Monday, August 18, 2014

Highway 34 passing lane, intersection improvement project begins Aug. 25

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Motorists on Highway 34 east of Detroit Lakes will encounter lane closures and possible delays when work on a passing lane and intersection safety project begins Monday, Aug. 25.

Crews will construct an eastbound passing lane near Becker County Road 25 and make safety modifications to the intersection of Highway 34 and Becker County Road 29.

Flaggers will allow one-way, alternating traffic through the work zone. Drivers must obey the flagger, be prepared to stop and follow the pilot car through the work zone. Motorists entering from driveways or roads that intersect with Highway 34 within a work zone must wait for the pilot car to pass, then follow it through the work zone.

This season’s work is expected to be complete by mid-October, weather-permitting. Additional passing lanes and intersection improvements between Detroit Lakes and Akeley will be completed during the 2015 construction season.

More information about the project is available at www.mndot.gov/d4/projects/hwy34.

Anderson Brothers of Brainerd is the prime contractor for the $8 million project, which will improve the mobility along Highway 34 by reducing bottlenecks and improving the movement of freight through the highway corridor.

The work is part of the Corridors of Commerce initiative. The Highway 34 project is one of five projects set to break ground in 2014 as part of the program. The Corridors of Commerce program funds improvements to key business and freight routes in Minnesota. Additional information can be found online at www.mndot.gov/corridorsofcommerce/.
This project helps ensure MnDOT’s transportation system will continue to serve the state for many years.

MnDOT asks motorists to slow down and pay attention while driving through work zones. A new law that went into effect Aug. 1 raised the fine to $300 for motorists who speed through a work zone or who do not obey work zone flaggers’ traffic directions.

For real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or dial 5-1-1.

Temporary overnight detours on I-94 near 25th Street South this week

FARGO, N.D. (August 18, 2014) – Beginning Tuesday night, August 19, crews will be setting temporary overnight closures on  Interstate 94 (I-94), as they set bridge beams and build the canopy on the west edge of the existing 25th Street South bridge deck. During this phase of construction, sections of overnight traffic on I-94 will be rerouted over and around the work zone.  

 Motorists can expect the following:
  • Tuesday night, 8/19, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., westbound traffic on I-94 will be detoured over the top of the 25th Street Bridge and merge back on to I-94 from the northwest on-ramp.
  • Wednesday night, 8/20, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., I-94 eastbound traffic will be detoured around the 25th Street Bridge as crews remove the east edge of the existing bridge deck to accommodate the future widening of the bridge. Traffic will be detoured down 25th Street to 32nd Avenue South and then to University Drive where they will be able to merge back onto I-94. Motorists on 25th Street will not be able to use the eastbound loop ramp to access eastbound I-94.

These detours are needed to ensure the safety of the traveling public and crews that work on the project as the bridge deck is directly above I-94.  The NDDOT scheduled this work to occur overnight when traffic volumes are at their lowest to help minimize impacts to the traveling public. 

The NDDOT Fargo District encourages motorists to avoid distractions, obey flaggers and signs throughout the work zone and consider alternate routes if possible.

 These detours are expected to end by the morning of August 21.

DNR seeks designs for Minnesota’s 2015 pheasant stamp

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2015 Minnesota Pheasant Stamp from Monday,
Sept. 8, to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19.

The pheasant stamp is sold along with hunting and fishing licenses or as a collectable. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to pheasant management-related activities.

“We appreciate the talent and commitment of the artists who submit entries to the contest,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Their work is part of our hunting heritage, and valued by collectors.”

The contest offers no prizes and is open to Minnesota residents only. Artists are not allowed to use any photographic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds. Judging will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at DNR headquarters in St. Paul.

Artists who want to submit entries should closely read contest criteria and guidelines for submitting work, available from the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, and online at www.mndnr.gov/contests.

Applications open for $8 million in Conservation Partners grants

Groups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land can apply for Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grants that help pay for work on Minnesota prairies, forests, wetlands, or on habitat for fish and wildlife.

Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to submit applications now until 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at www.mndnr.gov/cpl.

Projects must be on public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements. Applicants may request up to $400,000 with a total project cost not exceeding $575,000. Projects must also have 10 percent of the funding come from a source outside a state agency.

Three types of CPL grants
In its first five years of funding, more than $21 million has been granted through the CPL program for habitat projects throughout Minnesota.

Three types of CPL grants available are under this year’s allocation of $8 million. Nearly $3.3 million is available for the traditional grant cycle and $1 million is available for the expedited conservation projects (ECP) grant cycle. ECP is open through May or until all funds are awarded. New this year is the metro grant cycle, in which $3.75 million is available for projects located in the seven-county metro area or within the city limits of Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester.

Information about the three grants can be found at www.mndnr.gov/cpl. Potential applicants are encouraged to review the request for proposals and the how to apply tab at the website, which guides users through the application process.
Questions can be directed to: Jessica Lee, DNR CPL grant program coordinator, jessica.lee@state.mn.us or 651-259-5233, or Kelly Pharis, DNR natural resource grants specialist, kelly.pharis@state.mn.us or 651-259-5174.

MnDOT night crews minimize impact to traveling public

ST. PAUL, Minn. – If you’re traveling down the highway some night, particularly in the Twin Cities area, you may notice brightly lit work zones and road crews in high-visibility clothing filling potholes, repairing guard rails, pouring concrete, you name it.

Doing some road construction and maintenance work at night is one way the Minnesota Department of Transportation is minimizing the impact to the traveling public and increasing motorist safety.

“Crews can sometimes work more efficiently at night when traffic volumes aren’t as high as during the day,” said Michael Beer, MnDOT Metro construction engineer. “Night time also is helpful for contractors to more efficiently get materials and equipment to and from a project in reduced traffic congestion.”

The Interstate 35W at 94th Street and Highway 100 projects in the Twin Cities involve bridge redecking work, which requires new concrete. Pouring concrete during cooler night temperatures prevents it from drying faster than it should and makes for a more durable, longer lasting deck, said Beer.

In Owatonna, another project requires night work so crews can place bridge beams on the newly constructed abutments of I-35. In this project, roads will be closed from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m.

Maintenance projects are also sometimes done at night. MnDOT employs several maintenance crews specifically to work night hours.

“Many corridors and routes are so heavily traveled that night time is the only time we can do the work safely,” said Greg Coughlin, MnDOT Metro director of operations and maintenance. “If we’re filling in potholes or repairing guard rails, we might have lane closures that we can’t get by with other than nights or on weekends. At night, we’re also not impacting communities and people’s daily business.”

Crews often get projects done faster at night because of fewer traffic interruptions.

Our lane closure policy limits windows of time on many corridors to do maintenance work. The 10-hour shifts are efficient since most night crews load up and go from site to site,” said Coughlin.

When a significant duration of night construction work is necessary, MnDOT sends a letter to people who live or work near the construction zone. The letter explains the construction activity, the expected noise levels, the duration of the work, and provides contact information. The letter is mailed, emailed or hand delivered to all residences and businesses within 500 feet of the work zone. Often, a news release or email alert is also issued.

Construction activities generally prohibited between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. include pile driving, concrete pavement removal, pavement sawing, concrete crushing and jack hammering. There are times, however, when noise-producing operations occur at night due to the need for pavement to be cured or sawed.

Coughlin said a risk of night work is the potential of drivers who are tired, distracted or under the influence.

“With less traffic on the road, drivers’ speeds can be greater,” Coughlin added. “Motorists should be cautious in work zones at night, slow down and be alert for crews working.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Highway 59, Becker County Road 22 intersection becomes four-way stop Aug. 12



DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Motorists traveling on Highway 59 between Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids will be required to stop at Becker County Road 22 beginning Tuesday, Aug. 12.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is converting the intersection from a two-way stop to a four-way stop to improve safety.

Crews will add pavement messages to Highway 59 and install new stop signs enhanced with flashing lights.
                                                                                                                             
In addition, temporary message boards will alert motorists to the change in advance of the intersection.

The four-way stop is an interim measure until permanent intersection improvements are completed in 2017. At that time, MnDOT will install a traffic signal system similar to the one at Highway 59 and Becker County Road 6.

For real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or dial 5-1-1.

Rydell trails reopened to the public



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rydell National Wildlife Refuge’s trails have been reopened to the public.  The trails were closed during most of July and into August due to a trail improvement project. Please be cautioned that portions of the trails are currently graveled.  These portions are sporadic and range in length.  The refuge is currently working to complete the trail improvement with asphalt overlay within the upcoming months.  While we go through this lengthy process, the trails are being reopened to the public.  Prior to the asphalt being laid, the trails will be closed for a short period of time to allow this process to be completed. Thank you for your patience as we continue to improve our trails for your enjoyment.  For any questions or concerns, please contact the Refuge Headquarters at (218)687-2229 ext. 16.