Cemstone has supplied 15,000 cubic yards of concrete for the Marquette and Second Avenue South transit project (MARQ2) in downtown Minneapolis. The MARQ2 project team initially expected to incorporate asphalt for much of the road surfaces, but selected concrete after an analysis by team members.

"The bid package for MARQ2 was based on completing the general traffic side of the street with full depth asphalt and the transit side of the street with concrete, but included an alternate for an all concrete roadway," said Bill Fellows P.E., MARQ2 Project Manager for the City of Minneapolis. "We received five bids for the project and, in all cases, the cost of the concrete was within 5% of the asphalt option. In addition to being cost competitive, the concrete will be more durable. Moreover, concrete's aesthetic benefits make it an important element of the overall streetscape design."

The concrete supplied by Cemstone contains fly ash, a coal combustion byproduct that is often used as an ingredient in concrete to enhance its strength and durability while reducing its carbon footprint. Concrete pavements carry a life expectancy longer than asphalt pavements, require less maintenance and reduce the Urban Heat Island effect.

"We are seeing a shift to concrete as the material of choice for projects like MARQ2 and other infrastructure projects such as ramps and shopping center parking lots," said Thor Becken, president of Cemstone. "Concrete's performance and environmental advantages are numerous and significant. Concrete is not petroleum based, is locally sourced and is more price stable than asphalt."

When fully-completed in December of 2009, the changes to Marquette and Second Avenue will improve bus capacity and bus travel times in downtown and will include: two contra-flow bus lanes, two traffic lanes, wider sidewalks, new streetscape and public art, as well as enhanced pedestrian facilities.