Feb. 18, 2015
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Governor, commissioner make case for increased investments in transportation

Commissioner Zelle testifies before legislative committee

Commissioner Charlie Zelle presents the governor's transportation budget proposal before the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee Feb. 11. Photo by Rich Kemp

More than 600 additional road and bridge improvements would be completed during the next 10 years if the Legislature passes the governor’s transportation investment proposal, according to a detailed list Gov. Mark Dayton and Commissioner Charlie Zelle released this week.

The governor and commissioner held two news conferences—one Feb. 17 in St. Paul and one Feb. 18 in Mankato—to provide details of what could be done if an additional $6 billion is invested in the state road and bridge system. (The governor’s transportation proposal also provides for another $5 billion that would be invested in transit for the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota areas and in local government transportation projects.)

“Minnesotans rely on these roads and bridges every day to get to work, bring their kids to school, and get their goods to market,” said Dayton. “If we fail to act, the condition of these roads and bridges will only get worse. I urge all Minnesotans to review this list of projects and decide for themselves whether these investments are worth making.”

MnDOT used the following criteria to select the projects included on the list:

  • Fixing roads in urgent need of repair – Priority was given to projects that would reduce the total miles of roadway statewide that have no remaining service life (meaning they are in very poor condition, and in need of repair). Over the next 10 years, roughly 4,370 miles of roadway on the state system will have zero remaining service life.
  • Making longer-term fixes on currently planned projects – Instead of just making temporary fixes that would need to be repaired again in just a few years, this list of projects includes upgrades of currently planned projects to make sure those repairs last longer, and would extend the useful life of more Minnesota roadways.
  • Preventing problems before they happen – Projects were included in the list that would provide for preventive maintenance that would reduce the need to do longer-term work in the near future. By preventing further deterioration, these new investments would forego the need to perform costlier fixes down the road.
  • Strategic expansion – The list also includes projects that make targeted investments in key freight routes across Minnesota that are important for business expansions, job creation and economic development.

“Our goal in developing this list is to invest in projects that will extend the life of our infrastructure as long as possible,” Zelle said.

Gov Dayton and Commissioner Zelle speak at news conference

Gov. Mark Dayton (left) and Commissioner Charlie Zelle announce that several projects along Hwy 14 could begin in three to six years if the Legislature passes the governor's transportation investment proposal. The two went to MnDOT's District 7/Mankato headquarters on Feb. 18 to make the announcement Feb. 18. Photo by Rich Kemp

At the news conference at MnDOT’s District 7/Mankato headquarters Feb. 18, Dayton and Zelle said that new investments included in the governor’s transportation funding proposal would also allow additional construction to begin on key segments of Hwy 14 and make needed safety and mobility improvements along the corridor.

“The governor’s proposal would help reduce travel times for motorists, improve safety and build a more modern transportation system that would meet the needs of this region,” Zelle said.

Specifically, the proposal would:

  • Fund the expansion of Hwy 14 to four lanes from Owatonna to Dodge Center (13 miles), and from Nicollet to New Ulm (16 miles)
  • Repair or replace six bridges and nearly 40 additional miles of pavement along Hwy 14

Without additional funds provided by the proposal, these Hwy 14 improvements would not likely be scheduled to begin anytime in the next 20 years, according to the governor. If the proposal becomes law, construction could begin on these projects within the next three to six years.

For more information:


Pile-up on I-35 during Feb. 3 storm serves as icy reminder about perils of winter driving

MnDOT traffic cameras caught this pile-up on Interstate 35 south of Faribault during a snow and ice event Feb. 3. Dozens of cars, three semis and one farm truck were involved. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in these crashes, but the incident yields safe-driving lessons for us all:

  • Slow down if you see flashing lights up ahead.
  • Always drive for the conditions.
  • Slow down when visibility is poor or if you see brake lights ahead.
  • Keep your headlights on and your cruise control off.
  • If you are in a crash, stay in your car and keep your seatbelt on until help arrives. The people behind you may not be able stop.

Safe Routes to School grants support 101 Minnesota schools

By Sue Roe

2 dozen kids and adults walking on grass along road

Appleton-Milan Elementary School students walk to school in Appleton, Minn., during Walk to School Day in May 2014. These events help students increase their physical activity and teach pedestrian safety. Photo by Lindsey Knutson

More than 100 K-12 schools in Minnesota are the latest recipients of Safe Routes to School grants that will support walking and biking programs.

Mini-grants totaling $125,000 will support the Safe Routes to School program at 64 schools, reaching nearly 40,000 students. An additional $125,000 will fund bicycle fleets, trailers and supplies in four communities committed to working with 37 schools to teach bicycle safety.

Regional partners from across Minnesota will help administer grants in their region.

The Safe Routes to School grants will support non-infrastructure activities such as training and supplies for school patrol programs, incentives and materials for events that encourage walking and biking, bicycle racks and trailers, and teacher training for the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota’s Walk! Bike! Fun! safety curriculum.

“The impact of these grants will be quite powerful for schools,” said Nicole Campbell, Safe Routes to School coordinator. “The grants will provide seed money for schools who are working on Safe Routes to School plans and programs to kick-off a new idea or purchase equipment needed for their programs.”

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded nearly $20 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding was for infrastructure projects such as constructing bike trails and adding sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic signage. For a list of projects, go to the Safe Routes to School legislative report and go to Appendix C.

In 2013, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature authorized $500,000 in general funds for Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure activities over the biennium.

In January, the governor proposed an additional $5 million investment over the next two years to continue to support biking and walking infrastructure and Safe Routes to School programs.

MnDOT announced the available grants in October 2014. The agency received 85 applications requesting approximately $538,000; it funded 68 grants. A $1 million infrastructure solicitation was also announced in October. Those state-funded awards will be announced in March.


Agency celebrates first anniversary of its Wildly Important Goal

By Rich Kemp

MnDOT offices statewide held ceremonies at the end of January and beginning of February to celebrate the first anniversary of the agency’s Wildly Important Goal, Enhancing Financial Effectiveness.

Group in front of treat table

District 1 employees enjoy refreshments during the WIG anniversary ceremony in Duluth Feb. 11. Photo by Beth Petrowske

District 1 celebrated Feb. 11 as employees at headquarter buildings in Duluth and Virginia and at each truck station acknowledged the achievements that have been made during the past year and talked about future goals. Duane Hill, District 1 engineer, shared examples of the district’s WIG initiatives and thanked employees for their efforts.

“Over the past year, all of you have worked hard to find ways to enhance financial effectiveness in the services we provide,” said Hill. “Many new ideas and goals have been put into motion that support MnDOT’s overall Wildly Important Goal. Thank you all for continuing to make MnDOT a more efficient and rewarding place to work.”

Employees in District 2 gathered Jan. 30 in Bemidji, Crookston and Thief River Falls to celebrate all that has been accomplished in the district and statewide that support enhancing MnDOT’s financial effectiveness. Celebrations were also held in truck stations across the district.

“District 2 management discussed 4DX and the WIG, as well as the WIG-supporting goals that have made a big difference in our day-to-day efficiencies,” said Reid Baumann, District 2 public affairs coordinator. “So many of our gains have come simply from awareness of where District 2 is already efficient, and where further efficiencies can come from.

“District 2 continues support of the WIG in its second year through strong engagement with the statewide battles, continued training on 4DX and efficiencies, implementation of WIG-supporting activities, and interpersonal growth and communication through our ‘Get Inspired’ program.”

2 women in front of treat table

Carolyn Marten and Jody Wills, Mankato business office, attended the District 7 WIG anniversary ceremony Jan. 30 at the district headquarters in Mankato. Photo by Rebecca Arndt

District 3 celebrated in St. Cloud, Baxter and district truck stations. One of the goals for the district was to ensure that each maintenance employee completed core equipment qualifications in loader, tandem, skid steer and tractor. The district employees completed 100 percent of their core equipment qualification, filling a 30 percent gap.

As part of the District 4 WIG celebrations, events were held in Detroit Lakes Feb. 6 and Morris Feb. 9. The other district maintenance subareas and outlying teams will celebrate during an upcoming subarea meeting.

District 6 held celebrations in Rochester and Owatonna Jan. 30. Employees enjoyed treats while watching the EFE anniversary video and receiving a status update of the various WIGs being worked on in District 6.

District 7 held celebrations Jan. 30 in Mankato, Windom and area truck stations. Greg Ous, district engineer, thanked employees for the work they do in support of MnDOT’s WIG.  

“Your efforts help show how MnDOT efficiently spends taxpayer dollars and how we do our work effectively,” said Ous.

District 8 held celebrations in Willmar Jan. 30, Marshall Feb. 2 and in Hutchinson Feb. 9.

In the Twin Cities Metro area, events were held at Waters Edge, Maryland truck station, Golden Valley Central Construction, Bridge Office, FIRST station, St. Croix Crossing and Electronic Communications.


State Transportation Conference to be held March 4-5

Minnesota's Transportation Conference will be held in Bloomington March 4-5, with an opening reception on the evening of March 3.

The event will highlight the latest innovations in transportation from around Minnesota, and will include networking opportunities with stakeholders from all sectors of transportation, presentations highlighting new research and implementation efforts on a wide variety of topics, and exhibits showcasing the latest transportation advances. 

One of the featured sessions is a panel discussion with past and present MnDOT commissioners Len Levine (1986-91), Elwyn Tinklenberg (1999-2002), Tom Sorel (2008-12) and Charlie Zelle (2013 to present). They’ll share how they met the challenges of their time and their vision for Minnesota’s transportation system of the future.

A number of MnDOT staff have helped with planning the conference and will serve as session presenters, moderators and other support at the conference.

Last year, the event was attended by more than 1,400 people.

Early registration deadline is Feb. 18. The conference website is The preliminary conference program can be downloaded at

If you have any questions about the conference, contact Brad Hamilton at


New Library Materials posted on Web

By Qin Tang

The January 2015 edition of New Library Materials is now available at This issue features library materials that can help you in preparing/giving presentations and also highlights resources to support MnDOT's Leadership Development Program.

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

Previous editions of New Library Materials are archived and available at

For other information requests, contact the Library at 651-366-3791 or e-mail, or send requests via the “Ask a Librarian” Web page at


Marv Lunceford celebrates 51 years with MnDOT

2 men and woman holding cake

Duane Leurquin, Financial Management Office director, and Sue Thompson, transportation program supervisor, help Marv Lunceford (center) celebrate 51 years of state service Feb. 5. Photo by Rich Kemp


Library receives Innovation in Action award

By Shannon Fiecke, Research Services

4 women, 1 man standing in library by award

The MnDOT Library recently received the Innovation in Action Award from the Special Libraries Association Minnesota Chapter. This award heralded the library’s work on the 2013 MnDOT Library Valuation/Return on Investment study, which found the library saves $1.90 for every $1 spent. The Special Libraries Association’s Transportation Division also recognized the ROI study last year. Library Director Sheila Hatchell said her staff has been recognized five times since 2010, including for efforts to promote redesigned space, update resources and increase outreach. From left clockwise are MnDOT library staff Marilee Tuite, Jim Byerly, Pam Gonzalez, Sheila Hatchell and Qin Tang. Not pictured are Karen Neinstadt and Danae Ostroot. Photo by Shannon Fiecke

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