Category Archives: Environment

Monitoring Bumble Bee Populations in the Twin Cities Metro – Lessons Learned

In a project funded by MNDOT, entomologists developed an innovative method for surveying bumble bee populations alongside roadways. The researchers have recently published an article in Biological Conversations, Vol 283 focusing on the lessons learned about sampling when surveying these quick-moving bees.

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Exploring a State-Tribal Partnership to Advance Energy Goals

MnDOT has a unique opportunity to make progress toward its renewable energy goals and enhance the government-to-government relationship with the Red Lake Nation. Initial analyses of an innovative energy partnership indicate potential mutual and multiple benefits for MnDOT and the tribe.

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Study recommends biodiversity when planting roadside vegetation

April 24, 2023

Traditional practices for planting and maintaining roadside turfgrass in Minnesota have generally focused on finding a few plant species that do well in combination and blanket-prescribing them across the state. A recent U of M study, however, finds that plantings tend to do better when they are both biodiverse and carefully matched to their ideal growing conditions.

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How will the energy transition impact transportation?

This article was originally posted on Catalyst, January 2023.

The transition to sustainable energy is underway in Minnesota and across the country, propelled by both a growing need to reduce greenhouse emissions and the upcoming influx of funds from new federal legislation. On October 26, 2022, CTS hosted a seminar to explore two important aspects of the energy transition and their impacts on the transportation infrastructure: community solar and electric vehicle (EV) readiness.

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EV System Impacts

Model helps analyze EV system impacts, evaluate policies for subsidies and charging

Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to capture a substantial portion of the future vehicle market. In the short term, however, technology and infrastructure limitations—such as driving range and charging availability—will prevent transition on a large scale. Because EVs will share the road network with gasoline vehicles (GVs), says Alireza Khani, “it’s crucial to understand how EVs and GVs will coexist.”

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Exploring Region-Specific Roadside Turfgrass Varieties

Local agencies need cost-effective and durable turfgrass seed mixes to ensure grass coverage remains optimal along roadsides. In a recent study, researchers analyzed the performance of grass seed mixtures and planting costs, recommended region-specific mixes and developed a cost estimation tool for local agencies to be confident in their roadside vegetation choices.

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New Project: Update of Stormwater Management Best Practices Manual

The Local Road Research Board published the Stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) Maintenance Resource Guide in 2009, and best practices for stormwater management have since evolved. Much has been learned about the benefits and limitations and inspection and maintenance activities of stormwater ponds, bioretention facilities, underground treatment devices, underground detention, and infiltration. Regulatory requirements have also changed as indicated in the Minnesota Stormwater Manual.

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New Project: Sustainable Application of Tire Derived Aggregate in Stormwater Infiltration/Treatment

The reuse of old tires that often end up in landfills has a significant environmental benefit. Tire derived aggregate (TDA), a waste product from automobile tires, can be used in stormwater treatment systems and has shown to be effective at retaining phosphate. However, TDA does not prevent the leaching of metals including zinc and copper.  

Developing media for stormwater infiltration/filtration that uses TDA in combination with materials that can capture metals has several advantages. It would prevent more pollutants from being released into Minnesota’s lakes and streams, save on landfill space and reduce stormwater management costs.

“The use of TDA has been proposed in the past for use in stormwater treatment.  However, local agencies aren’t very familiar with the product being used for this application and have concerns about its potential to contaminate groundwater resources,” said Mark Hansen, city engineer, City of Coon Rapids. “Initial research is showing positive benefits for the use of TDA as a component of the stormwater treatment process, while minimizing its impacts to groundwater.  Using TDA for this application provides a great opportunity to redirect old car tires from landfills and beneficially reuse them to assist in providing stormwater treatment.”


  • Select blend materials identified in literature review and mix them in different ratios with TDA.
  • Measure the pollutant removal performance from runoff, leaching of zinc and copper from TDA, and infiltration capacity of each mix.
  • Analyze the observed values to choose the suitable blend material/ratio.
  • Perform lab batch tests to evaluate the potential leaching or removal of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) by TDA and the blends.
  • Determine impact of biofilms on the leaching of zinc and copper from the mix (Biofilms will be grown on an already defined mix of TDA with blend material).
  • Conduct outreach on project results and implications to management to key stakeholder groups.

Project Details

  • Estimated Start Date: 06/03/2022
  • Estimated Completion Date: 06/30/2025
  • Funding: Local Road Research Board
  • Principal Investigator: John Gulliver
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Meijun Cai
  • Technical Liaison:  Mark Hansen

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit the Local Road Research Board website to subscribe.

Improving Pollinator Habitat Through Cost-Effective Roadside Revegetation

Pollinating insect populations are declining worldwide. Revegetating roadsides after construction offers an opportunity to create pollinator-friendly habitat. Local agencies and MnDOT have new tools and strategies to cost-effectively derive multiple benefits from roadside revegetation efforts. 

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