Minneapolis — Minnesota Department of Transportation officials are taking what they call an innovative approach to an upcoming Highway 27 improvement project in western Minnesota.
A 16.3-mile stretch of the road from Highway 11 to Highway 55 in Grant County will be upgraded using cold-in-place recycling, designed to increase the pavement’s life while taking it easy on the environment.
Central Specialties Inc., Alexandria, Minn., submitted the apparent low bid of $5.16 million for the project, edging four competitors. MnDOT’s estimate for the federally paid project was $5.6 million.
Cold-in-place recycling typically is used on roads in poor condition, according to Graig Gilbertson, MnDOT’s District 4 materials engineer.
The process involves recycling and reusing bituminous pavement at the project site instead of hauling it to a gravel pit and reheating it as a conventional hot mix.
Crews replace several inches of poor pavement with a pavement that has a different consistency, Gilbertson said. They mix the bituminous with an oil, put it back down, and pave conventional bituminous over the top.
The Highway 27 project was a good candidate for cold-in-place recycling because the pavement is well below acceptable standards, Gilbertson said. “We need a pretty severe fix.”
From an environmental perspective, CIR has some benefits because the pavement is recycled at the project site.
“You don’t use as much fuel,” Gilbertson said. “You don’t have to haul the bituminous away, put it in a pit, and reheat it. … It keeps the asphalt on the road, not in our lakes or on our lawns.”
CIR was thought to be potentially useful on low-volume roads with a low percentage of truck traffic, according to a Federal Highway Administration review.
The paving method has the potential to become more common on high-volume roads, Gilbertson said. He said CIR is cheaper than conventional paving, and MnDOT officials want to learn more about cost questions from the Highway 27 project.
In any case, the project is good news for Grant County residents.
The roadway is less prone to flooding than some other roads in the area, and it’s a key commercial trucking corridor that connects to rail lines, according to Logan Hagen, a county engineer.
“It’s a very important road to the southern portion of our county,” Hagan said.
Construction is expected to begin in July and wrap up in September if the weather cooperates, Gilbertson said.