Highway 55 construction begins this week

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 07/22/97.

Road construction is scheduled to start this week on 23 miles of Highway 55 from Brooten to Paynesville, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The $2 million highway improvement project is expected to last until early November.

The work consists of culvert replacements for better drainage of the roadway; construction of 18 right turn and/or bypass lanes throughout the corridor; a mill and overlay treatment of the driving lanes (grinding off old blacktop and replacing with new blacktop); a new layer of blacktop will be put on the shoulders; and mailbox supports installed with a safety approved swing-away design.

The highway improvements are designed to increase the safety of the roadway with the new turn and bypass lanes.

There could be several locations of two to three-mile lane restrictions throughout the project during daylight hours. Traffic flow will be regulated by flag persons. Contractor crews will be starting at the Brooten end of the project and work their way east towards Paynesville.

There will also be areas of gravel surface across both driving lanes due to the culvert replacement work; and portions of the roadway where motorists will be traveling on a milled surface. Drivers should be especially alert for these areas and slow down to accommodate the roadway conditions.

Motorists should exercise caution and an increased awareness of the driving conditions through this construction project as workers and equipment will be very close to the flow of traffic.

Work also started this week on sealcoating Highway 23 from Paynesville to New London. Motorists are cautioned to drive slower on the lose sandy surface.

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Between 1992 and 1996 there were 12,414 work zone crashes resulting in 60 fatalities; 5,928 injuries, 8,437 property damage accidents; and an estimated $233,584,000 in loss.

One of the 60 traffic fatalities during this period was a highway worker. This means that 98 percent of work zone traffic fatalities were drivers, passengers, pedestrians or bicyclists traveling through work zones.

If you are stopped for speeding in a work zone, the fines are double. An average $80 speeding citation will cost $160 if issued in a work zone. Double fines are enforced from signs warning of road work ahead until you pass safely through the work zone. The law is designed to protect the motorists and roadway workers.

To identify a work zone, watch for the orange cones or barrels, concrete barriers, narrowed roadways, vehicle with flashers or strobes, heavy equipment, traffic control devices, flaggers, surveyors, mowers or snowplows. Work zones can operate both day and night and can be moving or stationary. Be alert and use caution.

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