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Mn/DOT receives Highways for LIFE grant

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New federal money could cut construction timeline on Highway 36 project

Minnesota was one of three states to receive a $1 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) new “Highways for LIFE” program. The grant money is currently being used for the reconstruction of Highway 36 between White Bear Avenue and Century Avenue (Highway 120) in North St. Paul.

The new FHWA program was part of transportation legislation passed in 2005. It encourages states to use innovative technologies, manufacturing processes, or contracting methods and practices to accelerate construction while at the same time improve safety, improve highway quality, and helpreduce congestion.

The $27 million Highway 36 reconstruction project currently under way is employing an innovative contract method that completely closes about 2 miles of Highway 36 for up to 5 months.

“Mn/DOT has not fully closed a major freeway for construction for many years,” explained Chris Roy, Mn/DOT Metro District NorthArea Manager. “Not having to work around traffic will allow us to complete work 60-75% faster, reduce construction costs, and minimize safety hazards.”

That message echoed the remarks made by FHWA Administrator Richard Capka (right) during his keynote address at the Geosynthetics-2007 Conference and Trade Show in January in Washington, D.C.

The roadway has been closed since mid-April, then will reopen to one lane in mid-September until completion in June 2008. When completed, the project will include a new diamond interchange at McKnight Road, a new overpass at Margaret Street, a pedestrian bridge and a tunnel for the Gateway Trail. The work also will eliminate 6 at-grade intersections, build auxiliary lanes for portions of east- and west-bound Highway 36, and will add a frontage road.

Eight states applied for the grants, and Iowa and South Carolina joined Minnesota in receiving the first HfL awards.

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