Perpetual Pavement Award Section on I-35 Continues Long Life

Brandon Brever, P.E. – MAPA

In 2002 a section of I-35 was awarded a national Perpetual Pavement Award. This summer the same section of Interstate 35 from Willow River to Scanlon is undergoing full depth reclamation for nine miles on the north and southbound lanes to continue as a long life pavement. The section has been in service for 50 years from initial base construction followed by mill & overlays. Various innovative technology and construction techniques were used on this project to provide a long-lasting asphalt pavement for the traveling public.

History of this section

This section of roadway was awarded an Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA) perpetual pavement award in 2002. To qualify for this prestigious award, a pavement must meet strict criteria and demonstrate asphalt pavement’s long-life characteristics, excellence in design, quality in construction, and value to the traveling public. Originally constructed in 1966, this section of highway was built during a time when the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was changing its road construction techniques to include a deep-strength asphalt pavement.

The project in 1966 included a subbase of 12 inches of granular material, with the upper 3 inches treated with bituminous material. The base was 4 inches of a bituminous treated gravel base and 4 inches of plant-mixed bituminous base. The top layer was four inches of asphalt designed for high-traffic areas.

The road did not require an overlay until 1989, when it was milled and overlaid with an ultra-thin (one-inch) HMA that contained 20 percent Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP). Ten years later, in 1998, it was milled again and received a 4.5-inch HMA overlay made with approximately 15 percent RAP to accommodate increased traffic loadings. Both overlays were quality control/quality assurance projects.

The project throughout its history has performed well beyond expectations.

2002 Perpetual Pavement Award Picture of I-35

Current 2017 Project

The 2017 reconstruct project is nine miles of I-35 northbound and southbound, from 3 miles south of Willow River (County Rd 43) to 2 miles north of Sturgeon Lake (County Rd 46).

This project utilized various construction techniques and innovative technologies for quality control. The construction process involved milling, full depth reclamation of the existing base materials, and echelon paving. Traffic was diverted to the opposing lanes to allow for echelon paving with two pavers along the centerline joint.

New quality control pilot specifications were used on this project. The Disc-Shaped Compact Tension Test was specified as part of quality control. This test is used to determine the low temperature cracking performance of the mix design and produced mix.

Intelligent compaction was used to ensure adequate compaction coverage throughout the mat. The paver required a mounted infrared thermal scanner to measure the temperature profile behind each paver.

This project is under construction this summer through September.


Benefits of this project include:

  • Smoother pavement surface
  • Better ride quality
  • Improved motorist safety
  • Better drainage
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