May 2020 Vol. 8, No. 4

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COVID-19 resources for cleaning, hygiene

virus sphere

Photo: Shutterstock

Proper cleaning of your truck or shop is more important than ever. New COVID-19 resources are available with recommended practices for transportation agencies and contractors.

The COVID-19 virus has been shown to persist on surfaces for hours or days, so it is essential to clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment. A “Tailgate Talks” fact sheet describes what to do at the end of a shift to make sure department vehicles are clean and disinfected. Another Tailgate Talks fact sheet discusses good hygiene in the workplace.

Other resources compiled by LTAP centers and the CDC cover topics such as worker responsibilities and social distancing—for example, avoiding lunch and break rooms.

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Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in work zones

animated worker

A new video from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) provides guidance for stopping the spread of infectious diseases in work zones. It is based on recommendations from the CDC, US OSHA, and industry sources.

Tips include screening employees as they enter the job site, taking turns viewing documents, removing coffee pots and microwaves, and restricting access to confined spaces. Employees should change clothes before and after work and keep the two sets separated.

For sanitation, employers are advised to provide hand-washing stations when possible, separated from porta-potties and break areas. All shared surfaces—such as steering wheels, knobs, and levers—must be properly sanitized after each use.

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OPERA project: plow truck adapted to haul side-dumping trailer

side dump truck

Nicollet County Public Works staff adapted a Mack Super Truck from its usual winter snowplow configuration so that it can also haul a much larger side-dumping trailer in summer. This allows staff to increase legal hauling capacity significantly and, as a result, greatly improve operating efficiency.

Staff had discovered that a side-dumping trailer could haul more than twice as much as a conventional dump box. But, to make it work, they needed a side-dumping trailer compatible with the hydraulic pump used for snowplow equipment on the Super Truck. Maintenance staff spent many hours of research before settling on the purchase of a Trail King side-dumping trailer.

A conventional tandem dump body can haul 9.5 tons, but the side-dumping trailer routinely carries 20 tons, and up to nearly 23.5 tons when using special overweight permits available from the state.

The Super Truck has become one of the county’s most-used pieces of equipment. Uses include placing gravel on gravel roads, delivering riprap to jobsites, and hauling tree-trimming debris.

The project was funded by the Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program, a program of the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB).

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Gravel road maintenance webinar series begins May 27

big tires

Minnesota LTAP is launching a webinar series based on our most popular and longest running in-person workshop—gravel road maintenance. One-hour sessions will address specific topics and answer your most pressing issues.

Although we have postponed all in-person trainings because of COVID-19, we remain committed to providing learning opportunities that add value to employee development.

The first webinar—Session 1: Gravel Roads: Design and Drainage—will take place on May 27 at 10:00 am CDT. It will address profile, cross slope, drainage, blades (cutting edges), and more, and will be posted for later viewing. The session is worth 0.25 Roads Scholar credit.

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Turfgrass testing finds hardier species for cold climates

roadside turfgrass

Photo: Kevin Frank, Michigan State University

Roadway salt and other stressors can cause turfgrass to fail, requiring expensive reseeding or sodding efforts. University of Minnesota researchers are aiming to solve this problem by identifying best management practices for turfgrass establishment and recommending new species and cultivars. They recently directed a coordinated testing effort across five states.

The testing—in Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Wisconsin—allowed for the simultaneous evaluation of stressors common to roadsides in cold climates. The pooled-fund project was led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, with additional funding from the Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Wisconsin DOTs.

Although turfgrass establishment varied by state, general findings show that fine fescues perform well at urban sites and are more tolerant of salt than other species. Results also suggest that sites with high amounts of salt usage would benefit from mixtures incorporating alkaligrass.

In addition, the study highlighted the importance of multi-site testing and difficulties establishing turfgrass: only 6 of the 10 sites resulted in first-year data because of weather and human interference.

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Managing stormwater runoff: ditch checks, bioswales, sediment control logs


Photo: Marsha Patelke

Managing stormwater runoff from roadways is a top regulatory and environmental concern for highway departments. In recent months, projects by U of M researchers have led to new guidance for ditch checks, bioslopes and bioswales, and sediment control logs.

In one project, researchers documented the performance of an iron-enhanced ditch check filter to remove phosphates from stormwater. They found that the filter was effective, though its performance decreased over time. The project was funded by MnDOT and the LRRB.

In a MnDOT-funded study, researchers studied the use of previously discarded natural materials close to construction sites for stormwater management. They found that MnDOT could use onsite soil to build bioslopes and bioswales to retain the first inch of roadway runoff and associated pollutants—with tremendous cost-saving potential.

Another MnDOT-funded project developed two new decision tools—one for ditch checks and one for perimeter control—to guide the selection of sediment control logs. Researchers also adapted the results of the investigations into a set of training materials for erosion control and stormwater management.

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FHWA webinar series: green innovations for stormwater management

center for local aid support banner

The FHWA’s Center for Local Aid Support offers a free webinar series targeted to local agencies, tribes, and federal land management agencies. The next webinar, on May 7, will cover green innovations for stormwater management. All webinars are available on-demand.

Delivered by subject-matter experts, the Innovation Exchange webinars spread new ideas, spark conversation, and promote innovative leadership for transportation system challenges. Other upcoming topics include asset data management, project bundling, and 3D printing.

The webinars are held from noon to 1:30 p.m. CDT. Non-federal-DOT users (anyone without a email address, including state DOT personnel) must create an account with the FHWA External Portal.

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Rural road departures: webinar, rumble video, storyboard

EDC logo

Proven countermeasures can reduce deaths caused by rural road departures. New resources for agencies include a May 12 webinar, a short video, and an interactive online storyboard.

The free webinar (noon to 2:00 p.m. CDT) is targeted to state, local, and tribal agencies. Speakers will share unique approaches and methods to efficiently deliver safety countermeasures and projects to reduce rural roadway departure crashes. It’s cosponsored by the National Center for Rural Road Safety, the FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program, and the National LTAP Association.

The storyboard, a new technique from EDC, promotes greater use of curve warning signs. The storyboard is an interactive digital slideshow incorporating images, video, and graphics to create a highly visual experience for readers.

The short FHWA video gives a high-level look at center and edge rumbles.

(Adapted from EDC News, Apr. 16, 2020.)

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