The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 21, 2013

Repairs to ruts, roads underway

By Mark Fischenich
The Mankato Free Press

---- — Q: I have noticed deep, muddy ruts along sidewalks that were plowed by, I assume, the city. I have seen them quite a few places, including in my neighborhood along Hoffman Road. The grass is gone and the ruts are deep -- deep enough for someone to break an ankle if he stepped wrong. Who will repair this damage?

A: "We just had that conversation this morning," Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said when asked about the ruts last Thursday. "... That's another thing we can blame on the never-ending winter."

Walks cleared by the city -- and there are a lot of them -- are plowed by small tractors and pick-ups. Occasionally, the drivers will get a bit too far to the left or right, and the wheels of the tractor or pick-up go off the concrete or asphalt path, Hentges said. Typically, that doesn't cause much damage because the ground is frozen solid when snow is being plowed. But with the large snowfalls that occurred late this spring, the ground was already thawed and the weight of the heavy vehicles sunk their wheels deep into the soft ground when they strayed from the path.

"They're working on it," Hentges said of the repairs. Maintenance crews are scrambling, though, because the long winter left them running behind on normal spring-time chores such as cleaning up pea-rock used in pothole repairs, opening up city parks and other annual projects. Plus, availability of black dirt and sod for the repairs was also delayed by the wintry weather in April and early May.

"We're a good month to month-and-a-half behind," he said.

Q: It was noted in The Free Press that MnDOT is currently repairing some concrete panels near the new Highway 14/Blue Earth County Road 12 intersection. Is this repair contract also going to address the approximately 300 feet of eastbound Highway 14 near County Road 17 in Eagle Lake? This section of concrete/asphalt is a driving hazard. Wouldn't doing a permanent concrete repair on this short section rather than an asphalt Band-Aid make sense at this time?

A: That wasn't an option, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, because the concrete work being done at the interchange isn't a new contract -- it's a contractor making good on a mistake from last year.

"The concrete repairs at CR12 are being done at the interchange contractor's expense due to damage they created by moving heavy equipment across the road during construction operations last summer," wrote MnDOT project control delivery manager Chad Fowlds in response to the question.

Work to the east on Highway 14 will have to wait until conditions have deteriorated to the point where a large contract to repair the entire segment of road is cost-effective, according to Fowlds. In the interim, MnDOT maintenance crews will need to handle temporary repairs necessary to keep the segment drivable.

Contact Ask Us at The Free Press, P.O Box 3287, Mankato, MN 56002. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or email your question to; put Ask Us in the subject line.