Smack in the middle of the farm fields and prairie just east of Luverne in the far southwestern corner of Minnesota, you can find the state’s first Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System. The Federal Highway Administration teamed up with MnDOT and Rock County to build the bridge as a way to introduce the technology to public works officials and to conduct further testing.
Mixing ground magnetite—an iron mineral found in taconite ore—into asphalt patch material and then “nuking” it with microwaves will seal the patch far more securely than conventional methods, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The researchers worked with Anoka and St. Louis Counties to test the microwave and magnetite technology for pothole repair—and the results were impressive.
Truck drivers don’t slow down the same way other drivers do: They pop the Jake brakes, downshift, or coast to reduce speed. Without brake lights to warn them, following motorists may not realize the truck ahead is slowing down. A new system—Slow ‘N’ Tell—reads truck speed and activates the brake lights when truck driver slows down.
To help agencies address crashes at rural curves, the Institute for Transportation at Iowa State University has developed a toolbox that summarizes the effectiveness of 14 known curve countermeasures, such as advance curve warning and advisory speed signing, chevrons, and high-friction treatments.
The Minnesota County Engineers Association is seeking nominations for its annual Highway Safety Achievement Award.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires all public agencies to develop a transition plan to identify physical obstacles that limit accessibility and then identify and schedule necessary improvements. In a session at the 23rd Annual CTS Transportation Research Conference, several speakers gave presentations geared to help local agencies comply with the law.
To improve safety on Minnesota’s local road system, the Minnesota Department of Transportation funded the development of road safety plans for each county in the state—a three-year effort completed in late 2012. At the 23rd Annual CTS Transportation Research Conference, Howard Preston, senior engineer with CH2M HILL Inc., gave an overview of the process and outcomes.
Complete Streets—roads that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users—offer many benefits, including improved safety, mobility, accessibility, public health, and quality of life. However, much of the work surrounding Complete Streets to date has focused on creating policies and guidelines rather than investigating the processes and action steps needed to successfully implement projects. In an effort to fill this knowledge gap, researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted a study on the planning and implementation of successful Complete Streets projects. A practitioner-oriented guidebook based on the study’s findings will be available this fall.
MnDOT and the LRRB have published a 51-page guidebook illustrated with photos and graphics: Minnesota’s Best Practices for Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety. The guidebook includes countermeasures such as countdown timers at signalized intersections and median refuge islands at unsignalized intersections.
Eden Prairie installed the Vaisala system on Viking Drive near I-494 in November 2012. The system was a more affordable option for the city than a full RWIS. Overall, city personnel have successfully used the system to help monitor winter weather events and make timely callouts for snow removal.
The National LTAP Association’s Build a Better Mousetrap National Competition highlights innovative solutions to everyday problems and issues that local and county transportation workers and other LTAP/TTAP clients encounter. The 2013 National Entry Booklet is online with all the entries; the Exchange features the top three.
Training and Education
The annual TERRA Pavement Conference will take place February 5 in a new location: the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Minneapolis. It will be held in conjunction with the Road Dust Institute’s 3rd Road Dust Best Management Practices Conference, scheduled for February 4, also at the Earle Brown Heritage Center.
The 13th annual Road Salt Symposium will be held February 6 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. A highlight of the symposium is the presentation of the Environmental Leadership Awards. Please tell us about innovative organizations or individuals who have taken steps to reduce the amount of salt used during winter maintenance.
Recent publications from various sources
Resources include the Minnesota Snow and Ice Control: Field Handbook for Snowplow Operators from Minnesota LTAP, MnDOT, and the LRRB, and the Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance Manual, published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.