Fall 2015 Vol. 23, No. 4

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Winter Maintenance

Road salt: report looks at alternatives to keep our roads safe and waters healthy
Rock salt is the most common deicer used for winter maintenance in Minnesota. It’s affordable and effective, but damages lakes, rivers, and groundwater. With concern growing about the high chloride levels in Minnesota’s waters, the Minnesota Local Road Research Board funded a review of approaches that might lead to lower salt use.

Drift-free roads design tool now online
An online tool is now available to help transportation agencies design drift-free roads. The Minnesota Drift-Free Roads Design Module allows user to create two types of mitigation strategies: a proper road design and a snow fence design.

Clear Roads program publishes new materials for winter maintenance
The Clear Roads pooled-fund research program has published the following new materials: Comparison of Material Distribution Systems, Environmental Factors Causing Fatigue, Developing a Totally Automated Spreading System, and Preventing Corrosion on DOT Equipment.


Low-cost system collects data needed for reducing roadway-departure crashes
Rapid advancements in vehicle technology are opening up possibilities to reduce roadway-departure crashes. These technologies require highly accurate maps of roadways and their boundaries so that they can reliably determine the precise location of the vehicle on the road. To help acquire this road geometry information, U of M researchers developed and evaluated a low-cost mobile data-collection platform. The system could also be used for other purposes, such as tracking roadway assets and assessing pavement quality.

LRRB Spotlight

Trail/road coating for snowmobile crossings
Snowmobiles often damage pavement when they cross trails and roads, requiring repairs to be made earlier than in non-crossing areas. The trails are often used for biking and rollerblading, which require a smooth, undamaged trail for safety reasons. Scott County installed a thermoplastic coating to minimize or eliminate this problem on roads and trail systems.

Aging equipment: life-cycle analysis tool helps decide replacement time
Picking the right time to replace equipment can have a big impact on agency budgets. A project sponsored by the Minnesota LRRB developed an analytical tool to allow agencies to determine the optimal time—from a cost perspective—for equipment replacement. The methodology developed is available in an Excel spreadsheet.

Matrix riprap protects bridge abutments, reduces costs
Riprap cover is often used to protect the side slopes of spill-through abutments from river scour. Obtaining large enough stone in some regions of the state, however, can dramatically increase project construction costs. The results of a new LRRB-funded study show that using smaller pieces of partially grouted riprap can reduce the costs associated with bringing in large pieces of riprap.

Steel culvert pipe maps show service life statewide
This LRRB-sponsored project developed a series of steel pipe service-life maps for the state of Minnesota. The maps demonstrate that aluminized pipe overall provides a greater potential for higher service life than galvanized pipe.


Preventive maintenance—in the lab and on the road
At this year’s Pavement Conference in February, two presenters looked at different sides of preventive pavement maintenance. Mike Anderson, director of research and laboratory services for the Asphalt Institute, discussed his research on how asphalt aging can affect the timing of maintenance. Then Mark Watson, who oversees pavement preventive maintenance for MnDOT’s Metro Division, outlined his pavement maintenance planning process.

Permeable pavements could improve safety, benefit environment
In the quest for sustainable pavement options that will improve road safety and are friendly to the environment, permeable pavements may be an answer, according to findings of a new study. U of M researchers completed a comprehensive review of permeable pavement research and construction in northern climates.

MnROAD Phase Two benefits exceed $10 million/year
A MnDOT report summarizes the outcome of the many different research projects at MnROAD completed during Phase Two.


Minnesota award winners honored at APWA Congress 2015
Congratulations to our very own Jim Grothaus, director of Minnesota LTAP, for receiving the Donald C. Stone Award from the American Public Works Association (APWA). The Minnesota Chapter of APWA received four other awards during the 2015 APWA Congress in Arizona.

Workshops and Training

NEW LTAP course: From Doing the Job to Documenting the Job: a Path to Clearer Communication
This one-day course introduces the office and professional skills needed for public works professionals.

Free chainsaw safety training available at your site
Minnesota OSHA Workplace Safety Consultation offers chainsaw safety training to help private- and public-sector employers meet the requirement that employees using a chainsaw be properly trained.

Free web-based seminars on highway/bridge construction
More than 90 web-based training courses are available through the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council. Courses fall under several categories, such as pavements and materials, geotechnical, construction and maintenance, highway safety, and site and personal safety.

More fun with words!
Your or you’re…there, their, or they’re? Find out which ones are the right pick.

Fall crossword puzzle
When you finish our fall puzzle, the letters in the shaded boxes will spell out someone who wore maroon & gold and purple with great success.

Information Services

The Shelf
Recent publications from various sources