Newsline
May 11, 2022
Newsline Home Newsline Archives Print Newsline Submit News Feedback About Newsline iHub Home mndot.gov Web site

Table of Contents

NEWSLINE HOME

Print Newsline
SELECT ALL or Click checkboxes below to select articles you wish to print.
Use your browser's Reset Button to deselect all.
Headlines TABLE of CONTENTS

Hwy 10 construction in Anoka paves way for safer, improved travel

By Kent Barnard, Metro District Public Affairs

Photo: Construction on Hwy 10 in Anoka.

The Hwy 10 bridge crossing the Rum River in Anoka is slated for reconstruction in 2022 and 2023. Photo by Kent Barnard

MnDOT’s Metro District and the city of Anoka are coordinating work on 2.5 miles of Hwy 10 between Thurston Avenue and Ferry Street/Hwy 47 in Anoka. The construction work is the culmination of several years of planning, including numerous studies and outreach and engagement with community stakeholders to develop a vision for this corridor.

The two-year construction project began in earnest in late March. MnDOT and the city are repairing aging roads and bridges and building new interchanges on the highway between Thurston Avenue and 7th Avenue in Anoka.

On the east end of the corridor, construction crews will reconstruct and raise the Hwy 10 Rum River Bridge and transform the Hwy 47/Ferry Street interchange from a diamond interchange to a single-point urban interchange. A few other project highlights include:

  • Combining the 4th Avenue bridge over Hwy 10 with the old BNSF Railroad bridge that carries the Rum River Regional Trail. When completed, the Rum River Regional Trail will cross the highway on the new 4th Avenue bridge.
  • Constructing a new interchange that elevates Hwy 10 to travel over Thurston Avenue.
  • Constructing a new underpass to carry Fairoak Avenue beneath the highway with no access to Hwy 10 from Fairoak Avenue.
  • Constructing roundabouts on the north and south sides of Hwy 10 at the Greenhaven Road interchange.

When construction is completed in spring 2024, travelers will find improved traffic flow, decreased congestion and increased safety along and across Hwy 10. The project also will extend the life of the highway while improving freight access and providing opportunities for increased economic development for Anoka and surround cities. New frontage roads and trails will provide better connections along the highway for better bicycle and pedestrian access.

For more information about the Hwy 10 Anoka Project, including upcoming traffic impacts, visit the Hwy 10 Anoka webpage.
Business TABLE of CONTENTS

Schoenecker named assistant division director for State Aid and Statewide Radio Communications

Photo: Ted Schoenecker

Ted Schoenecker returned to MnDOT May 9 as the new assistant division director for State Aid and Statewide Radio Communications. Submitted photo

Ted Schoenecker returned to MnDOT May 9 as the new assistant division director for State Aid and Statewide Radio Communications. He was most recently the Ramsey County Public Works director, but previously worked at MnDOT as the deputy state aid engineer from March 2014 to January 2018.

Schoenecker's other experience includes positions with the Washington County Transportation Department, city of Bloomington Public Works, and in the private sector as an engineer at H.R. Green Company and URS Corporation.

"Ted brings vast experience with local agency perspective to MnDOT leadership, along with a good sense of humor,” said Kristine Elwood, assistant commissioner for State Aid and Statewide Radio Communications Division. “He has a lot of friends at MnDOT who are happy he is coming back.”

He can be reached at 651-366-3804 or Ted.Schoenecker@state.mn.us.

Business TABLE of CONTENTS

New online resources aim to improve equity, engagement

By Doug Mack

Graphic: Includes information on factors like the environmental justice score for Capital Highway Investment Plan pavement and bridge projects.

The reports include information on factors like the environmental justice score for Capital Highway Investment Plan pavement and bridge projects (District 2 shown here).

Two new efforts, undertaken by different offices within MnDOT, help to continue the agency’s commitment to equity in the public engagement planning processes, more specifically on environmental justice and civil rights.

The Office of Transportation System Management recently completed this year’s district environmental justice reports for each MnDOT district’s 10-year Capital Highway Investment Plan projects. The goal of these reports is to give project managers, planners and public engagement staff a better understanding of populations with distinct transportation needs within a quarter mile of CHIP projects, which in turn helps MnDOT staff make informed decisions that best serve these communities.

The environmental justice district reports can be found on the Public Engagement iHUB site on the home page as well as under the “Plan” and “Reference” tabs.

The Office of Civil Rights and Office of Communications and Public Engagement have a new a public participation survey to help staff consistently collect demographic information from public engagement participants.

This effort will help ensure MnDOT meet its obligations related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Environmental Justice principles engagement participants by identifying the communities attending in-person events.  

MnDOT staff who are delivering in-person public engagement events should use the Public Participation Demographic Survey (PDF) to collect demographic information from attendees. The form is a half-sheet with a privacy notice on the front and a demographic survey on the back. Staff should also provide the form to consultants and contractors who are conducting in-person events on MnDOT’s behalf for their use.

The survey—along with critical guidance on how to use it—is available on the front page of the Public Engagement iHUB site, under the heading “What’s New,” or in the “Do” tab under “Tracking public engagement activities and data.”

Business TABLE of CONTENTS

Global Accessibility Awareness Day events highlight best practices for digital inclusion

Graphic: Global Accessibility Awareness Day is Many 19th.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day events are held around the world. To learn more about the events, look at accessibility resources or read about the importance of this work, visit the GAAD Foundation website.

By Doug Mack

Digital accessibility is often more hidden than accessibility in the physical world. Ramps and elevators and talking crosswalk signals often stand out, their purpose self-evident. While their internet counterparts are sometimes less apparent, they’re just as important in helping people navigate the flow of everyday life.

The third Thursday in May—this year, May 19—is the annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which aims to raise awareness of the need for better digital access and inclusion. According to the Global Accessibility Awareness Day Foundation, a few common issues include:

  • People who are blind need alternative text descriptions for meaningful images and use the keyboard and not a mouse to interact with interactive elements.
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing will need captioning for video presentations and visual indicators in place of audio cues.
  • People with motor impairments may need alternative keyboards, eye control or some other adaptive hardware to help them type and navigate on their devices.
  • An uncluttered screen, consistent navigation and the use of plain language would be useful for people with different learning disabilities/impairments.

The Minnesota IT Services Office of Accessibility is marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day by hosting a series of short virtual presentations for State of Minnesota employees who buy technology, create documents, web content/applications or are involved with projects that have a digital component. The presentations will showcase the value of accessibility and the ways that accessibility improvements drive more inclusion and equity. 

“I’m looking forward to attending these sessions,” said Emily Lu, senior web coordinator in the Office of Communications and Public Engagement. “I love the opportunity to bring the accessibility community together, to learn and share ideas about building more accessible experiences for everyone.”

There will be six sessions, all on May 19:

  • Session 1, “Introduction to accessibility standards,” will cover subjects such as an overview of accessibility guidelines and how they change over time, and how these guidelines can help people with disabilities access more digital information. This session will run from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Add Session 1 to your calendar.
  • Session 2, “End user impact of accessibility standards,” will cover how people with disabilities navigate technology and how digital accessibility impacts their professional and personal lives. This session will run from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Add Session 2 to your calendar.
  • Session 3, “Buying accessible technology,” will cover accessibility technology procurement, including how to incorporate accessibility from the beginning.  This session will run from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Add Session 3 to your calendar.
  • Session 4, “Projects that shift left for accessibility,” will feature a case study in project accessibility, including why the project team included accessibility in specific parts of their project plan and timelines. This session will run from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Add Session 4 to your calendar.
  • Session 5, “Document and content accessibility,” will cover how Web Content Accessibility Guidelines benefit all document users; it is particularly recommended for graphic designers. This session will run from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Add Session 5 to your calendar.
  • Session 6, “Web developers,” will address the role accessibility plays in developing websites/applications to meet WCAG guidelines, along with potential accessibility challenges and resolutions.  This session will run from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Add Session 6 to your calendar.
Business TABLE of CONTENTS

MnDOT honors fallen workers at Worker Memorial Day observances

By J.P. Gillach

Photo: Gary Vinge, D6 Maintenance.

Gary Vinge, D6 Maintenance Materials, spoke at District 6’s Worker Memorial Day event. Vinge was involved in a crash in January when his plow was hit by a semi on I-90 near Albert Lea. "I heard a crunch. I looked in my left mirror and realized it was a semi trying to pass me," Vinge said. He was able to walk away from the crash unharmed, and the semi driver was also not hurt. Photo by Rich Kemp

On April 28, MnDOT observed Worker Memorial Day. The annual event honors fallen workers who died working on MnDOT construction and maintenance projects.

Since 1960, 35 MnDOT workers and 16 contractors died while working on Minnesota highways. Hundreds of employees in every MnDOT district took time to honor those workers in different ways. Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed April 28 as Worker Memorial Day and the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis was lit orange.

Some of the activities and events around the state included:

  • Central Office issued a news release and created social media posts about Worker Memorial Day.
  • District  1 distributed Worker Memorial Day hat/lapel pins and lit changeable message boards at various locations to recognize WMD and fallen workers.
  • District  2 observed a moment of silence and distributed an email and video to all district employees.
  • District 3 conducted a district-wide memorial on Teams, distributed WMD pins and put up displays of remembrance in locations throughout the district.
  • District 4 observed a moment of silence and sent an email and video to all district employees.
  • District 6 held an in-person remembrance, with online streaming, at the Rochester Truck Station, sent an email message to all district employees and created social media posts.
  • District 7 held a ceremony in honor of fallen workers at the district headquarters ion Mankato.
  • District 8 held a districtwide memorial on Teams, distributed WMD pins and created social media posts.
Variety TABLE of CONTENTS

On the Job: Dawn Oie coordinates snow fences to keep roads clear

By Rich Kemp

Photo: Dawn Oie, D8.

Dawn Oie coordinates snow fences in District 8. Photo by Rich Kemp

Dawn Oie has been at MnDOT for more than 30 years in a variety of jobs in District 8. She has seen a lot of changes in her time at the agency and decided to make a change of her own in 2021 by joining the Maintenance Office as a transportation program specialist. Her job includes coordinating snow fences, which trap snow and prevent it from blowing across roads or other targeted areas. Snow fences come in three varieties: structural, living (trees/shrubs) and vegetative (corn rows or hay bales). (The MnDOT website has more information about the snow fence program.)

What has been your career path?
I started out as a student worker while going to college. I helped with data entry of training records and mechanic shop repairs. After college, I got a permanent job as a clerk typist and later became District 8’s Adopt A Highway coordinator.

The district needed some help with human resources, so I started helping them out and eventually moved to HR fulltime. Our supervisor took a mobility as District 8’s administrative manager so I filled in as the HR supervisor during her absence. After two years, our HR supervisor moved into the admin manager position permanently and I was offered the HR supervisor position.

I later took a mobility as a transportation program specialist for six months and now have been in the role permanently for nine months.

What do you do in your job?
I do a variety of things in my current job. I track materials and run reports. I coordinate the bidding and invoicing process for snow loading and street sweeping.

I am also the snow fence coordinator for all living and non-living snow fences in District 8. I guide the payment process for the rental agreements. I prepare Negotiated Maintenance and Construction Contract quote packages related to snow fence projects, collect and award bids, and serve as the project manager on the snow fence projects.

What’s an average day like for you?
Every day is different. It varies depending on the season.

What’s your favorite part about what you do?
There are lots of things that I like about this job. It is rewarding to be able to rejuvenate the FEMA snow fences that have been in place for 20 years and to install new snow fences to help ensure the safety of the traveling public.

What are the biggest challenges?
Contacting the landowners from whom we bought easement rights for our FEMA snow fence sites back in 2000 or 2001.

What kind of changes have you seen during your time at MnDOT?
Change has always been a constant. However, it seems to happen more frequently over the last five to eight years as more and more things become electronic. Drug and alcohol testing started in the late 1990s. When I started, we had many desks sitting in a large open room, but now we have cubicles. Office space has really changed over time.

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:

Variety TABLE of CONTENTS

AASHTO’s Innovation Initiative Awards honor agency’s work with unsheltered populations

By Micaela Resh, Office of Research & Innovation

Photo: Encampment in St. Paul.

A small encampment stands along MnDOT property in St. Paul. Photo by MnDOT maintenance staff

For many years, MnDOT staff have interacted with unsheltered populations, typically when individuals are encamped on or near rights of way.

MnDOT has been working to approach these encounters with awareness, resilience and safety for both the traveling public and those Minnesotans seeking shelter. Recently, the agency earned national recognition for these efforts through its selection as a 2022 Innovation Initiative by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
MnDOT’s innovations in this area include:

  • Mobile mapping & camp data entry: This app-based solution allows MnDOT staff to enter encampment location information and activity details while in the field and analyze camp size and cleanup costs over time.
  • Encampment procedures guide: This document details when and how encampment removal and clean-up should occur and how staff should operate in and around encampments.
  • Training for field staff: This seven-module video series for field staff helps them navigate the complexities of encountering unsheltered individuals.

AASHTO’s Innovation Initiative seeks out proven advancements in transportation technology to accelerate their adoption nationwide.

Each year, the program selects highly valuable technologies, processes, software or other innovations that have been successfully adopted by at least one agency and offer significant benefit to other agencies.

Ready-to-use technologies from other DOTs recognized this year include Steel Press-Brake-Formed Tub Girder, On-Demand Microtransit, and Beam End Repair Using Ultra-High Performance Concrete.

For the complete list of focus technologies, visit AASHTO.


Variety TABLE of CONTENTS

Employee Resource Groups offer support, connection

By Doug Mack

Photo: SWAT Professional Development Day.

SWAT members participate in a discussion at the Professional Development Day event in March 2019. Most ERG events and activities over the last two years have been conducted virtually. Photo by Rich Kemp

With more than 5,000 employees, MnDOT is a large, sprawling team with people of many backgrounds, identities and interests. This diversity and breadth of lived experiences help foster a strong, vibrant workplace built on an array of perspectives and skill sets that go beyond the bullet points listed in a job description. 

Employee Resource Groups are a key component in MnDOT’s efforts to recognize, affirm and support diversity, equity and inclusion within the agency, and support employees from traditionally underrepresented communities. Employees from across the agency—in all districts and all types of jobs—currently belong to these groups. The active ERGs include:

Employees who identify as allies—people who are not part of the specified background or identity but wish to show their support—are also welcome to join any of the ERGs.

Group members can spend up to six hours per month on ERG-related activities, including a monthly meeting (during the workday) along with professional development, community outreach and other activities. Each ERG works with the Office of Equity & Diversity to develop a specific work plan.

Employees who aren’t in an ERG but are interested in learning more should visit the Employee Resource Groups page on iHUB, which has links to specific information about each group, contacts, upcoming events and frequently asked questions. While some employees may be interested in multiple groups, the Office of Equity & Diversity encourages people to join no more than two, to ensure focused, intentional interaction.

“It’s never too late—or too early—for someone to join an ERG,” said Frida Alvarez, diversity and inclusion organizational development specialist in the Office of Equity & Diversity. “Employee Resource Groups are a place to go to learn (and critique) the work culture, meet new colleagues and be a part of an innovative community committed to diversity, equity and inclusion at MnDOT.”

 
Variety TABLE of CONTENTS

Students showcase pedal power on International Bike to School Day

By Joseph Palmersheim

Photo: Students bike to school in Faribault.

These students from Roosevelt Elementary School in Faribault were among the thousands of people taking in International Bike to School Day on May 4. This annual event, sponsored by Minnesota Safe Routes to School, encourages students and parents to practice safe biking and walking activities. Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed May 4 as “Walk and Bike to School Day” in Minnesota. Walk and Bike to School Days are special one-day events to help make biking and walking more visible, fun and rewarding for children. These events can encourage parents and students to make biking and walking to school a habit. Learn more at MnDOT’s Safe Routes to School website. Submitted photo

 

 
 
SELECT ALL or Click checkboxes above to select articles you wish to print.
Use your browser's Reset Button to deselect all.

  TABLE of CONTENTS

NEWSLINE HOME