Pollinators such as rusty-patched bumble bees and monarch butterflies, critical to our eco-system, are at risk due to the loss of native habitat. A University of Minnesota research team, with support of MnDOT and the Local Road Research Board, studied whether restored roadsides could provide safe habitats for declining pollinator populations.Continue reading Roadside Safe Spaces for Butterflies and Bees
Can Twin Cities roadsides be used to grow habitat for endangered bumble bees? Are unseen factors affecting safety at rural intersections? How should Minnesota transportation agencies be preparing for connected vehicle technology?
Minnesota’s next round of transportation research projects will attempt to solve these and other questions facing the state’s transportation community. The Transportation Research and Investment Group, which governs MnDOT’s research program, and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, which represents cities and counties, recently met and selected 21 transportation research projects for funding in fiscal year 2018.
A couple of MnDOT’s most interesting projects will evaluate the reuse of wastewater at safety rest areas and truck stations and develop a system to optimize the location of 80 truck stations due for replacement in the next 20 years. MnDOT will also partner with the Local Road Research Board to evaluate the use of personal warning sensors for road construction workers.
In addition to the problem of stripping underneath sealcoats on some city streets, other top research projects for local governments involve pedestrian safety enforcement and investigating whether rural, low-volume roads should be treated differently than urban roads for stormwater runoff. Current regulations govern runoff the same, regardless of daily vehicle count or surrounding land use.
“The selected research studies, which typically take one to three years to complete, will address some of the most major policy, environmental and maintenance dilemmas facing transportation practitioners,” said Linda Taylor, director of MnDOT Research Services & Library.
Below is a list of the selected projects, with links to associated need statements. Final project scopes will become available once contracts are approved. For further information, go here.
Bridges & Structures
- Understanding and Mitigating the Dynamic Behavior of Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Signs and Digital Message Signs Under Wind Loading (PDF)
Materials & Construction
- Remaining Service Life Asset Measure, Phase 1 (PDF)
- Experimental and Computational Investigations of High Density Asphalt Mixtures
- Pavement Thickness Evaluation using 3D Ground Penetrating Radar (PDF)
- Is Seal Coating Counterproductive or Not? (PDF)
- Cost/Benefit Analysis of the Effectiveness of Crack Sealing Techniques (PDF)
- Characterization of Runoff Quality from Paved Low Volume Roads and Optimization of Treatment Methods
- Monitoring and Habitat Assessment of Declining Bumble Bees in Twin Cities Metro Roadsides
- Development and Regionalization of In Situ Bioslopes and Bioswales (summary unavailable)
- Investigating Wastewater Reuse at Truck Stations and Rest Areas (PDF)
- Truck Station Location Optimization (PDF)
- Personal Warning Sensor for Road Construction Workers (PDF)
- Adaptive Management to Improve Deicing Operations (summary unavailable)
Traffic & Safety
- Pavement Markings – Wet Retroreflectivity Standards (PDF)
- Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Stop Lines in Increasing the Safety of Stop-Controlled Intersections (PDF)
- How Locals Need To Prepare for the Future of V2V/V2I Connected Vehicles (PDF)
- Prepare Local Agencies for Future of V2V/V2I and Connected Vehicle Technologies (PDF) (there will be two separate projects evaluating new vehicle technologies- both proposals responded to the same need statement )
- Examining Optimal Sight Distances at Rural Intersections (PDF)
- Evaluation of Sustained Enforcement, Education, and Engineering Measures on Pedestrian Crossings (PDF)
- Cloud-Based Dynamic Warning System (summary unavailable)
Bees, butterflies and other pollinators busily work on our behalf to help our crops and wild plant life reproduce. Most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds without the aid of these little bugs.
MnDOT is taking steps to ensure that the habitat these creatures depend on gets the protection it needs.
In addition to recently signing an agreement with five other state DOTs to improve pollinator habitat along Interstate 35, a key migratory corridor for Monarch butterflies, MnDOT has just completed a review of other state and local government practices to identify more opportunities to use existing right-of-way to protect pollinators.
“State roadways have acres and acres of habitat ideal for pollinators,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle, during the announcement about the I-35 initiative. “With some careful planning, we can ensure that Monarch butterflies and other creatures that pollinate are able to thrive, which ultimately benefits our food sources and us.”
New Opportunities for Protecting Pollinators
A Transportation Research Synthesis (TRS) released this week underscores MnDOT’s commitment to maintaining roadside habitat for pollinators.
MnDOT set out to learn about the experiences of other state departments of transportation and local agencies in maintaining pollinator landscapes on highway rights of way through partnerships with individuals, groups or local agencies.
Results of the literature review are supplemented with findings from a survey of selected state DOTs and Minnesota counties. Nine state DOTs describe current practices or plans to develop new pollinator-specific partnerships; existing partnerships that have been expanded to address pollinators; and Adopt-a-Highway programs that support maintenance of vegetation in the right of way.
The Transportation Research Synthesis (TRS) may lead to enhancements to MnDOT’s existing practices or the development of a new pollinator-specific partnership program.
While MnDOT does not have a community partnership that focuses solely on promoting pollinator habitat, its Community Roadside Landscape Partnership Program allows Minnesota communities to partner with MnDOT to establish and maintain landscaping in the ROW along highways that traverse their communities, and these landscaping treatments may benefit pollinators.
MnDOT has also partnered with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to establish more than 20 native seed mixes for use on Minnesota roadsides. MnDOT’s online PlantSelector tool includes a seed mix tab to help designers and novices select the right seed for the right place.