Highway 14 project off to a smooth start
Highway 14 is being resurfaced, and this time it is being resurfaced with concrete.
U.S. 14 is one of the original United States highways of 1926. An east and west route, was known as the “Black and Yellow Trail,” so named as it connected Minnesota with the Black Hills and Yellowstone National Park; and it was among of the first roads paved with concrete.
The first concrete highways were constructed in 1913, shortly after the introduction of the Model T Ford, and a few concrete paved roads were built in the 1920s. Significant technical and design developments during the 1930s and 1940s made concrete paving faster, less expensive, and more durable.
Concrete can support heavy loads, such as truck traffic, with less deformation than asphalt. Although the initial cost of concrete used to be higher than for asphalt, today concrete has become the least expensive alternative for new construction on a first-cost basis in addition to maintenance costs being generally lower. In addition, concrete generally has a useful life of twice that of asphalt. Concrete commonly serves 20 to 30 years without needing major repair, while asphalt typically lasts only eight to 12 years before resurfacing or significant repair is required.
The dates of major pavement projects and project type for Highway 14 from the east edge of Springfield to just before the railroad bridge by Cobden, according to Dan Swanson, Minnesota Department of Transportation project engineer, are as follows: Original grading and paving of the 20-foot-wide concrete road was done in 1931. In 1969, it was given a bituminous (asphalt) overlay. In 1983, the bituminous was milled (removed) and the road was overlaid and pavement widened. In 1998, it was again given a bituminous overlay.
PCiRoads LLC, a highway/heavy construction company in St. Michael, specializing in roads, bridges, specialty infrastructure and metal fabrication, has the contract for $6,641,276. The project includes a concrete overlay and shoulder work.
R&E Enterprises of Mankato is doing the milling (removing) four inches of asphalt for the reconstruction project. They remove and stack the reclaimed materials away from the job site with their fleet of apron and belly dump trucks.
PCiRoads has set up a mobile concrete batch plant at Harvest Land Cooperative on the east edge of Springfield. The concrete is a mixture of cement, aggregate from the local Southern Minnesota Construction (SMC), and sand from Ground Zero Services, Courtland. The mobile batch plant mixes from 3,500 to 4,000 yards (six inches thick) of wet concrete each day. Twenty-five batch trucks deliver wet concrete to the paving crew.
“The crew normally paves one mile of highway a day,” according to John Kaste, project supervisor for PCiRoads. “That provides time enough for the crew to install pressure relief joints in a timely manner.” “If the paving gets too far ahead of the process of installing the pressure relief joints, there is the risk of cracking,” Kaste said. Pressure relief joints allow for movements caused by drying, shrinking, and temperature changes, and prevents cracking of the pavement. Expensive and irreversible damage caused by pavement stresses are reduced with pressure relief joints. The joints are saw cut and reinforced with rebar and dowel bars.
Fresh wet concrete does not normally bond well to existing dry concrete. “We leave a barrier of asphalt under the new concrete, so that if there are cracks in the existing concrete they don’t transfer up.”
Concrete can be poured when the temperature is from 50 to 90 degrees, Kaste said. Concrete can set too fast during extremely hot weather.
The hot and humid weather has been “tough on the guys,” Kaste said. Construction work and the progress of constructing, however, is “going good,” said Kaste.