I was excited last week when I saw this sentence on the reconstruction information page for 320th Street (Dakota CR 96): “This project will construct a two-lane highway with paved shoulders.” That 320th Street — the far-north border of the City of Northfield — is being paved is good news for drivers, who will now be able access the Cedar Ave (CSAH 23) route from Highway 3, but paved shoulders are always good news for cyclists.
I was curious about the cost of these shoulders, so I e-mailed Tom Anton, an engineer for Dakota County. He wrote:
The difference between paving 6’ shoulders on both sides versus gravel shoulders is probably $25,000 to $30,000 per mile. A project like County Road 96 could total $1,000,000 per mile, so paving the shoulders doesn’t add much cost. In addition, having paved shoulders decreases our future maintenance costs; less time blading the shoulder, adding material, and maintaining the pavement edge.
$25,000! Two and a half percent! There have been multiple deadly accidents with bicyclists in Rice County because of unpaved shoulders to save, apparently, two and a half percent
In any case, thumbs up to Dakota County. Construction begins on the 320th Street project this fall.