MnDOT Announces COVID-19 Research Funding

The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of the transportation systems, with state DOTs and local agencies at the forefront of responding to changes, while continuing to meet core missions of providing safe, efficient, and effective transportation systems. To proactively respond and inform future decision-making related to COVID-19’s impact on the transportation sector, MnDOT is investing in research to answer questions specific to the impact of the COVID crisis on Minnesota’s transportation system.

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New Project: Climate Change Adaptation of Urban Stormwater Infrastructure

Climate change scenarios have been fairly well-tested and vetted. Moore et al. (2015) found that one of the noteworthy impacts on upper Midwest cities is an increase of storm magnitude of 39% (moderate scenario) to 163% (pessimistic scenario). However, the impact of these scenarios on stormwater infrastructure are not well understood and documented. There are some important financial decisions that need to be made for stormwater infrastructure in the present and near-future, requiring demonstration and discussion of the impacts of climate change on stormwater infrastructure.

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New Project: Impact of Speed Limit Changes on Urban Streets

Speeding is one of the top 5 factors in crashes in Minnesota. Prioritizing the most effective methods to encourage safe speeds is critical to maximizing effort and funding to reach zero deaths on our roadways.

In 2019, legislation passed to allow Minnesota cities to establish speed limits for city streets under the city’s jurisdiction without conducting an engineering or traffic investigation.

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New Project: Driver Comprehension of Flashing Yellow Arrows

Flashing yellow arrow indicators have been deployed at many signalized intersections in recent years to control left-turn movements and improve traffic flow.

When illuminated, the flashing yellow arrow allows waiting motorists to make a left-hand turn after yielding to oncoming traffic. 

The Federal Highway Administration considers flashing yellow arrows to be a significant safety improvement over traditional yield-on-green indicators, which are believed to be less intuitive. However, motorist complaints and some high-profile crashes indicate that there is still some level of driver confusion.  

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New Project: Benefit/Cost of Applying a Higher Asphalt Film Thickness vs. Doing a Chip Seal at One Year

In Minnesota, reducing the effects of oxidation is a continuous challenge.

In a new study, funded by the Local Road Research Board, researchers will compare the effectiveness of two different methods: applying a surface treatment (typically a fog or chip seal) and increasing the asphalt film thickness during original construction.

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New Project: Assessing the Economic Effects of Context Sensitive Main Street Highways in Small Cities

Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

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Cooperative Agreements Bring Benefits and Risks for Local Governments

This article was originally published in Catalyst, July 2020.

Local government contributions for Minnesota’s roadway system have increased in recent years. This includes local spending on trunk highways—the roads under MnDOT’s jurisdiction—that are part of local transportation systems.

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Student Project Analyzes Road-Funding Tools for Small Suburban Cities

This article was originally published in Catalyst, July 2020.

The City of Ramsey is wearing down its roads faster than it can fund their maintenance and construction. In light of this, the city is investigating ways to fund road projects sustainably, and it partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) to advance the investigation.

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Transitway Investment Leads to Higher Regional GDP, Job Growth, and Accessibility

This article was originally published in Catalyst, July 2020.

A new study from researchers in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs found that transitway investment adds considerable economic value to metropolitan regions, including the Twin Cities area, and it increases access to the places people need to reach to prepare for, get, and keep a good job.

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Knowledge Books Preserve Expertise of Retiring Workers

MnDOT has successfully piloted a European knowledge retention method to preserve the expertise of retiring workers who are subject matter experts. The agency has produced interactive multimedia books that use graphics, video and written material to present valuable information on concrete pavements, asphalt pavements and steel bridges, learned over a person’s entire career, for use by future engineers. 

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