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March 16, 2005    No. 148
  This week's top stories
 Public comment sought on draft Statewide Freight Plan
 Hwy 212 project moves forward with selection of apparent best value design team
 Promotional campaign begins for ABC parking ramps in downtown Minneapolis
 Mn/DOT extends contract with KBEM for one year
 Hwy 10 in Anoka County earns pavement durability award
 District 7 celebrates National Surveyors Week
 Penney, Stein take district management posts at Detroit Lakes, Baxter
 Taking volunteer snowplow shifts leads Willmar employees to new insights

 Public comment sought on draft Statewide Freight Plan

Freight plan graphic
The Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations released its first-ever statewide plan for freight transportation on March 14. The draft plan is open for public comments through April 15.

Mn/DOT invites public comment on its first-ever statewide plan for freight transportation, which was released March 14. The draft plan is a document for improving mobility on important statewide trade routes and exploring public-private partnerships for developing improved policies and funding mechanisms.

Mn/DOT developed the Freight Plan in coordination with representatives of shippers, carriers, academia, business groups, metropolitan and regional planning organizations and local, state and federal governments.

"The plan identifies system deficiencies on the statewide freight system, which include trucking, rail, waterways, air cargo and intermodal facilities,” said Cecil Selness, Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations director. “The plan also recommends planning and programmatic solutions to address the growing challenge of freight mobility."

The public comment period is from March 14-April 15.

To review the draft plan electronically and provide comment, go to the Mn/DOT Freight Plan Web site http://www.dot.state.mn.us/ofrw/statewide_plan.htm. For printed copies, contact John Tompkins, Freight Plan project manager, at 651/406-4808 or john.tompkins@dot.state.mn.us.

By Donna Lindberg


 Hwy 212 project moves forward with selection of apparent best value design team

Hwy 212 map
Construction of a four-lane freeway on a new alignment from Eden Prairie to Dahlgren in the southwest Twin Cities metro area is expected to begin June 2005.

Zumbro River Constructors is the apparent best value design team for the Hwy 212 design-build project to construct a four-lane freeway on a new alignment from Eden Prairie to Dahlgren in the southwest Twin Cities metro area.

Design-build projects are awarded using a formula that divides the dollar value of the bid by the technical score to determine which team is the best value for the project.

ZRC was the apparent best value winner with a price proposal of $238 million and a technical score of 89. At $238 million, this project is the largest highway project ever let by Mn/DOT. ZRC had both the highest technical score and the lowest price proposal.   

Before the state contract is formally awarded, however, a number of requirements must first be met, including having ZRC submit documentation regarding their subcontractors with disadvantaged business enterprise firms and obtaining clearances for various agreements including signal, municipal, county and master utility agreements.  

The Hwy 212 project is one of the projects accelerated by the 2003 Pawlenty-Molnau Administration transportation funding package. The project will be completed in 2008—three years earlier than originally scheduled.

Construction will begin June 2005.

By Kay Korsgaard


 Promotional campaign begins for ABC parking ramps in downtown Minneapolis

ABC Ramps promotional ad
“Think of the extra $1200 as a gift from the carpooling-fairy-godmother," begins the ad copy on this poster promoting the ABC parking ramps. The promotional campaign runs March through May.

“Think of the extra $1200 as a gift from the carpooling-fairy-godmother.”

This line is from one of the new ads Mn/DOT and its partners are using to promote the three ABC parking ramps (formerly known as the Third Avenue Distributor garages) at Fourth, Fifth and Seventh streets north between First and Third avenues in downtown Minneapolis.

The ads will run March through May in the Star Tribune and Skyway News. In addition, posters will hang in downtown skyways and information brochures will be provided in the skyways and at Metro Transit centers, the downtown Transportation Management Organization and at city halls and local libraries.

The “extra $1200 gift” is the estimated average amount that carpoolers would save annually using the ABC parking ramps.

Constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of the Interstate-394 high occupancy vehicle lane project, the parking ramps are owned by Mn/DOT and operated by the city of Minneapolis.    

“The goal of the project was to create a shift in transportation mode from single occupant vehicles to car pools, van pools and transit,” said Al Pint, project manager of the original I-394 construction. “Incentives were developed to encourage car pooling by providing access to the HOV lane during peak hours and substantially reduced parking rates at the ramps.”

The number of car pool and single occupant vehicle contracts has fallen in recent years, in part because of lower office occupancy. Many commuters perceive that carpooling results in a loss of autonomy in getting to and from work. Also, eligibility for low-cost car pool contracts in the ABC Ramps is limited to commuters living in areas where they would logically commute into Minneapolis using I-394 or from the northwest suburbs using I-94.  

“We’re optimistic that the campaign will increase both the number of car pool contracts but SOV contracts, as well,” says project manager Darryl Anderson, Office of Transit. “And we’re particularly fortunate that the campaign dovetails nicely with the opening of the MnPASS I-394 Express Lane project.”

ABC Ramps map
The ABC parking ramps are located at Fourth, Fifth and Seventh streets north between First and Third avenues in downtown Minneapolis.

The ABC Ramps promotions were developed through a partnership of Mn/DOT, the city of Minneapolis, Metro Commuter Services, the downtown TMO and a professional ad agency. The promotions are being coordinated with the MnPASS I-394 Express Lane project, which is expected to begin in May. ABC Ramps information will be available at MnPASS stores opening in April.  

Visit the ABC Ramps Web site for more information or contact Anderson at 651/297-2136.

Click here for more information about MnPASS.

 By Donna Lindberg


 Mn/DOT extends contract with KBEM for one year

Amending a decision it made two months ago, Mn/DOT decided March 8 that it would provide $200,000 for one more year so that KBEM can continue broadcasting Twin Cities metro area traffic reports through March 14, 2006.

KBEM is a public radio station owned by the Minneapolis school district with which Mn/DOT has partnered for 15 years to provide traffic information to Twin Cities drivers and listeners of the jazz station. In January, Mn/DOT announced that it would discontinue its contract with the station as of March 15, 2005, citing budgetary reasons and the fact that other sources of traffic information have grown dramatically since the service started.  

Mn/DOT changed its decision last week in order to help the radio station transition to self-sufficiency through public and private donations by the time the contract ends next year, according to Bernie Arseneau, state traffic engineer and director of the Office of Traffic, Security and Operations. He said the $200,000 is intended to subsidize the operational costs of KBEM only until next March.

“Mn/DOT does not plan to provide money to KBEM for the traffic information service after March 14, 2006,” Arseneau said. KBEM will continue to have access to the Regional Transportation Management Center for three years for their broadcasts.

Mn/DOT offers statewide road and traffic information over the phone at 5-1-1 and at the Web site www.511mn.org. The 511 site also has links to Mn/DOT's real-time traffic cameras and a Twin Cities metro area congestion map. Mn/DOT has added travel-time information to more than 30 electronic message signs over metro-area highways.  

Click here to read the Jan. 5 Mn/DOT Newsline article.


 Hwy 10 in Anoka County earns pavement durability award

Design and construction of a three-mile section of Hwy 10 in Anoka County earned honors for Mn/DOT because of the road’s durability since it was built in 1966.

Mn/DOT received the Perpetual Pavement Award from the national Asphalt Paving Alliance.

The award cites the bituminous pavement’s performance in withstanding ever-increasing traffic levels on the roadway in Anoka and Coon Rapids in the northwestern quadrant of the Twin Cities metro area without being reconstructed.

In 1978, the three-mile section was milled by two inches and overlaid with 3.5 inches of hot-mix asphalt.

“Even though this pavement has been punished by nearly 40 years of use, motorists are still using the original pavement structure,” said Pete Alex, APA co-chair. “The extraordinary performance of this pavement is worthy of attention.”

“This pavement has lasted because of good structural design and good pavement design,” said Pat Hughes, Metro District Engineer.

Mn/DOT received a previous pavement award from the APA for the design and construction of Hwy 71 between Park Rapids and the Hubbard County line that was constructed in 1964 by Bemidji/District 2.

Luke Strango, APA co-chair, said, “The awards represent an industry standard which is extremely well-represented by this section of Hwy 10. This pavement is a testimony to high-performance asphalt as a marriage of excellent design and quality construction.”

More information about the APA can be found at www.AsphaltAlliance.com.


 District 7 celebrates National Surveyors Week

 Man at laptop
Cole Morano, a student worker in surveys at Mankato, demonstrates the use of digital aerial photographs for surveying at the Mankato District headquarters. Photo by Wendy Meyer

Surveyors at the Mankato District marked National Surveyors Week March 15 with displays of plats, maps, aerial photographs and several generations of surveying equipment.

Steve Jobe, district land surveyor, said the event raised the awareness of the surveyors’ roles in the district and throughout the department.

The equipment shown included the manual transits used until the 1980s, the “total station” equipment used in the 1990s and the latest global positioning system-based systems that use satellite networks to provide highly precise digital measurements electronically.

Jobe, recently elected president of the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors, said the event may be moved next year to allow greater public participation.

“Two private surveying firms from Mankato expressed interest in our exhibit,” Jobe said. “Perhaps next year we can work together to hold it at a college or in the city’s armory to raise greater public awareness of the services surveyors provide.”


 Penney, Stein take district management posts at Detroit Lakes, Baxter

 Joy Penney
Joy Penney will become the administrative manager for Detroit Lakes beginning March 23. Photo by David Gonzalez

Joy Penney, Detroit Lakes, and Sue Stein, Owatonna, accepted new positions as district administrative managers at Detroit Lakes and Baxter.

Penney, currently an office services supervisor with District 4, will succeed Dan Swanson, who will retire in mid-2005. Swanson has held his current position since 1975, one year after he joined the department. Penney’s appointment begins March 23.

Stein, the business manager at Owatonna, succeeds Tom Barna at the District 3 headquarters in Baxter. Stein’s appointment starts March 23.

In their new posts, Penney and Stein will manage district functions that include human resources, labor relations, financial and budget administration, safety, materials management and public affairs.

Penney, whose Mn/DOT career started in 1991, has served District 4 as its public affairs coordinator, employee development specialist, business operations coordinator as well as her current post.

 Sue Stein
Sue Stein, currently the business manager at Owatonna, takes over as administrative manager for District 3 in Baxter on March 23. Photo by David Gonzalez

A native of Frazee, Penney holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. She may be reached at 218/846-0792.

Stein, a Fairfax native, began her Mn/DOT career in 1988 as an automotive parts technician at Golden Valley. She became a materials supervisor at Duluth 1995 and transferred to the Rochester District in 1997 in the same capacity.

Stein was appointed as the business manager at Owatonna in 2000.

Her background includes experience in financial administration, materials management, staffing and safety administration with Mn/DOT and private firms.

Stein may be reached at 218/828-2467.

By Craig Wilkins


 Taking volunteer snowplow shifts leads Willmar employees to new insights

Highly descriptive, first-person accounts of experiences shared by two volunteer snowplow operators at the Willmar District lead the current issue of the District 8 News.

In their stories, Tony Cairns, an employee development specialist, and Keith Voss, program and development engineer, recount plowing highways in the Willmar region following a Jan. 21-22 storm that packed 40 miles per hour winds and dropped six to eight inches of snow.    

They plowed Hwy 71 and Hwy 23 together, taking turns driving.

Their experience left them both with heightened respect and appreciation for the skills, judgment and professionalism required to keep roads passable and safe.  

“The people who work in maintenance are hard-working, professional employees who take great pride in their work,” Voss said. “They know what it takes to get clear pavement by taking charge and getting the job done.”

Their full accounts can be read in the newsletter on the district’s Web site. Highlights from other recently issued district newsletters include Rochester’s News at 6 , which explains how the district plans to expand the use of electronic traffic management tools in the Rochester area, and the Metro District’s Metro News, which presents and an outline of Metro’s “2008 – 2030 Transportation Plan.”  

Readers can access the district newsletters from Mn/DOT’s iHUB Web page under “News.”