Every year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation hands out Merit Awards to local government units for what are deemed to be the best projects in several categories. The Wright County Highway Department has been informed that it is receiving a Merit Award for outstanding work on the CSAH 8 project (from Maple Lake to Hasty) in the County/Municipal Rural State Aid Resurface category.
Wright County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said very few awards are given – the last time Wright County won a MnDOT paving award was in 2014 – which makes being singled out an achievement. The CSAH 8 project was the only winner in 2020 in the County/Municipal Rural State Aid Resurface category.
“There are a ton of criteria – very specific criteria – including the pavement density incentive, ride incentive, ride-ability paving joints, general appearance, design compliance, project complexity and conformance to contract requirements,” Hawkins said. “Right after the projects are paved, smoothness testing is done to determine how well the pavement rides. It’s got to meet all the required specifications and there are performance criteria that each project is evaluated on.”
Hawkins said the Wright County Highway Department takes pride in its road system, which includes 512 miles of paved roads. However, they don’t anticipate winning awards, which makes being recognized a significant achievement.
“We like to think our road system is as good as any in the state,” Hawkins said. “We’ve worked hard to build up our system and maintain it as best we can. To get an award like this is gratifying because it’s always nice to be recognized by your peers.”