April 2021 Vol. 9, No. 3

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Demo Day event is going virtual!

white drone hovering in blue sky

Minnesota LTAP’s annual Demo Day event is going virtual in 2021! Instead of holding our typical in-person event, we’re hosting a series of four virtual trainings and demonstrations on a range of topics in April and May.

The series is designed to provide attendees with information on the latest practices, innovations, and research related to Minnesota’s roadway maintenance operations.The trainings are free, but separate registration is required for each event. We won't be recording the series, so be sure to sign up for the sessions that appeal to you!

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A Minnesota vision for speed limits

white car driving by a speed limit 30 road sign

A task force of transportation officials and user group advocates has created a statewide vision for setting speed limits on local roads in Minnesota. The project began several years ago when leadership teams from city and county engineering associations asked the State Aid Division of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to help facilitate a conversation about speed limits.

The project included a literature search, input from technical advisory and transportation user groups, and development of the vision. The result is the following vision statement:

Speed limits are set with an emphasis on all users with key influences of safety, engineering, and surrounding land use.

The vision is guided by these core values:

  • Speed limits are affected by community context, land use, and road design;
  • governed by voluntary compliance through education and accepted social norms;
  • established through consistent technical evaluation and applied equitably across all communities.

The project did not provide tools for cities to change speed limits or guidance for existing statutes.

The project website has information on the state’s speed limit history, a summary of research and literature, and frequently asked questions about speed limits.

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Guide helps local agencies select bicycle facilities

man riding a bike on a two-lane rural road

A new reference guide will help local road agencies select bicycle facilities that reflect the best in current practices and designs and that suit small agency needs and budgets. Based on information from 46 cities and counties in Minnesota, the guide offers lists and links to 36 resources and answers a detailed list of frequently asked questions.

A supplement to the MnDOT Bicycle Facility Design Manual, the quick reference guide was developed in close cooperation with Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) and MnDOT experts to answer the questions city and county agencies have about facility selection and design.

The research team developed the guidebook as a searchable tool for directing local agency planners and designers to various resources to answer their design ques­tions and assist in decision making.

The quick reference guide includes a detailed list of resources with web links for selection and design information. Resources include state and national bicycle facility design guides and directives on lanes, trails, and maintenance.

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Home-grown innovations from around the country

EDC logo

Are you interested in homegrown innovations being used by your peers in other parts of the country? Check out the National State Transportation Innovation Councils (STIC) Network Showcase, a component of the EDC-6 Virtual Summit. More than 200 innovations submitted by state DOTs, local agencies, and other STIC members are grouped into eight topic area categories for easy navigation.

The showcase prominently features several innovations focused on workforce development and knowledge sharing. Learn about the Illinois DOT's District Resource for Informative and Voluntary Exchange program, which offers weekly training and group discussion sessions to help train new employees and minimize loss of knowledge for retiring employees; University of New Hampshire Technology Transfer Center's "Tuesday Top 10 at 10 with T2" series, which, weekly, featured 10 items for public works agencies to be “in the know” on; and the Idaho DOT heavy equipment operator training program, which helped 20 men and women receive multiple certifications including forklift, maintenance and service, and heavy equipment operator.

This site features a convenient one-time registration that will allow you to continue accessing information throughout 2021.

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Overlays and rejuvenators are topics of NRRA reports

asphalt paver

The National Road Research Alliance (NRRA) has published synthesis reports on overlays and rejuvenators. The reports assemble information on best practices for design, construction, and maintenance.

The reports summarize experiences from various NRRA member states. NRRA is a pooled fund administered by MnDOT.

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Hybrid vehicles may drive savings in urban settings

hybrid pickup truck

In a recent study, University of Minnesota researchers used vehicle data to evaluate the potential real-world benefits of adding hybrid vehicles to municipal fleets. They found that hybrids offer significant fuel economy benefits for urban stop-and-go applications.

The goal of the project was to determine what routes and usages generated high fuel consumption in Minnesota municipal fleet activities, which vehicle technology delivered lower consumption on chosen routes, and the basic cost-effectiveness of technologies in specific uses.

Results of the investigation show that usage patterns significantly affect fuel consumption improvements, and that putting hybrids on urban routes will provide the biggest benefits. Hybrid performance for duties and routes that require the significant use of arterials or highways provided only a modest benefit—about a 5 percent improvement in fuel consumption. However, hybrids used in urban stop-and-go applications offered more significant benefits, with a 20 to 25 percent improvement in fuel consumption.

This project was sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board.

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