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MnDOT wins award for saving money

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has won a regional award for saving money on the Interstate 694 North Central project.

The award was given by The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The project, recognized in the Under Budget category, was acknowledged for delivering value for transportation dollars.

This is the second year in a row that AASHTO recognized a MnDOT project for being under budget.

In 2013, the agency received an award for the Highway 169/I-494 interchange project, which saved $25 million to $40 million in construction costs while meeting more than 90 percent of motorists’ needs.

“Projects nominated in this category are making communities stronger, our economy more efficient, and our quality of life better,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director.

The I-694 project, on the second busiest corridor in the Twin Cities Metro area, accomplished 85 percent of the objectives of the original, larger project at one-third the cost.

The original project cost was $143 million; the final project cost $42.6 million.

With only $20 million available to replace 1960-era bridges in the area, the MnDOT team redesigned the original plan to achieve savings in materials and labor.

The team reduced the number of lanes from eight to four; replaced aging pavement; and eliminated two bridges, including a lengthy flyover. MnDOT made the remaining dollars available through a fund set aside for capacity improvements.

“This project is a great example of how MnDOT is working to get the most of every dollar while delivering transportation solutions that meet the needs of a growing community and economy,” said Charlie Zelle, MnDOT commissioner.

The final project also produced safety improvements, reducing by half the crash rate from 2.3 crashes per million vehicle miles traveled, to 1.1 per million vehicle miles traveled — a rate typical for urban freeways.

Completed in November 2013, the project has yielded several economic benefits, including business development in the area.

That includes the new 100-acre New Brighton Exchange, a mixed-use development, and Ramsey County’s plans to clean up the Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant. The long-idle 427-acre parcel of land is slated for a mixed home and business development to begin in 2015.

In addition, the project team developed contracts that helped keep project costs competitive and provided new opportunities for disadvantaged business enterprises.

The project delivers a more efficient system that manages expected traffic volumes without overbuilding.

The less costly project also increases traffic flow and reliable travel times for buses. Because the project increased capacity from one to two continuous lanes in the project area, MnDOT expects congestion relief of as much as 50 percent.

Learn more about all of the nominated projects and the competition at