Oct. 26, 2011
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Upper Sioux community partners with MnDOT to repair Hwy 67

By Bob Filipczak


A sign lets Hwy 67 motorists in Yellow Medicine County know the work zone they are traveling through is a collaborative project between the Upper Sioux community and MnDOT. Photo by Joel Wenz  

Crews completed resurfacing work on Hwy 67 in Yellow Medicine County Oct. 17, marking an end to the $2.3 million project and the beginning of a new partnership.   

Work on Hwy 67, the main road through the Upper Sioux Reservation in southwest Minnesota, began this summer. As the process got rolling, Susann Karnowski, District 8 program and project development engineer, set up meetings with her new partners in the Upper Sioux community to identify roles:

  • MnDOT would do the engineering, planning and contract administration.
  • The Upper Sioux would provide the funding, which came from the Federal Highway Administration and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The tribe also would let the contract and hold it once assigned.

Karnowski worked closely with the Upper Sioux during the initial planning and design meetings, first listening to what they needed, then helping define the scope of the project.

“I think what I came out of this with was a better understanding that we really have the same goals and the same issues,” Karnowski said. “There’s a lot we can do together.”

The partnership decided to do a cold in-place recycle process that involved removing the top few inches of pavement, grinding up and adding oil to the underlying pavement structure and paving a new bituminous surface on top. This is a longer-term solution for roads because it gets deeper into the surface and repairs fundamental cracks in the road so they don’t percolate to the surface in a few years, according to Karnowski.

While her Upper Sioux partners learned the ins and outs of contracting, the project helped Karnowski re-examine her own processes, which she said can be a bit automatic at times.

“It really forced me to think about why we do certain things and whether we have any flexibility,” Karnowski said. “I think that was our challenge as we developed the project, but a very beneficial thing at the end. It gave me a chance to step back and really think about why we do things that we do.”

Nothing specific has been proposed, but Karnowski plans to work with the Upper Sioux on future projects. There are other sections of Hwy 67 that may need work. Hwy 274, which runs very close to the Upper Sioux lands, is another possible opportunity for cooperation. 

“I think that having that strengthened relationship as we work with them on future projects is really going to help,” Karnowski said.

A video highlighting the cooperative efforts behind the Hwy 67 project is being shown at the Tribes and Transportation conference. It will be available on YouTube in the next few days.

FHWA staff visit for firsthand look at sustainability evaluation tool

Federal Highway Administration staff recently traveled from Washington D. C. to Minnesota to learn more about MnDOT’s experience using the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool.

INVEST consists of a collection of best practices and a scoring system used to measure how well sustainability is integrated into transportation planning, project development and operations.

FHWA staff met with MnDOT staff to see firsthand how INVEST was tested. They also visited two projects evaluated using the tool—Hwy 95 in the Metro District and Hwy 248 in District 6—and met with staff involved in the evaluation of three additional Greater Minnesota projects.

FHWA staff

(From left) Connie Hill, FHWA; Michael Culp, FHWA; Todd Clarkowski, Metro District area engineer; and Heather Holsinger, FHWA, discuss the Hwy 95 project near Stillwater. Photo by Cindy Carlsson

INVEST is being developed by the FHWA for use by transportation agencies nationwide. The FHWA released it in beta version in October 2010 and asked MnDOT to be the nation’s first transportation department to test it.

“MnDOT was ready to conduct a broad inventory of our current practices as they relate to sustainability,” said Cindy Carlsson, MnDOT’s sustainability manager. “INVEST was consistent with MnDOT’s definition of sustainability and our programmatic approach. Although still in development, it seemed like the right tool at the right time.”

A consultant objectively reviewed and reported on agency sustainability practices and identified areas for future improvement, while MnDOT provided feedback to the FHWA as they refined the tool.

INVEST is still being refined by the FHWA. During the next few months, MnDOT will continue to review the evaluation results and determine which recommendations to move forward with.

For more information on the sustainability flagship initiative, visit


E-magination JAM ideas progress, E-JAM 2 set to begin

By Stephany Osuji, Customer Relations

ejam logo

As ideas from the inaugural E-magination JAM continue to make headway, the department is set to launch E-JAM 2 in the coming weeks. E-JAM 2 will be a virtual space where employees submit ideas that focus on new cost saving concepts and share information about what the department is doing to increase efficiency in operations.

E-JAM launched in 2009 as a virtual collaboration space where employees could offer ideas related to MnDOT’s five strategic directions—Safety, Mobility, Innovation, Leadership and Transparency. The ideas were submitted as a means to improve processes and allow offices/divisions to perform their jobs in ways that better serve the public.

The Office of Policy Analysis, Research & Innovation then reviewed the submitted ideas and the Steward Council selected three major themes as flagship initiatives—Tech Connections, Sustainability and Workplace of Choice. These three major themes focused on E-JAM ideas as well as existing projects and programs to create an overall program to improve various areas of the department.    

Here is a look at some highlights from the first E-JAM:

Tech Connections

  • Installation of public wireless network in MnDOT Library
  • Opening of social media and streaming video to all employees—e-learning training developed and delivered
  • Moving forward with SharePoint implementation project for a Transportation Innovation Knowledge Network website, MySites, collaboration sites and Lync
  • Implementation of Microsoft SharePoint
  • Acquisition of SMART Board equipment for Central Office conference rooms


  • Adoption of Sustainability definition for the agency
  • Introduction of internal sustainability teams and employee resources to implement sustainable practices in the workplace
  • Evaluation of the sustainability of MnDOT practices using  FHWA’s Sustainable Highway Evaluation tool—provides a baseline for MnDOT’s current sustainable practices and identifies priorities and next steps for implementation
  • Continued development of a sustainable vision for transportation through Minnesota GO

Workplace of Choice

  • New core team assessing and re-evaluating the initiative to determine any needed direction in changes—plans to rebrand as “I Choose MnDOT”
  • Two major projects to launch soon
    • The “Leadership Model” seeks to develop leadership capacity for any MnDOT employee who wants it
    • “We are MnDOT: A Look Inside” will provide tools and information to equip employees as MnDOT ambassadors
For more information on the E-magination JAM flagship initiatives, visit Stay tuned for updates on E-JAM 2.

Commissioner's next book discussion set for Nov. 9

Employees are invited to attend the latest Commissioner’s Reading Corner discussion Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 1:30 p.m., in the MnDOT Library at Central Office.

Celine Carpenter, executive assistant to the Commissioner, Heidi Bryand, executive assistant to the deputy commissioner and chief engineer, and Jeff Ostrom, senior staff marketing specialist, will lead a discussion entitled “John Maxwell meets Jerry Seinfeld.” The discussion leaders will compare various laws from John C. Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” to clips from the 1990’s television sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Employees also can participate virtually via Adobe Connect and should log in as a guest no earlier than 1:15 a.m. All employees are encouraged to attend, even if they have not yet read the book, according to Qin Tang, MnDOT librarian.

This will be the seventh CRC event of the 2011 season. Bernie Arseneau, deputy commissioner and chief engineer, will lead a Dec. 7 discussion of “The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams that Win Consistently,” by Tony Dungy.

For more information on the Commissioner’s Reading Corner, visit ihub/readingcorner. Employees with questions can contact Qin Tang at 651-366-3784.


Diversity Council to host European-American Leaders in Transportation event Oct. 31

By Jessica Wiens

The Diversity Council invites all employees to participate in the European Leaders in Transportation brown bag event Monday, Oct. 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Employees can participate in person at Central Office rooms G13-G14 or via Adobe Connect.

Speakers will discuss the vastness of European countries and cultures. They also will share information about transportation in European countries.

A panel of employees will share several aspects and traditions of their cultural heritage. Panel participants include:

  • Meredith Biddle, Affirmative Action  
  • Kristen Jorenby, Affirmative Action 
  • Serge Philips, Government Affairs   
  • Lucy Kender, Human Resources 

“Imagine being a 16-year-old girl, leaving the only home you know and traveling thousands of miles away to start a new life—by  yourself,” said panel participant Lucy Kender, Human Resources. “I’ll share the rest of that story about my great-great-grandmother, Mary Louise Murphy.” 

Instructions for joining the event via Adobe Connect are available at the Diversity Council’s iHUB page.


On the job: Holly Kostrzewski strives to reduce highway fatalities in northern Minnesota

By Jessica Wiens

Holly and Kristine

(From left) Holly Kostrzewski, northern region TZD coordinator, and Kristine Hernandez, statewide/southeastern region TZD coordinator, stand by a kiosk used to educate Minnesotans about traffic safety engineering solutions such as roundabouts and Smart Lanes at the State Fair and other events. MnDOT file photo

Toward Zero Deaths is a Minnesota partnership to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes on all Minnesota roads. Holly Kostrzewski has been the northern region Toward Zero Deaths coordinator for nearly one year. She serves MnDOT District 1 and District 2.

Prior to joining the TZD statewide team, Holly worked on similar issues at the local tribal level for the Fond du Lac Reservation for nearly seven years. She focused on traffic safety and injury prevention initiatives on several different reservations across the United States.

The current statewide TZD goal is fewer than 350 deaths and 850 serious injuries by 2014. As of Wednesday, Oct. 26, there have been 279 deaths on Minnesota roads in 2011—that is 61 fewer than at this time last year.      

In general, what type of work you do?

I work with communities to change behavior that will reduce motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and serious injuries. We incorporate engineering, enforcement, emergency medical services and education—known as the four E’s—to make this happen. I am responsible for growing the northern regional TZD program.  

Can you describe your typical workday?

Every day is an adventure. I work closely with all four E’s. Each group has its own language, priorities, missions and values. Jumping from public health professionals, to ambulance drivers, to engineers, to the county sheriff makes my day interesting. In the past month, I delivered a presentation in a garage to educate UPS drivers, sat in a high school coach’s office talking about driver’s education and then literally ran across the street to present to county commissioners. I also have a vast geographical region to cover. This first year I spent a lot of time on the road introducing myself and TZD to many partners. Now, we are seeking alternative ways to meet via webinar, conference calls or Adobe Connect.

What traffic safety goals do you have for the northern region?

It is my priority to set up meetings in each county in the northern region to connect the four E’s, review data, learn about ongoing traffic safety efforts and move forward with next steps. This process has been interesting and rewarding. The focus areas for northern Minnesota mirror the statewide contributing factors to crashes—speed, distraction, lack of seatbelts and alcohol.

What are some challenges that you face in your day-to-day work?

I work with rural communities and the distances between these communities make it difficult for some to connect with other traffic safety partners at steering committee meetings. For some, it takes more than eight hours to drive to and from a meeting. I really need to make it worth the local traffic partners’ driving time.   

What do you like best about your position?

I have the best job ever. TZD is public health at its finest using an interdisciplinary team approach to change behaviors and reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roadways. One of my favorite fringe benefits is the hard hat I received. I don’t know any other public health professional who has a state-issued hard hat.

How is the regional work you do complementary to the statewide TZD efforts?

As a state, we are a national leader in traffic safety initiatives; however, we will lower our fatality and serious injury numbers region by region and county by county.

Editor’s note: Amy Roggenbuck serves as the regional TZD coordinator for southwestern and south central Minnesota, which includes District 7 and District 8. Kristine Hernandez is the statewide TZD coordinator and the southeastern Minnesota regional coordinator, which includes District 6. All three work for both the Department of Public Safety and MnDOT. TZD officials plan to hire another regional coordinator for District 3 and District 4.

Do you or a co-worker have an interesting job to share with readers? Click here to send us your ideas, and we’ll contact you for more information.
Recent employee profiles:


Around MnDOT


(From left) Commissioner Tom Sorel receives the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s Smart Solution Spotlight award from Scott Belcher, President and CEO of ITS America. Photo by Nick Carpenter

MnDOT receives national award for using innovative technology

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America presented MnDOT with the Smart Solution Spotlight award Oct. 7 for its use of smart technology to reduce traffic congestion and improve rural highway safety while saving Minnesota taxpayers money.

The Smart Solution Spotlight award recognizes innovative projects across the country that are using Intelligent Transportation Systems to manage the transportation network more efficiently while improving public safety, economic competitiveness and the environment.

”We are working hard in Minnesota to make our roadways safer and manage congestion as efficiently as possible, within certain financial constraints,” said Commissioner Tom Sorel. “ITS allows us to better use the existing road capacity. It allows us to provide safer, more reliable transportation in the context of what we already have.”

For more information on the award, click here.


iHUB search engine now powered by Google

Employees may have noticed that iHUB, MnDOT’s intranet, now uses the Google Search Appliance.

Every webpage on iHUB has the search box in the top right corner. Searches can now be performed faster with more relevant results. The interfaces of the new search page and advanced search page are simpler and more user-friendly for employees.

The Google Search Appliance will be implemented on MnDOT’s external website in November.

Employees with issues finding documents or websites using the new search engine can email MnDOT’s web team at


Utility Agreements and Permits Unit moves to new Central Office location

Employees looking for the Office of Land Management’s Utility Agreements and Permits Unit can now find staff on the eighth floor on the southeast side of the Central Office building. The unit moved from the sixth floor of CO on Oct. 20.

Utility Agreements and Permits Unit staff are located in the area that previously housed the Project Coordination and Finance Unit, which has now relocated to eighth floor southwest.

Utility Agreements and Permits staff that relocated to eighth floor include:

  • Marilyn Remer, Utility Agreements and Permits Unit supervisor
  • Jim Zigman, Agreements
  • Mollie Zauner, Agreements
  • Sophia Wicklund, Agreements
  • Ann Driver, Permits
  • Ron Richards, Permits
  • Sam Muench, Permits
  • Stacy Kotch, Permits
  • Angela Fabel, Permits

Employees with interoffice mail for Utility Agreements and Permits Unit staff should send to Mail Stop 678. 

For more information, contact Linda Bergen, Office of Land Management, at 651-366-3501.


New Library Materials posted on Web
By Qin Tang

The September 2011 edition of New Library Materials is now available at

Several titles related to Microsoft 2000 are included in this issue. Employees who recently migrated to Microsoft 2010 and would like to learn more about the features of Outlook, Word or Excel, can look at the new resources.

Archived editions of New Library Materials are available at

New Library Materials is a compilation of new titles and other resources added to the library collection during the previous month. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please contact Pam Gonzalez at 651-366-3749.

For other information requests, contact the library at 651-366-3791 or email Employees can also send requests via the “Ask a Librarian” web page at

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