Performance of the freight system in Minnesota profoundly affects economic competitiveness. But perspectives vary on what constitutes and contributes to an attractive, competitive freight environment. Differences among various interests—carriers, retailers, consumers, and government—give rise to a certain competitive tension underlying critical decision making and investment involving freight.
To make sense of it all, the Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee (MFAC) in June published Components of an Attractive Minnesota Freight Market (PDF). The white paper, which identifies key aspects of an attractive freight market in Minnesota, is the first in a planned MFAC series about freight transportation issues important to Minnesota’s economy.
To reduce congestion and improve safety, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has deployed active traffic management (ATM) technology on two freeways in the Twin Cities. The ATM system incorporates intelligent lane control signals placed over selected lanes at half-mile increments to warn motorists of incidents or hazards ahead.
Using this existing ATM infrastructure, U of M researchers have developed and field-tested two prototypes for queue warning systems in a new MnDOT-funded project. The warning systems specifically focus on preventing rear-end collisions—the most frequent type of crash on freeways.
This summer, U of M researchers are bringing bridge girders into their lab to help MnDOT evaluate a repair method that could ultimately reduce traffic interruptions caused by infrastructure repairs.
The salting of bridge and roadway surfaces during Minnesota winters can create highly corrosive conditions that result in damage to bridges. Such was the case with the Trunk Highway 169 Nine Mile Creek Bridge near Edina and Minnetonka, where leaking expansion joints caused corrosion to elements responsible for the strength of bridge girders: shear reinforcement, prestressing strands, and the surrounding concrete. MnDOT repaired the damaged girder ends in 2013 by encasing them using a system of steel dowels, additional shear reinforcement, and sprayed concrete. MnDOT was able to make the repairs without traffic interruption.
Now, the bridge is being replaced, and U of M professor Carol Shield and her team of researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of the 2013 repair. The researchers’ goal is to determine if the repair strengthened the corrosion-damaged girders to a level similar to noncorroded girders. If proven effective, MnDOT could use this type of repair to lengthen the useful life of existing bridges and save travelers time and frustration caused by repair-related traffic delays.
Last month, 31 middle schoolers participated in CTS’s third National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI), a two-week program that introduces students to transportation topics through classroom activities, lab sessions, and field trips around the Twin Cities.
Check out highlights and a photo slideshow of this year’s activities.
Pedestrian safety and access to healthful foods were some of the issues tackled by U of M students during the 2016–2017 academic year as part of the U’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP).
In its fifth year, RCP—a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs—partnered with the City of Brooklyn Park to advance an array of the city’s strategic priorities. RCP connects communities in Minnesota with U of M faculty and students through collaborative, course-based projects. Communities are chosen in a competitive process.
The Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course in spring semester 2017 that included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions in China. The course—PA 5880: High-Density Urban and Regional Development in China—was offered by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Led by GTI director Yingling Fan, U of M coordinators took 16 students to Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong for the intensive two-week course in May.
“The course gave students first-hand experiences in two of the most densely populated regions on earth,” Fan says. “These two regions are at the center of Chinese economic development, surpassing other regions in levels of economic growth and productivity.”
As the movement to promote bicycling as a means of transportation has grown, so has the amount of money governments and nonprofit organizations are investing in the nation’s urban bicycling infrastructure. A concern, however, is whether these investments are distributed equitably among neighborhoods.
In a new study, U of M researchers looked at this issue using Minneapolis as a case study and found that though inequities still exist, equity is improving.