There’s no easy route this summer. At every turn there’s a lane blocked by construction, a road closed, pavement torn up. Are you stewing as you’re stalled in traffic? Cursing as you arrive late to an appointment?
Maybe considering the long view will make it more tolerable. For every detour there’s some kind of upgrade underway. Your tax dollars and utility payments are at work as people working long, hard days in the hot sun are making needed repairs. They’re fixing or replacing the lines that deliver your gas and water, the pipes that take away your sewage and drain the roads. At corners they’re installing ramps and signals much easier to navigate in a wheelchair, on a bike, or with a stroller. They’re making roads fit to travel.
18th Avenue NE
All of those kinds of projects might be going on right in front of your house, if you live on 18th Avenue NE, one of the biggest projects in Northeast this summer. The road reconstruction from Monroe Street to Johnson Street, and construction of a bike and pedestrian path on the south side of the street, is overall on target schedule-wise, according to Beverly Warmka, the city’s project manager. The project web site says that the project is expected to be substantially complete in November 2017, with some work to be done in 2018.
Projects like this involve coordinating the pavement work with sewer, gas, and water crews, all while trying to minimize any inconveniences and communicate to residents. There have been some adjustments to the order of the streets worked on, and work plans can change daily, Warmka said. Residents are being notified of street and alley access restrictions by letter. “We appreciate the patience of the people in the neighborhood during this project,” she said.
According to a July 20 update posted on the city’s web page for the project, concrete has been removed up to and including the Fillmore Street intersection; next is from Monroe eastward toward Central. Sewer crews installing new pipe are working along the same trajectory. In early August the Water Department will put a new roof on a water chamber at the Lincoln Street intersection.
New American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant signals and sidewalk ramps are being installed on Central Ave NE at 14th, 20th, 22nd and 27th avenues; and on University Avenue NE at 13th, 17th, and 20th avenues. The work is a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) project; the City of Minneapolis is responsible for installing the signals, once the bases and wiring connecting the signals have been laid and ramp corners completed, said Dave Aeikens, the MnDOT contact person for the project.
In addition to dug-up curbs and streets, the project involves digging trenches for wiring connecting signals from one intersection to another. On Central Avenue, the ramp and signal installations are following behind Centerpoint Energy’s work putting in new natural gas mains and service lines, Aeikens said.
Waite Park neighborhood
As the Northeaster reported in May, Centerpoint Energy is in the process of replacing gas mains from Taylor Street NE to Lincoln Street NE between 31st and 36th avenues, and on Cleveland, Benjamin, and McKinley streets between 29th and 36th, as well as on 36th Avenue NE from Taylor to Johnson and Cleveland to Stinson.
On the east group of those streets (Cleveland, Benjamin, and McKinley), they’re finished with Phases 1 and 2 – laying the gas main and installing the residential service lines. On the west group of streets (Taylor through Lincoln) they’re done with the mains and are in the process of connecting service lines. Phase 3, restoration of lawns and sidewalks, will likely take place “after the city does its work,” said Hannah Gullickson, a Centerpoint communications specialist.
The street work she referred to is concrete repair on the streets. That will be starting the week of August 7 or 14 and running through October, explained Minneapolis project manager Ole Mersinger. There will be a public open house on the project on Wednesday, August 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Waite Park Recreation Center.
The work will be on Taylor through Lincoln from 31st Avenue NE to 35th, and from Cleveland through McKinley from St. Anthony Parkway to 37th Avenue NE. 36th, part of 35th, 34th and 32nd avenues in that stretch will also be repaired, as will be the eastern portion of 31st and 30th. Mersinger said that most of the eastern part of work will be done this year, and part of the western portion.
The basic concrete repair should be done by October, and then there will be a diamond grind resurfacing and sealing happening for the rest of the fall. He said the contractor will be doing a few blocks at a time and then moving on. “It won’t look very pretty while they’re doing it, but they should move through pretty quickly,” Mersinger said.
The project web page says that they expect about 25 percent of the pavement to be replaced, and Mersinger said that the process is fluid. They don’t know exactly the extent of repair needed until they start working on the street.
Mersinger also said that some manholes and catch basins are being repaired in advance of the work; the temporary roadway patches placed after that work will be fixed as part of the concrete repairs.
In that same neighborhood, in addition to the concrete rehab work, old sewer pipes are being lined with “cured-in-place pipe” (CIPP) on certain streets. CIPP is an effective and convenient alternative to the traditional method of replacing the sewer pipes, and it does not require digging up the streets, said Kevin Danen, contact person for Minneapolis’s CIPP program.
That’s a good thing, because much of the sanitary and storm sewers are in need of repair. “Over three-quarters of our system is 80 years old or older, so it’s getting to the point where we’re getting to the end of the life for a lot of sewer pipe that’s out there,” Danen said.
He said the lining, which is cured in place with steam, can extend the life of the sewer pipe by another 50 years. Since the insertion of the lining is done through manholes, the workers can be in and out of a site in as little as a day if all goes smoothly.
In some cases, though, the old sewer pipe has deteriorated too much and needs to be replaced. That was the case on Washington Street NE and 22nd Avenue, so excavation was needed, Danen said. He said they should be wrapping work up at that site by August 4.
37th Avenue Northeast
On 37th Avenue NE from Silver Lake Road to Stinson Boulevard, new 6-foot sidewalks and curbs, ADA compliant corners and signals, and retaining walls are being installed. The project was initiated and is being managed by St. Anthony Village; and funded through federal funds, and contributions from Ramsey County, Columbia Heights, New Brighton, and Roseville, said Justin Messner, project manager and principal at WSB, St. Anthony’s contracted engineering firm.
The new sidewalks include a red-colored concrete strip along the curb rather than a narrow stretch of grass that would be hard to keep weed-free, Messner said. The red is a safety feature, clearly demarcating the sidewalk and the roadway.
Messner said that concrete work is almost complete, the retaining walls are in, and they hope to have the work done on the signals by the time school starts in September. The eastbound lane of 37th will continue to be closed until the signals are done on that side of the street; then the crews will switch sides, and the westbound lane will be closed.
Water main lining is what’s slowing traffic on Lowry Avenue NE between Marshall Street and 5th Street, according to Bob Ervin, senior professional engineer with the Minneapolis Water Department. We can expect delays there through November. Ervin said they had hoped to wait until the time came for the county to repave and re-work the road but decided the maintenance needed to be done sooner.
The project involves digging up access points at intersections in the westbound lane of Lowry, drying out the main completely, and inserting the liner from block to block. A temporary water source and lines are set up for the businesses and residences, Ervin said. He also said there might be times of inactivity at the site, but that doesn’t mean the city has forgotten about the project. It’s related to juggling the timing of the excavation work done by the city with the schedule of the contractor doing the actual lining.
Columbia Heights projects
New sidewalks, a wider boulevard, and LED streetlights are going in on Central Avenue from 47th Avenue NE to 51st Avenue NE in Columbia Heights, funded by MNDOT, according to Kevin Hansen, city engineer and public works director. The installation won’t affect driving, just parking and pedestrians, Hansen said.
Also in Columbia Heights, the design is finished and bids are being accepted for street rehab and utility work on 39th Ave between Central Avenue and Huset Parkway, and on 40th between Central and Reservoir Boulevard On 39th Avenue, new sidewalks will be installed.
At Circle Terrace Park, construction on a new multi-purpose, 1,200-square-foot building will start on August 7. The building will include a large meeting room as well as a patio overlook, Hansen said.
All the projects should be completed by mid-November, he said.
Mark Peterson contributed to this article.
Below: Gas lines will run through these large steel pipes parked off of Central Avenue at 27th Avenue recently. (Photo by Mark Peterson) On 37th Avenue in St. Anthony, sidewalks are being installed between the Silver Lake Road intersection and Wilshire Park School. Retaining walls separate the yards from the sidewalks. (Photo by Alex Schlee)