Category Archives: Environment

A Long-Term Approach to Green Stormwater Infrastructure

This article was originally published in Catalyst, May 2021.

Strategies for managing stormwater runoff have been steadily undergoing a shift in recent decades toward “green” infrastructure. This is a potentially beneficial change, but transportation professionals are beginning to recognize a need for better information on how to properly design, implement, and maintain these facilities.

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New Project: Identifying and Optimizing Electric Vehicle Corridor Charging Infrastructure for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Trucks

Transportation is the number one emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota and medium to heavy duty trucks contribute to about 40% of transportation carbon pollution.

While electric cars and buses are becoming more common, medium and heavy duty electric trucks are still in their infancy, and the nationwide infrastructure needs to support them still has to be determined.

In a new study, MnDOT will identify the electric charging infrastructure needed along Minnesota highway corridors to support clean freight transportation.

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Earth Day 2021

April 22 is Earth Day!

Climate change & the environment is one of five research strategic priorities that guide the work of Minnesota’s transportation research program.

This includes research projects specific to endangered & threatened species, wetland protections, salt use and incursion, congestion impacts on air quality, and the impacts of road construction and maintenance activity on the environment.

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Low-Volume Road Runoff Analyses Suggest Optimal Treatments

Assisted by many county agency staff, researchers collected and analyzed runoff from low-volume rural roads over two years to determine how their contaminants compared to those of high-volume roadways. Results documented that runoff from low-volume roads has a lower contaminant concentration and that ditches and swales can be used to effectively treat rural road runoff.

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Monitoring Performance of an Iron-Enhanced Stormwater Filtration System

A recent study determined the effectiveness of a two-cell iron-enhanced stormwater filtration basin to remove phosphorus from highway stormwater runoff collected from 2012 to 2018. Researchers recommended design changes that would allow for more accurate monitoring of these filter basins.

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New Project: Have Minnesota’s Warmer Winters Increased the Number of Freeze Thaw Cycles?

Minnesota is experiencing warmer winters and an increase in freeze-thaw events may negatively impact pavement systems. However, the impacts of these recent climate changes on freeze-thaw cycles have not been well studied.

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Green Stormwater Infrastructure: Tradeoffs and Maintenance

This article was originally published in Catalyst, August 2020.

Using “green” infrastructure is a useful strategy for handling city stormwater, which may contain deicers and other contaminants from streets and sidewalks. Choosing the right method and ensuring it doesn’t cause unforeseen damage, however, is another matter. 

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Link Between Air Quality, Happiness Could Guide Infrastructure Decisions

This article was originally published in Catalyst, August 2020.

By connecting measures of happiness to transportation, researchers are developing new metrics that can help cities prioritize infrastructure investments. In a new study, a research team that included Humphrey School of Public Affairs professor Yingling Fan found that air quality appears to be linked with a variety of emotional well-being (EWB) outcomes.

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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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Improving Roadside Turfgrass Establishment

Just in time for spring, new guidance is available from the Minnesota Local Research Board on the best irrigation methods to establish fresh turfgrass. Researchers tested five irrigation methods for watering new installations of salt-tolerant turfgrass. They developed an instructional course for contractors and guidance for homeowners to promote successful turfgrass installation.

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