Category Cities in action

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, which was specified for the project from the start, 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 and was awarded the contract in May of 2017. 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 Designers

Stantec Consultants, Rochester, MN

Project Manager: Joseph Palen

Prime Contractor:

Ulland Brothers Inc. Albert Lea, MN

Concrete Contractor:

Hoffman Concrete Mankato, MN

Ready Mix Concrete Producer


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

The blog post was written by Jim Schill, Lime Valley Advertising, Mankato.

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.

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.