Dan Whaley, Maryland
Avenue Truck Station, got the audience's attention when he roared down
the main aisle on a new Harley as part of Ken Schmidt's keynote address
at last week's Transportation Conference. Photo by Terri Betsch
Nearly a thousand Mn/DOT employees and others associated with the transportation
industry met Feb. 12-13 at the annual Transportation Conference to celebrate
successes and examine the challenges that lie ahead in a quickly changing environment.
Conference participants gathered for general sessions and in smaller workshop
settings to gain more insight into the departmentís future.
Participants also heard Gov. Jesse Ventura praise the departmentís role as
a transportation leader and urged legislative support for his program including
$120 million in bonding for the Northstar commuter rail line.
The usually prompt Ventura apologized for being late for his appearance.
"I was caught in
traffic," Gov. Jesse Ventura deadpanned to an appreciative audience
when he spoke Feb. 12 at the Transportation Conference. Photo by Terri
"I was caught in traffic," he deadpanned to appreciative laughter
from the audience.
He turned quickly serious, however, urging Mn/DOT people to "go out and
do what needs to be done" to improve the stateís transportation system.
Thatís what participants did, fanning out to exchange their own knowledge and
expertise, visit displays, attend workshops and listen to conference speakers.
The conferenceís opening speaker, Ken Schmidt from Harley-Davidson, quickly
gained attention when the characteristic "potato, potato, potato"
rumble of a Harley V-twin engine echoed throughout the hall as Dan Whaley from
the Maryland Avenue Truck Station drove a new Harley down the main aisle.
Following Schmidtís address on the rise and fall (and rise again) of Harley-Davidson,
conference-goers attended workshops on topics such as effective leadership,
critical issues facing freight movement in the state, the challenges involved
in being a corridor manager and Mn/DOTís role in passenger rail development.
Ron Bisek and Kari Schamber,
both from Training and Development, "classed up" their breakout
session on "Leading in Style" by wearing top hats. Photo
by Terri Betsch
For example, in the leadership session led by Ron Bisek, assistant manager,
Training and Development, and Kari Schamber, a professional trainer, participants
learned different leadership styles and ways to apply different styles to unique
Presenters of the session on passenger rail explained the development of the
Hiawatha light rail transit line and Mn/DOTís plans for the Northstar commuter
service planned to create rail service between Minneapolis and St. Cloud.
On the conferenceís second day, workshops included sessions focused on bus
transit in Greater Minnesota, the Advanced Travelers Information System, the
design-build process and the Shaping Our Future plan that guides development
of Mn/DOTís 20-year State Transportation Plan.
"We tend to take
ourselves too seriously," said keynote speaker Amanda Gore. "We
need to let go, live out loud and enjoy ourselves." Staff photo
Amanda Gore, keynote speaker on the conferenceís second day, urged participants
to stay in touch with their emotional selves and to pay attention to how emotions
play a critical role in the work place.
Gore, an Australian with a salty and common sense approach to things, told
conference participants they need to stay emotionally connected with themselves,
their co-workers and their families to become truly effective in their jobs
and to remain healthy.
"We tend to take ourselves too seriously," she said. "We need
to let go, live out loud and enjoy ourselves."
In the Design-Build session, participants learned about three projects that
use design-build principles to speed up program delivery. The design-build process
overlaps design and construction, allowing construction to begin before all
design details are finalized.
Two projects, Hwy 14 near Owatonna and Hwy 100 in Golden Valley, used the traditional
low-bid process to award projects to contractors. The Hwy 100 project was slightly
different in that Mn/DOT pre-qualified proposers to create a short-list that
help to make sure that the most qualified team bid on the project. Another project,
Hwy 52 in Rochester, will award the contract to the contractor who can provide
the "best-value"óa process that will allow Mn/DOT to look at many
factors in awarding the bid.
Doug Weiszhaar and Traci Vibo, Transit, chat in front of the Office of
Transit's exhibit. Photo by Craig Wilkins
Conference participants also had the opportunity to attend two Shaping Our
Future sessions, which provided more information about where Mn/DOT is heading
as it develops the 2003 Statewide Transportation Plan in an environment that
requires the department to deliver projects faster and at lower costs.
As reported in last weekís Mn/DOT Newsline, nearly two dozen Mn/DOT
employees received recognition for their contributions to transportation systems
management, leadership and information. Click here to see the list of the 2002
Mn/DOT Pride Award winners.