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  moving minnesota through employee communication August 6, 2003    No. 107
  This week's top stories
 State pumps an additional $900 million into transportation for 2003-07
 New Strategic Plan hits the streets – and the Web
 Transit drivers saddle up for annual bus ‘roadeo’
 Quick response to driver’s concern earns praise for Metro District

 State pumps an additional $900 million into transportation for 2003-07

woman at lectern

Lt. Gov./Commissioner Carol Molnau describes the projects that will be accelerated over the next four years with the state's largest transportation investment program ever. she and Gov. Tim Pawlenty held a news conference July 31 at the Maryland Avenue Truck Station announcing the infusion of an addition $900 million into transportation during 2003-07. Photo by Dave Gonzalez

Mn/DOT will undertake the largest transportation investment program in state history over the next four years under a plan Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Gov./Commissioner Carol Molnau announced last week.

Authorized by the Legislature this past session, the $900 million-plus program will advance 12 large-scale projects—including those that would construct new roads and bridges, add lanes, and grade, surface and widen the roadway—an average of five years earlier than scheduled for each project. These projects are in addition to the more than $500 million the state already spends annually on transportation.

"Despite facing the worst budget shortfall in Minnesota’s history, we were able to engineer an unprecedented plan for new transportation dollars without raising taxes," Molnau said. "This plan will not only advance these transportation projects but will free up funding to advance additional projects in future years."

The accelerated projects are possible because in 2003 the Legislature authorized the sale of $400 million in highway bonds, allowing the state to access approximately $425 million in advance federal funds for 2004-07. The 20-year bonds will be repaid from $36 million per year in Mn/DOT budget savings.

Besides the 12 identified projects, the Pawlenty-Molnau package makes additional investments in highway safety and preservation projects, Metro area "transit advantages" projects and rural transit capital needs.

Orange truck

The governor and lieutenant governor drove up to the news conference in an orange truck with a sign heralding the Pawlenty-Molnau transportation-financing package: Building More. Building Faster. Moving Better." Photo by Dave Gonzalez

"For thousands of Minnesota drivers, getting from Point A to Point B will be safer and faster," Molnau said.

The new money comes just as the one-time funding for the "Moving Minnesota" projects ended on June 30.

"I am confident that as an agency we are ready for the challenges and opportunities that these new financing dollars present—especially since you’ve demonstrated recently how well Mn/DOT can deliver with the one-time funding appropriation from the 2000 Legislature," Molnau said in a letter to employees last week.

Follow this link http://www.dot.state.mn.us/financing to read more about and the Pawlenty-Molnau transportation-financing package.

By Chris Joyce


 New Strategic Plan hits the streets – and the Web

The Statewide Transportation Plan. District long-range plans. Ten-year Highway Work Plan. The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. All are important documents in Mn/DOT’s planning and programming process.

And now the department has a newly revised "Strategic Plan 2003," the foundation of all Mn/DOT planning documents. The strategic plan describes Mn/DOT’s mission and vision and sets the broad directions for the department. It reflects the values, goals and principles of the Pawlenty-Molnau Administration.

"It is the foundation for accomplishing our mission of helping Minnesotans travel safer, smarter and more efficiently," said Lt. Gov/Commissioner Carol Molnau.

The strategic plan:

  • Emphasizes improving cost-effectiveness and efficiency and creating the best value for the taxpayer

  • Focuses on taking responsible risks, measuring results and using outcomes to direct decisions

  • Encourages innovative approaches to improving the department’s work

  • Directs resources to priority investments to help people move safer, smarter and more efficiently

However, the new strategic plan is not entirely "new." It builds on the department’s long-standing strategic directions to:

  • Safeguard what exists

  • Make the transportation network operate better

  • Make Mn/DOT work better

"The new strategic plan also provides a positive direction for Mn/DOT to build more, build faster and move better," Molnau said. "With the continued hard work and commitment of Mn/DOT employees we will deliver the ambitious construction program just announced and achieve the important objectives in the plan."

Every employee will soon receive a copy of the department’s new strategic plan.

You can also access the plan on Mn/DOT’s Web site at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/information/strategicplan/.

Additional information and links to the Pawlenty-Molnau Administration Values, Goals and Principles and the Draft Revision of the 2003 Statewide Transportation Plan are available on the intranet at http://ihub.dot.state.mn.us/information/strategicplan.

For more information about the strategic plan or the statewide transportation plan, contact Abby McKenzie, Investment Management, at 651/296-6194.

"I hope employees give the new strategic plan a prominent place in their work area and refer to it often," Molnau said.

By Donna Lindberg


 Transit drivers saddle up for annual bus ‘roadeo’

Bus maneuvering obstacle course

A participant in the large bus competition takes on the diminishing clearance part of the roadeo course. Photo by Kim Lang

Challenging their skills on a rodeo course that simulated their everyday working environments, transit drivers from the Twin Cities and Northfield placed first overall in the annual Statewide Bus Roadeo held July 26 in St. Paul.

Jack Berner, Metro Transit, placed first in the large bus category; Tim Hazen, Northfield Transit, earned top honors in the small bus category.

The roadeo course tested participants’ ability to maneuver their vehicles, pass other buses safely and make smooth passenger pick-ups.

The 2003 event included participants from 26 transit systems.

The annual event sponsored by Mn/DOT brings drivers, dispatchers, supervisors and other transit system staff members together to compete in the roadeo, receive training and share their expertise.


 Quick response to driver’s concern earns praise for Metro District

The e-mail, one of scores the department receives daily, arrived on July 16 at Mn/DOT’s Information Center in the Central Office. Urgent but not brusque in tone, the message described a situation the writer termed as hazardous at the intersection of Hwy 12 and Hennepin County Road 6 in Orono.

The writer, Jan Hedberg of Mound, said faded centerline markings made turn lane boundaries unclear, creating a hazardous situation.

"This is a potentially dangerous intersection, even when the lanes are marked clearly, due to the off-center left turn lane heading west on Hwy 12," Hedberg wrote. "Recently, when approaching the intersection westbound on Hwy 12 to turn left on County Road 6, a motorist making a right-hand turn to travel east on Highway 12, thinking the white line was the center of the road, entered our lane, approaching us head-on. This was in the daytime in clear conditions. Please hear my plea and address this situation!"

Hedberg’s plea was sent on to the Metro District’s where it reached Dave Schmidt, traffic services supervisor.

"We got the note and checked it out," he said.

Schmidt said the intersection is a "high shear" area—where vehicles turning on sand left from winter maintenance operations rubbed off about a 60-foot section of the markings.

"It was part of our plan for striping," he said, "but upon hearing the citizen’s concern, we addressed it as soon as we could."

On July 19, Hedberg contacted Mn/DOT again, expressing her gratitude that the situation had been quickly resolved.

"Thank you so much for responding to my request and painting the center line on Hwy 12 so promptly. Whether it was already scheduled and a coincidence, or whether my e-mail had an impact on getting it done, I am very relieved and appreciative. It makes a huge difference!"

By Craig Wilkins