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Paynesville Press - April 10, 2002

Highway 55 to Eden Valley to be resurfaced this summer

By Michael Jacobson

Resurfacing Highway 55 from Lake Koronis to Eden Valley is one of nearly 250 state highway projects scheduled for this summer.

The 2002 construction season has 246 projects scheduled statewide. "This represents the largest road construction program in state history," said Elwyn Tinklenberg, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Commissioner.

The concrete surface on Highway 55 for approximately seven miles (between Lake Koronis on the border of Meeker County to Highway 22 in Eden Valley) will be rehabilitated, starting in mid-July. The project should take around eight weeks, according to MnDOT, and last until early September.

During the work, traffic will be detoured. From Paynesville going east, the detour will go: south on Highway 4, east on Co. Rd. 3, and north on Highway 22, connecting with 55 again in Eden Valley.

The project should cost $797,667.

Last summer, Highway 55 from Paynesville to the five-mile bridge by Lake Koronis was resurfaced.

Despite the enormity of the highway construction projects this summer, the state is not keeping up with the demands on its transportation system, according to Tinklenberg. Since 1990, the number of vehicle miles traveled in the state has increased by more than 33 percent, while the state has added less than two percent of roadway miles.

"Clearly, demand is greatly exceeding capacity," he said.

The 246 projects this summer will cost nearly $1 billion - about $499 in federal funds and $494 in state funding.

Minnesota is fortunate to receive more in federal highway construction dollars than the state sends to Washington, D.C., according to Tinklenberg. Since 1990, Minnesota has received an average of $1.10 in federal funds for every $1.00 sent.

For transit, though, Minnesota receives only 76 for every $1 sent.

New work zone laws
Under a new state law enacted last summer, a work zone is defined as a roadway construction site when workers are present. Drivers will see new "FINES DOUBLE" signs to indicate when they are approaching a work zone.

Previously, the speed limit in all work zones was a maximum of 40 mph, but under the new law, the speed limit on a divided highway is up to 15 mph below the normal posted speed.

"There are an average of 2,400 crashes in work zones every year in Minnesota," said Tinklenberg. "Most are caused by two factors: speed and driver inattention."

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