Science Museum seeking photos about the future of the Twin Cities

If you’re interested in a creative challenge, the Science Museum of Minnesota is requesting photos for an upcoming exhibit about the future of the Twin Cities. Full details and submission instructions are on the Science Museum’s website; the deadline is

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Posted in Urban transportation

Salt-tolerant sod and seed mixes bring greener roadsides to Minnesota

a href=””>turfgrass1For Minnesota’s roadside grasses, life isn’t easy. To survive, grass must be able to withstand extreme stresses including drought, heat, disease, soil compaction, poor quality soils, and high levels of road salt. Ideally, it could survive all that while still looking lush and green.

“Many roadsides, especially in metropolitan areas, need to look good,” says Eric Watkins, associate professor in the Department of Horticultural Science. “In addition to aesthetics, quality roadside vegetation is needed to prevent erosion and maintain water quality from roadside runoff.”

In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) noticed a number of its new sod and seed plantings were failing and asked U of M experts to take a look at its specification.

Posted in Environment, Maintenance, Transportation research

Reform the fuel tax to improve our future

gaspumpFinding the funding needed to meet documented highway, bridge, and transit needs continues to be hotly debated in Washington, DC, and in state capitals around the country. The level of investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure has declined. Federal figures compiled by The Associated Press show the total amount of money available to all states from the Federal Highway Trust Fund has declined by 3.5 percent during the five-year period ending in 2013. In Minnesota, the drop is even more severe: 33 percent.

At the same time, demand on the system and construction costs continue to increase. Population growth, increased freight shipments, and heavier vehicles have all contributed to a situation in which the transportation system is carrying much more of a load than it was ever designed to carry. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, highway construction costs have increased more than 70 percent since 2004.

In this guest post, Margaret Donahoe from the Minnesota Transportation Alliance shares her thoughts on how we might deal with trends that are producing less revenue for transportation while maintaining the user fee principal.

Posted in Transportation funding

Travel awards help U of M students attend TRB

CTS and the Roadway Safety Institute provided 18 U of M graduate students with travel awards to attend the Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual conference in Washington, DC, in January. The travel awards allow students interested in transportation to learn about the latest transportation research, network with professionals, and, in some cases, present their work.

Read what this year’s participants had to say about their experience.

Posted in Education, Events

Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Counting Initiative highlighted in FHWA case study

Work on bike and pedestrian counting by University of Minnesota researchers and MnDOT has been highlighted as part of the FHWA’s Livable Communities Case Study Series.

The case study features the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Counting Initiative, led by the U of M’s Greg Lindsey and MnDOT’s Lisa Austin and Jasna Hadzic. Under the initiative, the team has developed general guidance and consistent methods for counting bikes and pedestrians. Team members have also worked with other state and local agencies to implement counting strategies across Minnesota.

Posted in Bicycling, Pedestrian, Planning, Safety, Traffic data, Transportation research

Future drivers learn safety lessons at Creativity Festival

studentsAs part of its outreach and workforce-education efforts, the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI) presented a roadway safety lesson to 90 students in grades 3–4 during the Creativity Festival on January 14.

The Creativity Festival, a program of Success Beyond the Classroom, introduces students to the value of creative thinking across a wide array of fields ranging from engineering to art.

Posted in Education, Safety

Better job accessibility drives MnPASS subscriptions

interstateIn recent years, many metropolitan-area highway systems have created high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Typically, the use of these lanes is restricted during peak periods to carpools and those paying a toll for access, which commonly requires enrollment in an electronic tolling program and the use of an electronic transponder.

To better understand why drivers enroll in Minnesota’s MnPASS electronic tolling system, University of Minnesota researchers investigated the factors that drive subscriptions. Their findings indicate that households are more likely to have MnPASS subscriptions in areas where the MnPASS system provides a greater increase in accessibility to jobs.

Posted in Technology, Transportation research, Travel Behavior, Uncategorized, Urban transportation
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