Stuck on I-94? Billboard taps into drivers’ frustration

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A concrete industry association is tweaking MnDOT for choosing asphalt over concrete (again) as the surface for Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.

A new billboard at I-94 near Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul declares, “Hey Asphalt, Concrete Lasts 3X Longer.”

I94.JPGThe ad targets what is an increasingly captive audience. A resurfacing project has squeezed the freeway, leading to frequent jams and giving motorists plenty of time to contemplate the trade group’s message.

The Portland Cement Association paid for the ad. In a press release, the group declares:

During the height of the summer travel season, drivers will experience delays along the I-94 corridor due to the third asphalt resurfacing in the last two decades. In what is an already congested artery in the Twin Cities, these delays will impact drivers during the July 4 holiday and beyond.

The Portland Cement Association (PCA), the voice of America’s cement and concrete industry, is running billboard ads informing the motoring public that choosing concrete instead of asphalt is the smart choice, dramatically decreasing construction time and congestion – in addition to the best use of taxpayer funds.

Concrete roads last an average of three times longer than asphalt. In Minnesota, asphalt roads need to be resurfaced approximately every 8 years, compared to concrete roads, which last an average of 25 years before requiring any maintenance. I-94 was just resurfaced in 2000 and 1993.

The asphalt industry isn’t letting the cement association’s salvo go unanswered. In a WCCO-TV story, the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association defends its namesake product.

Richard Wolters with the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association says the billboard doesn’t tell the truth.

“I don’t think it’s a fair representation for the taxpayers of Minnesota,” said Wolters.

Wolters says in Minnesota and nationally the highway system is 94 percent asphalt.

He says not only is hot-mix asphalt the best buy for the taxpayer its environmentally friendly.

Of course, asphalt prevailed in the I-94 resurfacing battle this time around. The two-year project is in full swing, with some real pain coming during a series of weekend closures during the next month.

Eastbound I-94 closes this weekend from Highway 280 to Western Avenue. MnDOT provides details on the upcoming closures:

* Eastbound I- 94: July 9-12 and July 23-26. Traffic will detour on Hwy 280, Hwy 36 and I-35E

* Westbound I-94: July 30- August 2 and August 6-9. Traffic will detour on I-35E, Hwy 36 and Hwy 280

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