BEMIDJI -- As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the state's department of transportation is planning to push ahead with keeping Minnesota's infrastructure in good condition.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will work on 188 road and bridge projects in 2020, with some of them having already started. This includes the northwest District 2, headquartered in Bemidji, where projects are planned for four areas.

"It is critical that MnDOT continue its work to maintain and improve our state's transportation infrastructure," said department Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. "A safe, reliable and multi-model transportation system is essential to keeping our state running in times of crisis. MnDOT construction projects will continue as scheduled and within the guidance set by state and federal health officials to prevent further spread of COVID-19."

Thief River Falls region

In the Thief River Falls area, MnDOT will be involved in several projects with city, county and water district units of government. The projects will mainly take place near State Highways 1 and 32, as well as U.S. Highway 59.

On Highway 1, three new roundabouts will be constructed, including one at the junction connecting to Highway 59. Additionally, the road will be resurfaced and a frontage road for the highway will be extended. The project is expected to run from June through September.

Another project on Highway 1 will be to resurface the road between State Highway 219 and Pennington County Highway 18. Estimated at $6.4 million, the work is expected to go from August through October 2020.

On State Highway 32, a project is planned to grade and resurface the road, extending into the city of St. Hilaire. Within the city limits, the project will also add sidewalks, pedestrian ramps, curbs and gutters. The project is scheduled from May through July and is estimated at $2.2 million.

A roundabout is also scheduled on Highway 32 at a cost of $1.56 million at the intersection of County Highway 16.

On Pennington County Highway 8, a project is planned to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Airport Road. Additionally, a new bridge will be built over the Red Lake River. Estimated at $5.77 million, the project will last most of the summer.

A new culvert will also be added along Highway 59 west of Thief River Falls to reduce flooding and improve drainage. The work is expected to be complete in September.

Other projects

Near the Canadian border, MnDOT is working in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to replace the Baudette International Bridge over the Rainy River. Expected to be finished this year, work remaining on the State Highway 72 bridge includes adding remaining girders, and construction of the bridge deck and barriers. The bridge as a whole is $39.3 million and the cost has been split between Minnesota and Ontario.

On U.S. Highway 2, MnDOT will grade and resurface the road near Bena from July through August. Additionally, the $8.1 million project will add a multi-use trail near Bena.

South of Laporte, MnDOT will reconstruct State Highway 200 and raise it, as well as install a new culvert. The work, intended to prevent road flooding, will last from June to September and cost $1.69 million.