When the winter season comes to an end, another season begins in Minnesota – road construction. Throughout the state improvement projects are conducted on roadways and bridges in an effort to update that infrastructure to ensure it is safe for traffic.

Redwood County is no exception, and this past Tuesday the Redwood County Board of Commissioners officially approved the plan that will include the projects for 2017. As part of what is known as the highway and bridge construction five-year plan, the county board determines what work needs to be done based on the recommendation of Willy Rabenberg, county engineer.

Each year that plan is reviewed as new projects come up and funding becomes available. According to Rabenberg, there are a few projects on the docket for 2017 including:

• The bituminous paving of CSAH 8 approximately 1.25 miles north of TH14 near Tracy. A realignment of a curve on that section of county roadway took place in 2016, and now the paving of that stretch is scheduled to be done in 2017. The estimated cost for the work is $250,000. 

• A resurfacing of CSAH 17 from TH19 west of Redwood Falls to CSAH 25, with an estimated cost of $400,000.

• A resurfacing of CSAH 25 from CSAH 17 to CSAH 101, which has an estimated cost of $500,000. • The replacement of three bridges, including one over Sleepy Eye Creek, one over Echo Creek and one over Wabasha Creek, with an estimated cost of $860,000.

• The reconstruction of CSAH 102, 2 and 3 in the City of Morgan in conjunction with a major infrastructure project the city is conducting. This project has an estimated cost of $3.3 million.

• Several miles of seal coating will also be done in the coming months, with an estimated cost of $250,000.

In total, the county is planning to expend approximately $5.56 million in 2017 for construction projects. The majority of that funding comes from what is known as the Minnesota highway users tax distribution fund (gas tax dollars), but in some years the county also receives funding for projects as a result of state bonding as well as from federal gas tax dollars.

There are many who are hopeful the 2017 session results in a bonding bill to help fund other projects, but as of this March 8, Rabenberg had not heard of any such progress coming out of St. Paul. Rabenberg said if bonding dollars would become available, the county has a long list of projects, especially bridges ready to be done.

“We have several bridges on the list that are ready to go,” he said.

One bridge in particular, the CSAH 101 bridge over the Minnesota River, is a project the county highway department has been working to secure funding for since 2010.

That work has an estimated cost of $3 million, said Rabenberg, adding the costs would be split between Redwood and Renville counties.

“That would be a two-year project,” he said.

Rabenberg said this should be a pretty busy construction season in Redwood County, and the public will be notified in advance regarding when any work will be done in their area. Those who work in road and bridge construction are always hopeful for added funding, as there is continually work that needs to be done.

Rabenberg said he supports an increase in the gas tax to help with infrastructure demand, as do most county highway engineers. Until that time, the highway department will continue to do as much work as it can from one year to the next helping to ensure the public is safe.