last summer. A 6.5 miles stretch of County State Aid Highway 3 (CSAH 3) between Janesville and Elysian, was 30 years old and showing its age because of truck traffic, and salt and sand use. The other, a four-mile section of CSAH 7 near Morristown, estimated to be about 20-years-old, had developed some joint issues.

City expects pavement to last another 20 years

Some 75 miles north, the City of Minneapolis completed two concrete street rehabilitation projects – one in the Waite Park neighborhood and at Oliver and Penn Avenues South. In both cases, city officials expect the work to extend the life of the concrete by 20 years or more.

On both projects, crews finished the work by diamond grinding the road surface to improve skid resistance, reduce noise and increase safety.

Zeller said diamond grinding was developed for highways. Using it in cities is a relatively new practice, he added, saying that diamond grinding gets the pavement back to a nice, smooth surface.

There are concrete streets in Owatonna that were rehabbed 30 years ago — long before it was a mainstream idea. Zeller said the public works director knew city streets didn’t require the same degree of rehabilitation as highways.

“The traffic isn’t as heavy and the vehicles don’t drive as fast as they do on the highway. So he’d cut out a small section and place new concrete.”

Many of practices developed in Owatonna are now part of the Minnesota Local Road Research Board’s concrete standards, Zeller said.

Pipestone paving with concrete to reduce street maintenance costs

Photo courtesy of Bolton & Menk

Reducing street maintenance costs and eliminating potholes rank high on the City of Pipestone’s public policy agenda. So when the city needs to rebuild a street and the infrastructure below, it’s been turning to concrete.

You might say: The city is building for the future.

“We are looking at the extended life of a concrete street,” said City Administrator Jeff Jones. And in some cases, that means replacing an asphalt street with a concrete one.

That was the case with its 2017 street project in the Hill Elementary School neighborhood. In addition to new streets, the city needed to replace its deficient and/or undersized underground water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer utilities on Seventh Avenue SW, Ninth Street SW, and 11th Street SW.

City requires asphalt and concrete bids

When the city put the project out for bid, it required both asphalt and concrete bids for the pavement.

“The city wanted to see what the cost difference was, knowing the life of concrete is longer,” said City Engineer Travis Winter of Bolton & Menk. And while asphalt prices have been dropping elsewhere, Winter said, he’s seen asphalt-paving projects in the region come in at higher costs the last few years.

Pipestone, a community of about 4,300 residents, is located in southwestern Minnesota. Many cities in the region are home to ready mix plants.

Availability factors into pricing, said Dan Scotting, Buffalo Ridge Concrete Plant Manager and part owner of the company.

“Unless there is a larger, asphalt project set up by MnDOT in the region, asphalt has to be trucked up to 40 miles,” said Scotting.

“All anybody wants is an opportunity to bid and make sure cities are comparing apples to apples,” Scotting said. Factoring in the cost of maintenance over the life of the street provides an apples-to-apples comparison.

“And frankly, cities are getting better bids when they require both because there is more competition.”

Winter said that while concrete generally costs about 3/4 more on the front end, it requires little or no maintenance. So at the end of 50 years – the life expectancy of a concrete street — the cost of asphalt and concrete are about even.

MnDOT reports that the average life expectancy of their concrete pavements is 27.5 years before repair while asphalt pavements have an average life expectancy of only 15.5 years before repair.

Concrete is saving Pipestone money

Winter’s projections were about on target: For this project, paving with concrete cost about $350,000 or about 60 percent more than the asphalt bid. That’s about $30,000 more per block paved. But when the city considered the costs of maintaining the asphalt street for 50 years, the city is projecting an overall cost savings of $10,000 per block.

As Winter explained, if the city had selected the lower cost asphalt, two major maintenance projects — mill and overlays to the asphalt — would be required, adding another $40,000 per block to the initial cost.

“If I get any pushback from residents, it’s that we are building more of a street than we need,” Jones said. But once we explain the difference in what’s required to maintain an asphalt street vs. a concrete street, in both terms of work and cost, they seem to understand.

It’s a matter of education, said Jones, adding, “Once they understand, they are generally supportive.”

The project cost totaled $3.07 million, including engineering fees. Roughly 20 percent of the cost will be assessed to property owners. The city purchased bonds to finance the remaining cost.

Project Dates

June 2017 –November 2017

Project details

  • Concrete depth: 6 inches with 6 inches of Class 5 Aggregate sub base and 6 inches of select granular borrow
  • Total project length: .85 miles
  • Total Concrete Placed: 3,632.5 cubic yards (CY), including concrete used for pavement, curb, gutter; another 684 CY for driveways and sidewalks


Owner: City of Pipestone
Project Lead: Travis Winter, Pipestone City Engineer of Bolton & Menk, Fairmont
Project Designers: Bolton & Menk, Fairmont, MN
Prime Contractor: Quam Construction Company, Willmar, MN
Concrete contractors: Hulstein Excavating, Edgerton, MN and Hisken Construction, Marshall, MN
Ready Mix Concrete Producer: Buffalo Ridge Concrete, Pipestone MN

Download the Pipestone Case Study.