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Contractor: Hwy 10 work went better than expected

Construction has ended for the season, but contractors already have work ready as soon as they can begin next spring.

"We worked as late as physically possible. The cold weather was forcing us to cease some operations, and the snow was definitely the end of the earthmoving for us," Hoffman Construction Project Manager Chad Johnson said last week.

Designed as a three-year project, Hoffman Construction, of Black River Falls, Wis., found areas to accelerate the project to have it done in two years -- and paving Highway 10 early was the key. Getting the traffic onto the highway quicker would alleviate traffic in other areas and allow construction crews to work on other stages of the project.

When Hoffman suggested -- or suggests changes throughout the project -- accelerations, the Minnesota Department of Transportation studies and inspects the proposals to determine the affects on the public, traffic and other areas of the construction. Johnson assures the quality of work isn't affected by the acceleration.

Part of the reason those accelerations could happen were crews that worked 10-12-hour days throughout the season to "put forth more of an effort."

Overall, the 2007 construction season went well. Maybe even better than well.

"I have been involved with construction since 1994, and I cannot remember a season with fewer rain days then the 2007 season," Johnson said.

With most of the summer's rain falling at night or on the weekends, it didn't really affect construction until October. He said October was a bit frustrating for asphalt paving purposes, but overall the weather was excellent.

Now that snow covers the area, Johnson said he "envisioned" a blanket of snow on the area to see what needed to be changed for the winter hiatus. Before leaving town last week, crews added safety fence in some locations and "moved materials away from traffic."

"The main thing for us is to be able to show up in the spring and be able to go right to work without having to clean up any of this season's messes," he added.

Weather permitting, crews plan to return April 15 to kick off the construction season. And if there's unseasonably warm weather earlier, they'll be here as soon as possible.

Next year there will be monthly public meetings at city hall as there was this year. Johnson said the public seemed to be appreciative of the consistent communication on the project.

"Hoffman was impressed with how Detroit Lakes treated us and cooperated throughout the project," he said. "I was a pleasure to work here, and I am looking forward to coming back."