April 1, 2020
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Despite challenges, MnDOT still open for business

By Margaret Anderson Kelliher

Photo: Electronic sign board displays the message stay home minnesota. Stop COVID 19. Save Lives

Our electronic highway signs featured COVID-19 messaging on Monday, March 30. Photo by Rich Kemp

These are unusual times. Through it all, MnDOT continues to provide critical services to Minnesotans – and I am so grateful for the hard work and dedication that I have seen on display across this agency over the last few weeks. Thank you.

Our roads and highways are still open. With decreases in traffic volumes as high as 55 percent statewide and 59 percent in the Twin Cities metro area this last weekend, I am heartened to see that people are responding to Governor Walz’s Stay at Home order. Please continue to limit travel outside of your home to essential needs only.

Our rest areas are still open. These areas are critical to commercial freight movement and the delivery of food, medical supplies and other goods that are critical during a pandemic. Onsite workers have personal protective equipment and are cleaning these facilities with hospital-grade disinfectants every half hour or whenever large groups leave.

Our projects are still moving ahead and the 2020 construction season will be fully underway soon. Many projects are set to begin in the next couple weeks, and Minnesotans can expect road construction projects this summer and through our normal season.

photo: Margaret Anderson Kelliher

Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Submitted photo

And while we have postponed public events through at least April 15, public engagement remains a top priority and I know that our teams across the state are working on virtual open houses and creating new ways to connect with the public we serve.

For now, we aren’t all in the same office setting – but we are all still coming to work. Many of our employees have transitioned to telecommuting, which has temporarily changed the way we conduct business. Though our buildings may be closed to the public, we are still responding via phone, email and online.

MNIT has created a new public Teleconferencing and Meetings Public Site which you use to compare solutions such as Skype and Webex. The MnDOT IT Storefront also provides some helpful resources about Remote Access options and assistance.

Please remember to take care of yourself. Your physical and mental health - and the well-being of your loved ones - is the absolute top priority. And if you need it, remember that all state employees have 24/7 access to the Employee Assistance Program for expert, personal and confidential counseling. 

We anticipate that policies and procedures will continue to change through this evolving situation. Our MnDOT COVID-19 SharePoint site should be your first stop for information and resources. You are also encouraged to review and the MDH Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website often for the latest information.

We are one MnDOT family. We’re all in this together and I’m so proud to be here with you. Thank you again for all you do, and be well.



COOP team responds to COVID-19 challenges

By Joseph Palmersheim

MnDOT’s Continuity of Operations Plans Coordination Team has been meeting daily since March 17 to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its unique set of circumstances.

The team is following the National Incident Management System departmental model for emergency operations center organization. Response functions on the team currently includes Operations, Human Resources, Communications, MNIT, Legal and Finance. The team works together to address issues and develop policy related to the COVID-19 virus, ensuring a consistent agency-wide response. It’s the latest use of COOP to support the Continuity of Government and guide the agency in continuing priority services through all types of business interruptions.

Continuity of Operations Plans identify critical priority services and address considerations for alternate facilities/teleworking, human resources, communications and orders of succession. Additionally, continuity planning includes conducting hazards assessments of the building operations to identify vulnerabilities with mitigation strategies. MnDOT has a primary COOP coordinator along with COOP point of contacts in each district. The agency works closely with COOP coordinators across executive branch agencies for continuity planning, training and exercising.

“MnDOT responds to emergencies across the state of Minnesota on a regular basis in accordance with the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan and our own emergency operations plan,” said Todd Haglin, emergency management and safety director. “MnDOT’s emergency response is generally outward focused on maintaining MnDOT infrastructure and assisting communities with response to incidents, such as flooding. COOP is focused inward, ensuring that we can maintain our critical services should there be a disruption to the resources we normally have to conduct our day-to-day business.”

The goal of continuity of operations is to build resiliency and sustainability into MnDOT’s mission, vision and core values, said Carol Magurany-Brotski, Emergency Management planner.

“We are constantly planning, building, servicing and responding to the needs of all of our stakeholders,” she said. “Overall, MnDOT has done pretty well in responding to this level of an event. Leadership and the COOP COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center members have been excellent. All employees are doing their best in changes and challenges. COVID-19 has raised the bar for everyone. What we have learned is that all planning can be better.”

As COVID-19 subsides, MnDOT will conduct an after-action review to assess what went well and examine opportunities for improvement, Magurany-Brotski said.



Finance office makes digital pivot, continues long-term projects

By Joseph Palmersheim

For the Office of Finance, transitioning to a decentralized, telework setting has seen some venerable tools put to rest: a 1970s typewriter, adding machines, accounting green and white paper, pencils and paper files.
Since COVID-19 impacted the way MnDOT does business, Finance has partnered with the Office of Human Resources for payroll guidance, and the Technology Investment Management team provided the agency payroll staff with the tools to complete employee payroll while working from home.

“It has been an amazing journey how well we’ve transitioned to this new way of business,” said Betty Lucas, Finance assistant office director. “It showed us what is possible when we set our minds to it. Finance is working to serve MnDOT, just differently.”

The Office of Administration is providing leadership for the digital conversion of federal highway accounting folders from paper to electronic. This involves moving federal project accounting work from paper to electronic files, along with creating electronic versions of handwritten notes stored in a colored folder, colored paper system.

Finally, staff are working with MNIT at both MnDOT and the Department of Human Services to implement an online payments system currently in operation at DHS. The goal is to reduce the number of paper checks and cash MnDOT receives for payments related to items like permits, licenses and damage restitution.



2020 Census continues despite COVID-19 impact

By Jenni Undis, Minnesota State Demographics Center

Graphic: We count MN. Census 2020

The Census Bureau sent letters to households across the country last month, asking everyone to participate in the 2020 Census. Now, more than ever, it’s important for everyone to be counted. If you haven’t done so already, you can go online and respond today at

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing dramatic changes to daily life, it might feel like everything else has been put on hold. But the census continues. It only happens once every 10 years, and our community will be affected by the results until the next one in 2030.

The results of this year’s census will be used for the next decade to guide the distribution of funding for services that many are relying on now, such as healthcare, first responders, unemployment insurance and loans from the Small Business Administration. Census results also impact political representation; this year, Minnesota is at risk of losing our eighth congressional seat. A complete and accurate count of all Minnesotans will ensure a fair distribution of resources, and help secure our current level of representation in Washington.

This is the first year that the census can be completed online ( or by phone (844-330-2020). Either way, it’s simple and secure. You’ll be asked for basic information about yourself and anyone else who lives with you: name, age, sex and race. If you don’t respond online or by phone, a form will be delivered to your home in April. It’s easy to fill out and free to mail back. Census takers will start making in-person visits in late May to addresses that haven’t responded.

There are many resources available if you want to know more. Text questions about the census to 662020 or visit for more in-depth information about why the census matters to all Minnesotans.



Crews raise Stillwater Lift Bridge for boat traffic

By Kent Barnard, Metro District Communications and Engagement

Photo: workers on the Stillwater Lift Bridge

It took construction crews four hours to raise the lift span of the Stillwater Lift Bridge March 26 to allow for boat traffic to pass through on the St. Croix River. Marine traffic will now be able to pass through while construction crews continue making repairs to the structure's lift system. Photo by Kent Barnard

With an eye on the weather forecast and threat of rain the next day, crews working for MnDOT raised the lift span of the Stillwater Lift Bridge March 26 to allow for boat traffic to pass through on the St. Croix River.

It took workers four hours to finish raising and locking the lift span in the raised position. Marine traffic can pass through the bridge while construction crews continue making repairs to the lift system of the bridge. Once the bridge is complete and the loop trail opens, MnDOT will continue to raise the lift bridge to accommodate boat navigation on the St. Croix River.

Transformation of the lift bridge to a bicycle/pedestrian crossing began in August 2017. When completed and opened later this spring, the bridge will be part of a new 4.7-mile loop trail system in Minnesota and Wisconsin that includes the St. Croix River Crossing bridge, and other local and regional trails.

More information on the Stillwater Lift bridge project



On the Job: Trumanue Lindsey enjoys work in Bridge Office

By Rich Kemp

Metro District's Trumanue Lindsey works with the Bridge Office in Oakedale. The 19-year MnDOT employee drafts preliminary and final structural plans and architectural drawings. When asked to name a favorite project, he said, “I look at them all as equally important because I’m serving the public.” The image below is linked to a larger version.

Trumanue says I review and ensure project information meets policies and standards. I suppose the bridge office by drafting preliminary and final structural plans and architectural drawings. I develop complete material lists and accurately compute constract pay quantities so that a reliable cost estimate can be made by the project engineers. What do you find interesting about your job? Being and playing an active part of MnDOT's mission and core values, which is to plan, build, operate and maintain a safe, accessible, efficient and reliable multimodal transportation system that connects people to destinations and markets around the world. My favorite part of my job is being able to see and utilize the final product of my work.

Do you or a co-worker have an interesting job to share with readers? Send us your ideas, and we’ll contact you for more information. 

Recent employee profiles: 


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