BEMIDJI – Call it a coincidence.
But Wednesday afternoon’s announcement from the Minnesota Department of Transportation that melting snow was causing flood-like conditions on State Highway 200 near Laporte came just hours after construction plans for another stretch of that very same road were revealed.
“We’re cutting the hill down and putting in correct slopes and correct drainage so we can keep water from crossing the highway and icing up,” said Todd Vonasek, resident engineer with MnDOT.
On Wednesday, MnDOT released a list of statewide projects to be completed this summer and fall.
Of the $1.1 billion in road projects, about $33.4 million will be spent in MnDOT’s District 2, which includes Bemidji, Crookston and Thief River Falls. There are 337 projects scheduled statewide.
Some of the biggest projects near Bemidji include resurfacing 12 miles of State Highway 89 between Highway 2 and Beltrami County Road 26 in September, and 10 miles of Highway 92 between Clearwater County Road 19 in Bagley to County Road 35 between July and October.
The most expensive repaving project near Bemidji, however, is the two-mile stretch of State Highway 200 between Highway 64 and Hubbard County Road 39, which includes replacing a culvert over the Kabekona Creek, which will cost $3.57 million.
That project is slated to begin in May and finish in August, and will include detours.
The department also plans on replacing two bridges on State Highway 1 east of Redby. Those two bridge replacements will cost about $5.5 million.
“(They’re) structurally deficient,” Vonasek said. “For safety reasons … we’ll replace those facilities and upgrade them.”
Road projects will occasionally mean detours and longer trips for drivers. A project list provided by MnDOT states that the two bridge projects as well as the Highway 92 and 200 resurfacing projects will result in detours.
But MnDOT officials Wednesday emphasized that there are benefits to these projects.
“And keep in mind, the reason we’re doing this is to support reliable transportation, quicker transportation and perhaps most importantly, safer transportation,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle in a broadcasted press conference. Zelle was in Bemidji Tuesday to visit the MnDOT office.
District 2 engineer Craig Collison also asked drivers be safe when driving around road construction this year.
“On the detours, you’re driving on county roads where people live and aren’t used to the traffic, so there’s a risk there,” Collison said. “But people need to pay attention going through the work zones.”
For a complete list of construction projects statewide, click here. The list for the Bemidji area starts on page two.