All posts by mndotresearch

20 Tips to Up Your Social Media Game

One of the best ways to connect with communities about projects and events that affect them is to reach them where they already are – on social media.  But whether you’re a social media newbie or a communications professional, there are always new trends, technology, and platforms to learn, and it can be overwhelming.

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Evaluating Weather’s Effects on the Accuracy of Automated Vehicles

Fully automated vehicles may not be market-ready yet, but one day, they expect to provide a variety of benefits like reduced emissions and greater safety and transportation equity. These vehicles and the complex combination of underlying technologies that power them are continually being tested and improved to ensure the vehicles will meet the highest standards of safety and performance. 

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Nondestructive Detection of Pile Length for High-Mast Light Towers

A new testing method will allow MnDOT to determine the underground foundation pile depths of high-mast light towers (HMLTs) without digging or dismantling. HMLTs need to meet design standards to ensure load-bearing stability. By using the new method to evaluate pile depth, MnDOT could avoid costly retrofits or replacements, and prioritize light towers in need of redesign.  

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Have Minnesota’s Warmer Winters Increased the Number of Freeze-Thaw Cycles?

Minnesota’s winters have been warming significantly faster than summers over the last several decades. In fact, the state’s winters are among the fastest warming in the U.S. This warming trend is likely increasing the time in which winter temperatures are near freezing, which could increase the number of freeze-thaw events. An increase in freeze-thaw events could have detrimental effects on Minnesota’s pavement systems.

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Environmental Evaluations of Potassium Acetate Used as a Road Salt Alternative

New research explored the environmental impacts of an alternative to road salt—potassium acetate, which is effective on ice at lower temperatures. Minnesota’s winter roads have been effectively treated for decades with chloride-based mixtures for anti-icing and deicing. Salt, however, corrodes steel in vehicles and infrastructure. Additionally, chloride runoff harms the aquatic environment. For example, up to 70% of road salt applied on Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area roads ends up in groundwater aquifers and nearby lakes, many of which exceed regulatory limits for chloride concentrations. 

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Fiber-Reinforced Concrete’s Potential as a Performance Engineered Mixture

Reinforcing concrete pavement with structural fibers improves its durability and helps protect against potential faulting and cracking. MnDOT has used fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) on some concrete bridge decks and pavements. Winter weather, freeze-thaw cycles and road salt, however, still hasten concrete deterioration. In a recent study, researchers evaluated FRC in the context of performance engineered mix design methods, giving MnDOT confidence in the parameters that FRC needs to meet to help withstand Minnesota’s harsh weather. 

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Managing Building Assets With Scanning and Reality Modeling

MnDOT owns and maintains approximately 900 buildings across Minnesota, and the Building Services Section is responsible for planning repairs, renovations or expansions. Architects, engineers and other specialists involved in these activities require data regarding building and site conditions. Collecting this data is often a multidisciplinary and laborious effort that can be time-consuming and expensive. Alternative technologies, however, can gather and process large amounts of accurate information more comprehensively, safely and cost-effectively. 

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Improving Asphalt Performance and Durability With Superpave 5

Minnesota’s harsh climate requires dense, durable asphalt to avoid frequent maintenance and replacement. Asphalt mixes as designed in the laboratory, however, don’t always perform consistently in the field. A new Superpave mix shows promise for providing cost-effective, high-performing pavements for state roadways.

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Improving Road Safety and Wildlife Conservation With Barrier Fencing

Small animals crossing roads put the animals at risk and present a significant safety hazard to road users. Motorists who suddenly stop or slow to avoid small animals crossing the road can cause significant safety concerns. Motorcyclists and bicyclists risk serious injury if they swerve or hit an animal, as do pedestrians in the road trying to assist the animals. A new, cost-effective fence design was tested and shown to be effective in preventing small animal crossings, benefiting both public safety and conservation. 

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Expanding Alternative Snow Control Through Landowner Engagement

Some rural landowners maintain snow fences to prevent blowing snow from reaching highways, decreasing the resources MnDOT spends on winter maintenance. A recent project provided new information and updated tools to encourage more landowners to adopt this alternative snow control method.

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