Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Highway 59 culvert replacement project begins Sept. 2





DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Motorists on Highway 59 between Callaway and Mahnomen will experience lane closures and delays starting Tuesday, Sept. 2, during a culvert replacement project.

Traffic will be reduced to a single lane while work is in progress. The project is expected to take up to three weeks.

Crews will use a temporary signal to allow one lane of traffic to move through the work zone at a time. 

Gladen Construction of Laporte is the prime contractor for this project.

This culvert project helps ensure MnDOT’s transportation system will continue to serve the state for many years.

The project is separate from the Highway 59 paving work between Detroit Lakes and the Buffalo River north of Callaway, which will also extend through mid-September.

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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MDA launches campaign to “Protect Minnesota Pollinators”





ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) launched a new public awareness campaign to protect pollinating insects in yards and gardens, along roadsides and on farms.

Protect Minnesota Pollinators is designed to help the public understand the importance of insect pollinators, not only to our food chain, but also to a healthy environment overall. Pollinator populations, including bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, beetles, moths, etc., are threatened by significant stresses that include a loss of habitat for nesting and foraging, pesticide use, parasites and disease, and other factors.

“Insect pollinators are in trouble and their populations are declining,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, who announced the campaign in the Agriculture/Horticulture Building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds today. “More than one third of all plants or plant products that we consume are directly or indirectly dependent on insects for pollination, and a decline in pollinators negatively affects us all,” Frederickson said.

The MDA has developed Best Management Practices (BMPs) which urge farmers, landowners and homeowners to “look at our landscapes differently” by reducing negative impacts of pesticides, improving existing landscapes and creating new habitat. BMPs have been developed for yards and gardens, as well as agricultural landscapes; BMPs for roadsides are currently under development.

“It isn’t like Minnesotans to not take action,” said Frederickson. “Whether you live in the city, on a farm, or manage a roadside – we all have a part to play in protecting insect pollinators.”

Over the twelve days of the State Fair, attendees are invited to stop by the MDA booth in the Ag/Hort building and make a Pollinator Promise to help protect pollinators through their individual actions, and then share their stories through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, using #MNpollinatorhero to inspire others to take action.

Possible pollinator promise steps could include:

·         Plant more flowers in my yard or on my balcony
·         Let early dandelions flower – they have nectar!
·         Leave areas of my lawn un-mowed
·         Reduce pesticide use
·         Find pollinator protection info on pesticide labels
·         Set out water bowls and birdbaths for pollinators to drink
·         Let clover grow and flower
·         Start a beehive
·         Spread the word about pollinators – be a #MNpollinatorhero!

Find the MDA on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @MNagriculture

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.”