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.
Minnesota’s transportation research governing boards put a new emphasis on financial benefits when selecting next year’s round of transportation research projects.
MnDOT’s Transportation Research Innovation Group (TRIG) and the Local Road Research Board announced their Fiscal Year 2016 funding awards this week after hearing proposals from researchers in several states. They selected 20 research proposals hall-marked by novel approaches to improving the environment, increasing transportation safety, improving construction methods and boosting the bottom line.
“We asked the principal investigator to present the safety and financial benefits up front, and how they can be implemented to improve the transportation system and economic viability of Minnesota,” said MnDOT Research Management Engineer Hafiz Munir. “We’re making a point early in the process to identify those potential benefits, quantify them and document them in our tracking system.”
Researchers will test new technology that could make crack-free pavements; find better, faster and less expensive ways to reclaim roads; and even explore how to use waste material from road construction projects as part of the landscaping to absorb water runoff.
Links are provided below to brief descriptions of each of the projects:
Minnesota’s next round of research implementation projects will reduce the spread of noxious weeds along state highways, improve the quality of asphalt on Minnesota roads and enhance the inspection of state bridges.
Each winter, MnDOT solicits proposals from staff who want to put local or national research into practice in their day-to-day work.
“Certain departments have problems they’ve been working on for a long time and they’ve spun their wheels or not had the staff resources to get something done,” said MnDOT Research Services & Library Project Advisor Bruce Holdhusen, who helps employees develop their proposal plans.
MnDOT provides the funding needed for equipment, consultant services or researcher assistance. Supervisors also must sign off that they’ll make time for the staff member to implement the practice.
“Implementation means it’s changing the way some practitioner does their job,” Holdhusen said. “It’s not just trying something new; it’s got to stick.”
Highlights of this year’s projects:
Installation of GPS units on MnDOT mowers to alert highway maintenance crews to areas of noxious weeds. This is anticipated to cut herbicide usage in half.
Purchase of 3D sonar equipment for underwater bridge inspection, which is currently performed by engineer-divers.
Selection of an alternative, European-branded center-line rumble strip (Sinusoidal) that produces less stray highway noise.
Implementation of an innovative asphalt-quality test, developed by MnDOT’s Office of Materials and Road Research, to assess the cold temperature-cracking properties of asphalt mixes proposed by contractors.
Advertisement of state rest area amenities on highway notification signs. This pilot project will target 13 rest stops.
Minnesota’s next round of transportation research projects will explore using traffic signal data to predict crashes, evaluate various impacts of bicycling on the state and address a range of other transportation issues.
The state’s two transportation research governing boards have authorized funding for a total of 24 new research projects. MnDOT’s Transportation Research Innovation Group (TRIG) and the Local Road Research Board announced their Fiscal Year 2015 funding awards this week after hearing proposals from researchers in several states. MnDOT Research Management Engineer Hafiz Munir said the projects, which are listed below, reflect the needs of state and local practitioners.
“Many of the projects fall under the ‘traffic and safety’ or ‘materials and construction’ categories, which I think reflects MnDOT and local agency priorities,” Munir said. “Ultimately, all of these research projects address business needs of the people who build and maintain our roads.”
Links are provided to brief descriptions of each project (as provided by the researchers who submitted the proposals).