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 moving minnesota through employee communication
 April 17, 2002
No. 57 
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This week's top stories
Rochester’s roundabouts offer new option to manage traffic flow
SMT makes no changes to Central Office fleet maintenance, motor pool
House inches towards funding bill compromise
Mn/DOT Library celebrates 45 years of service April 18
Annual employee meeting builds camaraderie in Rochester District
Schaefer appointed to CTAP coordinator position
Employees invited to join Earth Day tree planting
Motorist thanks Zerwas for assistance after accident
Rochester’s roundabouts offer new option to manage traffic flow

Medford roundabout design

I-35 near Owatonna will be the site of the first two traffic "roundabouts" built in Minnesota in connection with a major highway. The roundabouts could lower overall project construction costs by nearly $500,000.

Come November, motorists traveling to the Medford Outlet Mall on I-35 near Owatonna will encounter a first—the first two traffic "roundabouts" built in Minnesota in connection with a major highway.

Work on the roundabouts began April 8.

The roundabouts will be located on the west and east sides of I-35 and carry Steele County Road 12 over the freeway.

Similar to but smaller than the traffic circles common on the East Coast, the roundabouts will help lower project construction costs by enabling designers to build a two-lane bridge rather than a five-lane bridge that conventional diamond interchanges would require.

The roundabouts could lower overall costs by nearly $500,000.

Steve Kirsch, Rochester District structures engineer and manager for the project, said the roundabouts differ from circles by being much smaller—about 200 feet in diameter—and by the way they manage traffic flow.

Speeds are lower on roundabouts, about 25 miles per hour compared with 45 miles per hour on circles. In addition, drivers entering a roundabout yield to traffic; drivers entering a circle have the right of way.

The roundabout design, Kirsch said, includes curving the entrance ramps to slow vehicle speeds and to direct drivers into the traffic flow.

The impetus for roundabouts, he said, stems from Ron Erickson, state geometrics engineer, who learned of them in Europe and from district managers who were willing to try something new.

Erickson said the design provides an element of added safety by eliminating right angle collisions, which cause more severe crashes.

"This is a workable place to partner with the city of Medford and Steele County and try this design," Kirsch said. "If it works well, we’ll have one more option in our toolbox."

By Craig Wilkins


SMT makes no changes to Central Office fleet maintenance, motor pool

Responsibility for the Central Office motor pool and fleet maintenance functions will continue to reside in the Office of Maintenance, the Senior Management Team decided April 9.

SMT’s decision completes its review of the Maintenance office—one of several being evaluated as part of Mn/DOT’s Shaping Our Future effort. On March 26, SMT decided to implement several other changes in the Office of Maintenance. See the April 3 Mn/DOT Newsline article for more information.

The Central Office motor pool provides and coordinates more than 40 vehicles for Central Office employees. Fleet maintenance repairs and maintains all motor vehicles assigned to Central Office. SMT’s decision does not affect the Metro Division or the districts, which will continue to maintain their own motor pools.

In making its decision, SMT considered recommendations from the Program Delivery and Program Support groups outlining a variety of options for each function, such as decentralizing and outsourcing responsibilities.

Mark Wikelius, Maintenance director, and Dick Stehr, Program Support acting director, have had several meetings with Office of Maintenance employees to discuss the implications of Shaping Our Future on them.

In addition, Stehr holds a bi-weekly "Discussions With Dick" forum in the Transportation Building to update all employees about Shaping Our Future changes and to give them an opportunity to ask questions. The next "Discussions With Dick" is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30, at 1:30 p.m.

Other offices undergoing internal review as part of the Shaping Our Future effort include Administrative Services, Bridges & Structures, Communications & Public Relations, Consultant Services/Contract Management, Electronic Communications, Materials & Road Research, Research Services and Traffic Engineering.

Click here for more information about Shaping Our Future. Send questions and comments to or to Change, Mail Stop 150. See also Mn/DOT Newsline for previous articles relating to Shaping Our Future.


House inches towards funding bill compromise

Taking a first step towards compromise, House members of the transportation finance conference committee today indicated that they might consider raising the state gas tax to pay for highway projects.

According to the House proposal, the rate of increase in the gas tax would be determined by the amount of additional trunk highway bonding authorized above the $750 million in bonding in the original House proposal.

Senate conferees agreed to consider the House proposal, which falls short of the Senate stance of a six-cent per gallon gas tax increase.

Both the House and Senate will meet in session Thursday at 10 a.m. The next meeting of the transportation finance conference committee has not been scheduled.

Click here to view Mn/DOT’s legislative summaries.


Mn/DOT Library celebrates 45 years of service April 18

Group of 7 people

Mn/DOT Library celebrates 45 years From left to right are staff members Jerry Baldwin, Margie Grilley, Barb Hogan, John Pantelis, Qin Tang, Mary Johnson. Jim Byerly seated. Photo by Jim Byerly

On Thursday, April 18, Mn/DOT Library staff will take a deep breath, celebrate past accomplishments, and prepare for further expansion of global knowledge frontiers.

They will also use the day to say thank you to their customers and the department for 45 years of support with an all-day open house that will include tours, demonstrations and refreshments, according to Jerry Baldwin, Mn/DOT Library Director.

"Mn/DOT Library has a staff that has been described by one of our customers as the 'most professional' of any library in the Twin Cities and we offer a wider array of services than any other DOT library in the U.S.," Baldwin said.

The April 1957 issue of Minnesota Highways, the department’s employee magazine, announced that Joan Peterson, "a qualified full-time librarian," had been hired "to organize and operate the new library." According to the article, the purpose of establishing the library was "so that more profitable use may be made of the available literature."

Forty-five years later, making more profitable use of the available literature remains the library's purpose. However, it's unlikely anyone involved in founding the library in 1957 envisioned "available literature" as including information from anywhere in the world. Nor could they have imagined the array of formats "literature" now takes—pdf files, Web sites, CD-ROMs, microfilm, videocassettes, spreadsheets, databases, PowerPoint presentations, in addition to books, magazines and newspapers in both print and electronic formats.

Likewise, they could never have foreseen the many technologies now used to identify available literature on a global basis and speed its delivery to the customer or the role Mn/DOT Library would come to play in this effort.

The Mn/DOT Library is located on the first floor of the Transportation Building in St. Paul. The library’s Web site is

By Sonia Pitt


Annual employee meeting builds camaraderie in Rochester District

Man signing paper for woman

Brian Brotherton, a heavy equipment mechanic at Rochester, makes changes to his deferred compensation plan with a financial planner during the Rochester District’s annual employee meeting. Photo by Craig Wilkins

In a time of uncertainty from budget shortfalls, union contracts and widespread change, Rochester District employees found helpful information and support among themselves at the district’s annual meeting on April 11.

Although limits on contracts eliminated outside speakers, some employees said the meeting was very informative and helped build morale and camaraderie.

"We did a better job with our own people," said Gary Zech, a transportation generalist at Albert Lea. "It was well-organized. We hashed over the good things and the bad. The more you learn the better you feel."

Between workshop sessions, participants visited booths set up by the Hiway Federal Credit Union, health insurers and Mn/DOT programs from St. Paul, including Information Resource Management and the Seeds Program.

Woman, man sitting at table

Emma Corrie, Seeds Program director, visits with Larry Anderson, Owatonna information technology specialist 3, at the District 6 employee meeting. Anderson supervises a Seeds employee at Owatonna. Photo by Craig Wilkins

Emma Corrie, Seeds Program director, Human Resources, said visiting the districts enables her to communicate directly with employees about the program.

"It’s very valuable to connect with the districts," she said. "We can always do better when it comes to staying in touch with the people we work with."

Terry Wilson, a transportation generalist at Rochester and an event organizer, said the meeting helped employees connect their jobs with the district’s goals and to reduce their feelings of anxiety regarding change.

"Visiting with fellow employees helps us see the big picture, not feel singled out by the effects of cutbacks," she said.

Presenters like Jon Chiglo, Hwy 52 project supervisor, and District Engineer Greg Paulson, explained initiatives such as the use of the design-build process and Mn/DOT’s and the district’s goals and objectives, Zech said.

"With budget cutbacks at Mn/DOT and the state as a whole, the district meeting was a good opportunity for us to talk with employees," Paulson said. "We are also in transition at our district with my being the new district engineer, having a new maintenance engineer and other changes.

"Overall, the meeting enables people to network with fellow employees they don’t often see, have a little fun and reinforce that it’s important for us to work together as one district."

By Craig Wilkins

2002 schedule for district meetings

The remainder of district employee meetings follows. Some districts cancelled or limited their meetings due to budget constraints or efforts to reduce their number of meetings.

District 1—no meeting

District 2—no annual employee day; however, west side of district will meet with benefit representatives on May 1. The east side will meet on May 2.

District 3—Employee day held April 16 in Foley for St. Cloud area; Brainerd/Baxter employee day held April 17 in Brainerd.

District 4—April 30

District 7—no meeting this year

District 8—April 17, Marshall; April 18, Willmar, April 19, Hutchinson.


Schaefer appointed to CTAP coordinator position


Kathleen Schaefer is the new coordinator for the Circuit Training and Assistance Program. Photo by Craig Wilkins

Kathleen Schaefer is the new coordinator for the Circuit Training and Assistance Program within the Maintenance Operations Research and Standards section.

As the new CTAP coordinator, Schaefer will work as an intermediary, providing new information and technology concerning maintenance research efforts to state, county, city and township transportation departments. CTAP provides information and training to these departments about various new technological advances such as new chemicals and methods for snow and ice control.

Schaefer previously worked as an intermittent supervisor at Metro’s Eden Prairie truck station and has worked for Mn/DOT for five years. She has an associate of arts degree in both liberal arts and in American Sign Language, and has worked as an interpreter for a year.

By Shayla Cain


Employees invited to join Earth Day tree planting

Mn/DOT employees are invited to join staff from Environmental Services and Boy Scout Troop 266 on Earth Day, Saturday, April 20, in Inver Grove Heights to plant trees and shrubs to control erosion near ponds in the southeast quadrant of Hwy 55 and the Robert Street Trail.

Dwayne Stenlund, a naturalist with Environmental Services, will demonstrate planting techniques to the volunteers who will plant more than 1,900 trees and shrubs in the effort known as "Trees as Soil Nails." The activity starts at 8 a.m. and ends at noon.

The planting site is in the upland wetland edges of Mn/DOT’s Van Asche storm water retention pond and the Schoenecker wetland pond. Plant species will include green ash, peach leaf willow, silver maple, false indigo, common chokecherry and American plum.

Parking is available on the frontage road (Courthouse Boulevard) above the planting areas.


Motorist thanks Zerwas for assistance after accident

Dale Zerwas, heavy equipment operator in the Office of Materials & Road Research, was on his way to the I-494/Hwy 61(Wakota Bridge) job site the morning of April 1, a day in which seven inches of heavy snow fell on the Twin Cities and caused a reported 240 car accidents. Zerwas stopped in his state unit to assist the people who were in an accident before continuing on to the job site.

Dear Dale—I want to thank you again for stopping your car on 494 today to assist in the accident that I was in. It is really great to know that people like you are willing to help when help is needed. I especially want to thank you for allowing me to use your cell phone and for helping the elderly woman in the other car.

Please show this note to your boss to let him know why you were late to work on April Fool’s day and because I would like him or her to know what a terrific employee you are!

Yours sincerely,
Megan R.


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