Haines Road project wins state award
2/7/2014 9:41 AM
As the largest individual road construction project ever completed by St. Louis County Public Works, Haines Road has received a lot of attention. Recently it won the praise of the Minnesota County Engineers Association (MCEA), which named it 2013 project of the year.
It wasn't the project's size that resulted in the award, but rather the creativity and resourcefulness of those working on it. The honor is given to the project that best demonstrates design innovation, noteworthy accomplishments under adverse conditions, community involvement and environmental and historical considerations.
Tuesday, St. Louis County Commissioners recognized the more than two dozen Public Works employees, as well as other key partners who contributed to the successful completion of Haines Road.
In the photo above, employees and commissioners display the large plaque that will be permanently mounted near the underpass on Haines that provides safe crossing for hikers, mountain bikes, snowmobilers and more.
Public Works Director Jim Foldesi, (second from right in the front row of the photo above) provided a look back at the project's history - how plans started in 2005, were quickly modified following the flood, and then continued to be modified as needed as unexpected obstacles - such as a lot more dirt and less rock than expected- were overcome once construction started. You can view the Power Point presentation, which includes numerous before, during and after photos, here
Foldesi also expressed his thanks to the many partners that made successful completion of this award-winning project possible. Below is the text of his speech:
"It is my distinct pleasure today to announce that St. Louis County’s Haines Road reconstruction project was selected as the Minnesota County Engineer’s Association’s 2013 Project of the Year.
This award is especially meaningful because it is an award that is selected by our peers and represents the best in project engineering among the projects managed by the 87 counties in the State of Minnesota. It is something that we can truly be proud of. Typically, the project that is selected best demonstrates design innovation, noteworthy accomplishments under adverse conditions, community involvement and environmental and historical considerations.
As you can see by the number of people in the room, it truly does take a team to deliver a project of this size. This team not only consists of people inside our organization here at St. Louis County, but many others as well. In order to properly and publicly recognize and thank these individuals, a number of which are not here today, I would like to give a quick history that recognizes these individuals and their roles.
This will be followed by a power point presentation of the project and then, most importantly, recognizing the individuals here today.
Over 12 years ago, we recognized that Haines Road had outlived its useful life. It had a great number of deficiencies, as you will see in a minute.
As normal, we programmed it into our Capitol Improvement Plan and decided to pursue federal funding. We asked Congressman Oberstar, at the time, to see if we could get HPP (High Priority Project) funds designated to the project (the dreaded earmarks). As usual, the Congressman delivered and under SAFETEA-LU in 2005 HPP funds were designated to the Haines Road project. In the end, $4.4 million in HPP funds were designated, almost half of the project. Thank you Congressman Oberstar.
For a number of reasons, mostly funding, the project was scheduled for the 2013 and 2014 construction seasons as a two year project. But the best laid plans of mice and men fall by the wayside when you add a little water to the mix.
In June of 2012, we saw some of the worst flooding in Minnesota history. We had over 1,150 damage sites around the county to deal with, but the highest profile flood project was Haines Road. It had the highest traffic volumes and greatest inconvenience to the traveling public.
During this time, the Public Works Department really did shine. We used a very methodical, logical, managed approach to dealing with the flood damage, learning the ins and outs of emergency funding, designing emergency and permanent repairs, deciding if repairs should be done by our maintenance forces or by contract, and prioritizing the repairs. Really going about the business of recovery on $40 million worth of work, all while delivering a larger than normal regular CIP program.
But Haines Road was a different animal than the others. It did not make sense to spend emergency repair and permanent repair flood dollars to temporarily fix what we were planning to rebuild a year later. And so with help from Walter Leu our District One State Aid Engineer, David Scott (FHWA), Rick Kjonaas, Merry Daher, Lynnette Roshel from MNDOT State Aid, we came up with a plan to accelerate the delivery, shrink the construction time frame to one year and apply the FHWA-ER dollars to the reconstruction project. And even though this makes perfect common sense to apply these to the reconstruction project, in our bureaucratic world, it was no easy task. Special thanks to you.
In the design phase this project could not have been delivered without the help and cooperation of a lot of public input and project partners.
Under the accelerated design schedule, we needed help from our engineering consultant partners – LHB Engineers & Architects performed the retaining wall, storm sewer and pond designs and provided assistance during construction on these items. Special thanks to Bill Bennett, Joe Litman and Jon Siiter and their team.
Salo engineering performed the designs for Hermantown’s water and sewer improvements that were incorporated into the project.
Thanks to the DNR for quickly permitting the box culvert replacement and for granting a waiver to the trout restrictions for the Merritt Creek box culvert replacement in September of 2012. This allowed us to reduce the project to one construction season. Special thanks to Inga Foster, our Environmental Project Manager, for coming up with the idea to split this piece out and accelerate it. From idea to completion in 1.5 months.
Of course, during construction, things never go quite as planned.
I would like to thank Hammarlund Construction and all of their subcontractors for a great partnership during construction. They were able to roll with the punches as we had to make changes on the project. Congratulations on meeting a very demanding completion date.
Special thanks to Kristen Zschomler of the MNDOT Cultural Resources unit and SHPO for expediting the cultural resource reviews in the expanded slope areas.
Thanks to County Administration and this County Board for your support throughout this entire process. Your quick action at key times helped us keep this project on schedule, along with many other flood related projects. The trust you placed in all of us is greatly appreciated.
And thanks to all of you in this room who spent countless hours working on the project. You had to make personal sacrifices in time away from your families and hobbies to make the accelerated delivery possible and it is greatly appreciated. We are heading into year three (and hopefully the final summer) of flood recovery projects.