July 26, 2023
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District 4, Douglas County partner for interchange improvements

By Emma Olson, District 4

Photo of a crew working with concrete

Concrete crews pour the final section of the roundabout at the eastbound ramp sat the I-94 and Hwy 27 interchange. Photo by Dan Kuhn

Alexandria area travelers are now seeing double at the I-94 and Hwy 27 interchange, with matching roundabouts at the eastbound and westbound ramps. Construction on both roundabouts started in May and the interchange reopened on July 7.

The improvements were the direct result of a 2019 study conducted by MnDOT and Douglas County. Long queuing, intersection safety, and traffic flow and mobility were among the top concerns for the public. Several designs were considered, but ultimately roundabouts were selected as the best choice.

“This interchange has a history of drivers making U-turns due to missing their turn, which has led to several severe injury crashes. The roundabouts help to improve those wayfinding issues and keep traffic flowing. Now vehicles are entering the intersections at slower speeds, and can safely U-turn when needed,” said Brian Bausman, MnDOT Project Manager.

Although designed and constructed concurrently, the projects are located on two different highway systems—the eastbound ramps fall within the state highway system on Hwy 27, and the westbound ramps are on the county highway system at Cty Rds 45 and 46. This meant the projects’ lettings were handled separately, leading to a unique construction situation: two prime contractors.

Michels Road & Stone, was the prime contractor for the $3.3 million MnDOT project, and Central Specialties, was the prime contractor for the $2.9 million Douglas County project. MnDOT took the lead on construction inspections for both projects.

Fortunately, the two contractors maintained similar schedules throughout construction and both sides of the interchange reopened on-time and at the same time.

“This entire project has been a great example of successful partnerships,” Bausman stated. “During both design and construction, we aligned on our common goals, listened to the public, and built the right solution. As a project manager, that’s exactly the outcome you want.”

Visit the project website to learn more.



Corridors of Commerce program to provide additional $380 million in state grants for transportation projects

Screenshot of a MnDOT video explaining the Hwy 23 South Gap project, which is funded by the Corridors of Commerce program. Watch the full video on the agency’s YouTube channel.

MnDOT will allocate $380 million to fund eight new infrastructure projects through the state’s Corridors of Commerce program.

“We’re making historic investments in our state’s transportation system to improve the safety and connectivity of communities across the state,” Gov. Tim Walz announced in a news release July 11. “We depend on our roads and highways to safely get us to our jobs, education, childcare and businesses. These projects help grow our economy and support our goal of making Minnesota the best state to live, work and grow up in – no matter where you live.”

The projects receiving funding in 2023 include:

  • Hwy 13 (Savage/Burnsville) – Grade separations from Quentin to Nicollet avenues: $96 million
  • Interstate 94 (Albertville to Monticello) – Lane expansion: $78 million
  • Hwy 14/County State Aid Highway 44 (Byron) – Grade separation: $60 million
  • Hwy 371/Hwy 210 (Baxter) – Grade separation: $58 million
  • Hwy 23/MN 9 (New London) – Grade separation: $33 million
  • Hwy 65 (Blaine) – Grade separations from 103rd to 117th avenues: $30 million
  • Hwy 53 (Eveleth to Virginia) – Roadway improvements: $18 million
  • Hwy 10 (Coon Rapids) – Lane expansion from CSAH 78 to CSAH 9: $8 million

“We appreciate the work of our many local partners who submitted Corridors of Commerce funding proposals,” said Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger. “While transportation funding needs are significant in communities across our state, MnDOT is grateful to the Legislature for making historic infrastructure investments this session and we’ll continue partnering with proposers to explore other funding options for projects that did not receive funding in this round of the Corridors of Commerce program.”

This is the fourth round of Corridors of Commerce funding provided by the Minnesota Legislature. The program includes a total of $403 million—$250 million authorized by the Legislature in 2021 and $153 million provided in 2023. $22 million will be reserved for project readiness activities for potential future Corridors of Commerce candidate projects.
The Corridors of Commerce program was created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013 with a goal of focusing transportation investments on state highway projects that directly and indirectly foster economic growth for the state of Minnesota. The program is outside of MnDOT’s regular State Road Construction program and Corridors of Commerce funding is dependent on legislative appropriation. The authorizing statute (161.088) also includes specific requirements for project eligibility and scoring.

In addition to this year’s Corridors of Commerce funding, the omnibus transportation bill included $6 billion for transportation and will allow MnDOT and its partners at the Metropolitan Council and local and tribal governments to make investments in the state’s multimodal transportation system.

More information about the Corridors of Commerce program, including past awards and recent applicants, can be found on MnDOT’s Corridors of Commerce webpage.


2022-23 winter most expensive in MnDOT history

By Anne Meyer

Photo: a view through the front window of the a snowplow while the plow is out on the road

Whiteout conditions seen from a plow camera in District 4 on Dec. 24, 2022. Photo courtesy of District 4

The 2022-23 winter season was one for the record books. The snow started early in October and didn’t end until late April or May, in some areas. MnDOT crews tackled challenging storms all season, like the one that closed more than 2,000 miles of highway in southwest Minnesota two days before Christmas. Or the mid-February storm that dumped 12-20 inches of snow in less than 48 hours across the state.

It was also the most expensive season in MnDOT’s history, with total costs near $174 million.

The agency will soon release the annual Winter Maintenance Report, which breaks down fiscal year costs, winter severity, materials used, snow totals and more information. Statistics are also separated by districts, showing the variety of impact across the state.

The statewide snowfall average was 90.2 inches and the Winter Severity Index was 164. Both figures are higher than the previous season, and it was the highest severity index number the state has seen in more than a decade.

“This winter put us to the test and our snow fighters rose to every event,” said State Maintenance Engineer Jed Falgren.

Combined, agency snowplow drivers worked more 850,000 regular hours and overtime this season, more than 100,000 hours more than the previous winter season.

MnDOT also used more liquid materials on highways during this past winter than ever before, totaling more than 14 million gallons, nearly twice the amount used during the previous season.

“Our commitment to liquids is paying off. We’re seeing impressive results every time we put more liquids into the equation which helps us clear roads faster by using less materials overall,“ Falgren said.

The investment into liquids will continue to expand statewide. Watch for the agency to build up its system with more brine-making facilities, liquid storage tanks and ways to deliver more liquids to the fleet.

As this past season wraps up, MnDOT’s maintenance team is already looking ahead to the next round of winter weather. Salt sheds are filling up, the agency is updating its equipment statewide and SPOT or snowplow training operator training starts in September.


MnDOT employee helps motorcyclist after medical incident

By Joseph Palmersheim

Traffic camera shot of several figures clustered around a motorcycle at the side of the road

Mike Sherin, a transportation generalist based in the Mendota Resident Office, was one of several people who helped a motorcyclist during a medical incident July 11 on Hwy 52 and 190th Street in Hampton. MnDOT traffic camera photo

Mike Sherin, a transportation generalist based in the Mendota Resident Office, was one of several people who helped a motorcyclist during a medical incident July 11 on Hwy 52 and 190th Street in Hampton.

Sherin, who was working as part of the Hwy 52 Hampton project in the northbound lane, was flagged down by two PCiRoads surveyors working in the southbound lane. The surveyors had seen a motorcyclist turn off the main highway, and tip over while coming to a stop. They were able to get the motorcyclist back up, but the rider’s speech was slurred, and his color didn’t look right. The cyclist was about to pull away when he tipped over a second time.

“That's when I came up from the other side of the road, and by that time, a Mathias oil tank truck driver who was on 190th had jumped out [and come over],” Sherin said. “That driver took one look at the downed rider, and immediately did CPR. He really was Jonny-on-the-spot. I called my supervisor, Corey Schuh, and told him to roll everything but the kitchen sink.”

While the two surveyors worked on getting the rider out from under the motorcycle, Sherin saw an ambulance about 400 feet down the road. He started waving his helmet and flagged them down.
“They asked if there was a problem, and I said that we had a man down,” Sherin said. “They pulled in and four people got out and went right to work. It couldn’t have been a minute after we’d called for help. This guy was lucky.”

The wait for a helicopter was 45 minutes. Fortunately, a Hastings paramedic crew was able to respond sooner. They gave the rider IV fluids and took him to the hospital, which was 7 minutes away.

“That gentleman is so lucky that those guys were there, Sherin said. “I talked to the [surveyors and oil truck driver] and said, ‘If this guy makes it, it's because of you. We were lucky.’ And then we turned around and went back to work.”

Sherin is waiting to hear what happened to the rider. He’s grateful that help was able to arrive so quickly with the roads being partially closed due to the construction work.

“We had one stretch or road closed, and the other was two lanes north to south, he said. “That ambulance just popped out of nowhere. Getting someone in there was difficult, but it worked. That guy on the motorcycle couldn't have been any luckier. Those survey guys and the oil truck driver are saints.”



District 8 mourns passing of Kyle Goosmann

By Sandra Schlagel, District 8

Photo: Kyle Goosman

Kyle Goosmann. Submitted photo

District 8 employee Kyle Goosmann passed away on June 9 at the age of 54. He had worked for MnDOT since 2010, starting as a temp before joining us full-time and working his way to TGS in Willmar Maintenance.

He was a well-respected employee for MnDOT and a valued member of the District 8 team. He was a friend to many and will be missed by all.

Outside his work with the agency, Kyle enjoyed restoring old school BMX bikes, biking, camping, hunting, hockey, attending auctions, being at the lake and spending time with his family. He is survived by his wife, Crystal, his daughters, Paige and Mariah, and son Levi, as well as his six grandchildren and other relatives.


District 4 remembers colleague and friend Casey Vogt

By Emma Olson, District 4

Photo: Casey Vogt

Casey Vogt. Submitted photo

Casey Vogt, District 4 Surveys Office Manager, passed away unexpectedly on May 30. Casey had worked for District 4 since 2015, starting out as crew chief in Detroit Lakes. In 2018, he moved to the position of office manager for the district survey department. Casey was dedicated to his family and enjoyed hunting, camping, and being outdoors with his wife Jessie and their three children, Dylan, Bella and Owen.

At work, Casey’s advice and survey knowledge was sought out by many at MnDOT. He was a true leader, who always had a smile, a positive attitude, and searched for a solution to an issue rather than dwelling on the negatives. Casey is dearly missed by his colleagues, friends and family.

The Casey Vogt Memorial Golf Scramble (photo below) was held on Monday, June 26. It was a great day to celebrate the life of our friend Casey, and MnDOT was well represented by District 4 and District 2 staff, including: Adam Alexander, Bruce Bryngelson, Walker Charboneau, Gabe Dretsch, Jeremy Erickson, Jeremy Flatau, Justin Flatau, Dan Harris, Justin Knopf, Wayne Koons, Brian Levin, Derek Olds, Tom Pace, Dustin Parsons, Jeremy Peterson, Dan Sunram, Drew Mistic, Andrew Scofield and Todd Strassburg.

Photo of people lined up on a golf course

Left to right: Walker Charboneau, Dan Sunram, Jeremy Peterson, Justin Knopf, Gabe Dretsch, Dan Harris, Jeremy Erickson and Brian Levin at the Casey Vogt Memorial Golf Scramble on June 26. Submitted photo



Training and Conference Center in Shoreview now offers Field Lab resource

A group ohoto of three MnDOT workers

Four employees led the planning and construction of MnDOT's Training and Conference Center in Shoreview, including, from left, Ben Sargent, Workforce Development; Khamsai Yang, Office of Project Management and Technical Support; and Dewayne Jones, Metro District, all shown here, and Tom Dailey, Traffic Engineering (not pictured). Photo by James Pontius

The MnDOT Training and Conference Center in Shoreview has a new feature that opened this spring: an outdoor field lab that provides new opportunities for hands-on training.

The Field Lab currently includes six guardrail systems, with more features to come, including multiple breakaway safety sign systems, which will be installed this autumn. The Field Lab’s inaugural workshop, focusing on guardrail identification and inspection, was held June 7-8. Seven MnDOT offices coordinated on the project, and four employees led the planning and construction, including Ben Sargent, Workforce Development; Khamsai Yang, Office of Project Management and Technical Support; and Dewayne Jones, Metro District; and Tom Dailey, Traffic Engineering.

MnDOT employees may reserve the Field Lab via email for classes and training related agency development needs.

More images from the June workshop are included in the event recap video on the MnDOT YouTube channel.

Upcoming workshops at the Field Lab include “Highway Barrier Installation, Inspection and Maintenance Training” on Sept. 12-13 and “Highway Barrier Design Training” on Sept. 14, both of which are cosponsored by the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Project Management and Technical Support. (To register, obtain supervisory approval for your training request, and then follow your Office/District training registration process.)


New library materials available

The latest issue of New Library Materials is available. New Library  Materials is a compilation of resources added to the library collection during the previous month. This month, the library’s periodicals routing service is highlighted.

Visit the library website and click “New Library Materials” to sign up. Questions and feedback are welcome at Ask a Librarian.


On the job: Patrick Phenow is 'the ports guy'

By Doug Mack

Photo: Patrick Phenow

Patrick Phenow. Submitted photo

Roads and highways may be the biggest talking point for many MnDOT employees, but Patrick Phenow’s focus is squarely on the waterways.

How long have you been at MnDOT and in what positions?
I started as a general freight planner in the Freight Office in 2013. In 2014, I became the Program Manager for Ports and Waterways (or just “the ports guy,” as I usually say).

What are your day-to-day tasks? Do they change throughout the year?
One of the things I like about this job is that there isn’t too much “day-to-day,” but the closest I get to a regular routine is managing the Port Development Assistance Program, which provides infrastructure grants to the public ports in the state to support the movement of people and (primarily) goods. This doesn’t necessarily change throughout the year, but it does with the biennium, as that starts a new cycle for managing the grants that follow appropriations to that program. The seasonality of the waterway shipping seasons in Minnesota (the Upper Mississippi River System and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway) affects some aspects of my job, as I do some data collecting and promotion of the waterways that follows the opening/closing of those two seasons.

How does your job fit into the broader work of MnDOT?
My job is to make sure the waterways are accounted for in different plans and activities at MnDOT, and that Minnesota/MnDOT’s ports and waterways interests are represented at various multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional groups that do different kinds of work that support or advocate for waterway freight. My work in managing and distributing Port grants helps to support this component of our state’s multimodal freight (and occasionally passenger) system.

What the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
The answers are the same for both questions: the relationships and the esoteric. As with many jobs, establishing and building relationships and establishing that vital network that helps you do your job can be a lot of work but can also be one of the most satisfying aspects. This has also proved essential for me in a way that I think is a little unique. As the sole waterway person at MnDOT, I often have to be the resident expert in ways that can be unexpected. Having a broad and deep network within this world is necessary for me to answer those requests and questions that allows me to actually be (or at least appear to be) the resident expert. Which leads me to the second answer, which is the esoteric. I came into this job as a planner who knew very little about waterway freight, and I am constantly learning new things about this world. It makes my job so much more interesting, but there is still so much for me to learn.

How has your job changed since your first started?
In my time here, it has felt like waterway freight has slowly been given more and more recognition as an important component of the multimodal freight network, and often as the most environmentally friendly mode at that. One of the ways we see this is ever-increasing funding for waterway infrastructure at both the federal and state level.

Is there anything about your job that might surprise other people (either inside or outside MnDOT)?
Some people are surprised to hear that my job even exists at MnDOT (which in itself is not particularly surprising, as MnDOT has little to do with the waterways and I do it all, more or less).  

What are your interests or hobbies outside your work with MnDOT?
I am required to find my four- and six-year-old children interesting, and luckily they are. We have two young Irish Doodles, because that seemed like a good pandemic acquisition. We also keep acquiring new activities to do with them, like skijoring and kicksledding. And my wife will confirm that I watch and play way too much soccer.

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:



Name That Place Puzzler #5

By Doug Mack

Photo of a dirt road

Can you name the place pictured below? The photo is from MnDOT staff and the satellite image is from the 511 website and app. We’re looking for the name of the road that runs roughly north-south in the red box shown in the satellite photo. There are no traffic cameras on this specific road, but there is something special about it.  

If you think you know the answer, email Newsline editor Doug Mack. The first three people to submit the correct answer will receive the fame and glory of having their names listed in the next issue of Newsline.

Results from the last Puzzler: The roundabout at the intersection of Hwy 7 and Hwy 25 in Mayer. About 30 people submitted answers and nearly all of them were correct. The first three to get it right were Michael Kruse (Metro), Kyle Uhler (Metro) and Jeremy Erickson (District 4). Congrats to them and thanks to everyone who played!

Aerial map photo


Help support the Combined Charities Campaign

By Susan Walto, Office of Financial Management and board member of Combined Charities

Photo: Susan Walto

Susan Walto. Submitted photo

Each year in October, the State of Minnesota conducts the Combined Charities Campaign to give State of Minnesota employees an easy and confident way to make charitable donations and to benefit federations that serve the people of Minnesota.

Since 1991, state employees have raised more than $25 million for Minnesota charities through voluntary payroll deductions. This funding has helped support many different organizations that provide health, education, environmental, arts and social service programs throughout the state.

I joined the Board of Combined Charities in 2022 as my way of giving back, and now we’re putting out a call for more volunteers to assist with the campaign.

To help communicate the campaign and, perhaps, organize some fun activities, we recruit coordinators from the various agencies, boards, and universities. At MnDOT we’ve traditionally had coordinators from each district and office. However, following the pandemic and turnover, the agency no longer has coordinators in any of the offices and Districts 1, 2 and 7.

If you are interested in coordinating the campaign in your office or district, first get approval from your supervisor, send an email to Doug Heeschen.


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