We’re heading into that time of year again – the road building season in Minnesota.

The bad news:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, responsible for organizing road construction, faces a huge backlog of necessary paving and construction projects. If it looks like crews are continually resurfacing (in some areas), you’d be right.

Looking at the long-term transportation system of our state, say 50 years, we would realize: choosing a sustainable pavement is more profitable. Simply put, good roads cost less.

Now for the good news:

Highways in the Rochester area provide impressive examples of construction value and durability. We have an excellent 12 mile segment of US Highway 52 in Rochester, from the south junction of US Highway 63 (Broadway Ave S) to the north junction of Hwy 63 (75th St NW). It opened to traffic in 2005 and it’s one of MnDOT’s pride and joy projects – and I’m sure drivers who travel around Rochester appreciate it too.

And here’s a good reason why: It’s paved with concrete and is expected to last 25 years before a major repair (read: driver frustration with road construction) is needed.

Not only does the use of a concrete pavement save millions of dollars in inflationary costs, it also saves millions more by avoiding future right-of-way acquisitions and reducing administrative costs. Not to mention the time and aggravation of drivers, and the value of your time wasted in traffic jams. If road maintenance is required less frequently, it saves our road crews and travelers from potentially dangerous situations.

The Highway 52 project in Rochester, which used concrete for the paving of the roads, means less hassle and construction stress. And the causeway now looks a lot like it was when it was built. There are very few problems with the pavement after 15 years, and it should easily last 50 years.

More good news:

Currently, concrete paving crews are moving US Highway 14 from Owatonna to Dodge Center and completing the four-lane connection between Rochester and Mankato. This road will not need repairs for 35 years – much longer than other roads, which is good for everyone.

Improving the road network through investments in concrete will meet Rochester’s traffic needs in the 21st century.

Matt Zeller is the executive director of the Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota.

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