Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - September 17, 2003

Maintenance project nearly completed on Highway 55

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Maintenance work on Highway 55 - from Paynesville to Brooten - is nearly complete.

The overlay project was started in mid-August when a layer of water-soluble asphalt was put down, and granite gravel was placed on top of that to work its way into the asphalt. After the first layer was allowed to cure, loose gravel was swept up, and another coat of asphalt was applied on Monday, Sept. 8.

For the most part, the road is finished, said Bruce Batzer, owner of Astech Construction, the firm that did the overlayment project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). All that remains is for permanent lines to be painted, but that can't be done until the road has cured, probably within the next few weeks, he said.

Overlaying damaged roads in the state is a common and economical practice, said Batzer, and so is using granite aggregate, which meshes together and forms a tighter bond than pea rock when used in asphalt, he said.

What made the Highway 55 project different was the larger granite pieces that MnDOT chose to use because of the road's poor condition and traffic volume, said Batzer. The old surface was riddled with pop-outs, spots where small pieces of the old asphalt were missing, and even though the holes weren't readily noticable, the holes weakened the road and made it difficult to clear in the winter. The larger granite chips filled the holes and should last a long time, said Batzer.

Unfortunately, the larger granite chips hit some windshields and found their way into some tires. Punctured tires are not normally a hazard with pea rock.

Batzer said that he always expects some flat tires and broken windshields when roads are overlayed. In fact, his company carries insurance just for such damage, he said. Anyone with flat tires or broken windshields from the project should call Astech Construction at 320-363-8500.

Batzer said his company hasn't had any more complaints about damage than from similar projects.

The highway will continue to get smoother as it is driven on, and the gravel is packed into the asphalt, said Batzer. Eventually he believes drivers will like the new surface, and, over time, flying granite shards should become less of a problem.

The larger granite will also make the surface easier to keep clear of snow and ice, Batzer said.

According to MnDOT, no other overlayment projects are planned for next summer in this area.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community