Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle and MnDOT engineers recently announced a list of 290 transportation construction projects that are getting underway this construction season.

Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle and MnDOT engineers recently announced a list of 290 transportation construction projects that are getting underway this construction season. They say that projects scheduled for this year will help preserve and maintain state highways, bridges and other transportation infrastructure.

According to a press release from Zelle’s office, while this year’s program provides some significant maintenance work for the state transportation system, MnDOT officials note that planning for future years indicates less revenue will be available under current funding levels, and much more work is needed to address the long-term challenges facing Minnesota’s transportation system.

Zelle noted that many of the projects in this year’s program will provide shorter term fixes, rather than long-term solutions. He argued that what is needed now, as state transportation funding faces future revenue shortfalls and growing needs, is a long-term vision for Minnesota’s transportation future.

The list of road construction projects includes only two major projects in our area: building a five-mile section of Highway 60 between Butterfield and Mt. Lake from two lanes to four lanes; and the four-lane expansion and by-pass on Highway 14 from Nicollet to North Mankato.

Of these jobs, Brent Kucera of Mathiowetz Construction Company (MCC) said, “We have been awarded the Mt. Lake Highway 60 job and will be starting the project shortly.” Kucera explained that the Nicollet Highway 14 project will be bid on May 15. The project will start in July and continue into next year.

“We have been researching this bid for months already. It will be very competitive…we are not guaranteed to get this,” he said. The project will include a bypass to the south of Nicollet with a bridge interchange and will connect with the west side of Mankato.

Kucera said that MCC’s biggest projects for these season include the Highway 60 project, work on Dakota County Road 64, located near Farmington and the two projects in Owatonna that are in their second year - on Highway 14 and on I-35.

Kucera added, “We are just getting started on projects…there is still frost in the ground so we need to be patient. We are also getting started on doing some smaller jobs for the local farmers before planting season starts - grove removals, tile work, driveways and things like that.”

Projects will continue to come along to be bid this spring. One that MCC is looking at is the New Ulm High School project that will include site preparation and excavation work, and surface finishing after the school is built.

This week MCC conducted a training exercise for several days in their gravel pit just north of St. James. They will use gravel and sand from the pit for the Highway 60 project. Because they needed to prepare the pit for use this spring it provided an opportunity for their new and existing employees to train on equipment in a controlled environment.

Kucera said they would have 40 employees cycling through the training program - working with key experienced operators as instructors. Equipment involved included dozers, blades, excavators, off-road trucks and loaders.