Blog Archives

Minnesota LTAP offers demos, hands-on training at annual event

ltapdemoday2018-1422-300ppi-6016x4016About 100 individuals from local transportation agencies gathered in Bemidji last week for the Minnesota Roadway Maintenance Training and Demo Day.

Offered annually by the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), which is housed within CTS, the event focuses on education and technology exchange through classroom sessions and outdoor demonstrations. Topics covered included cargo securement, recent changes in commercial driver’s license rules, gravel road maintenance and design, and culvert management and ditch maintenance.

Posted in Events, Maintenance, Workforce development

Otter Plow Cushion absorbs shock of rough roads

Snowplow truck with Otter Plow Cushion Winter roads, especially late in the season, can be especially rough, causing more stress on snowplow lift chains and plow lift parts as the heavy plow assembly bounces more. Broken plow lift chains are a common result and can take maintenance vehicles and personnel out of service for hours.

Industrious maintenance personnel with the Otter Tail County Highway Department created the Otter Plow Cushion with spare parts during downtime on a cold winter day. The device absorbs the shock of rough roads on the plow assembly and lift chains, improving ride quality and reducing the failure of the plow lift chains and parts.

The Otter Tail County Highway Department received a grant through the Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program to produce more Otter Plow Cushions.

Posted in Maintenance

U of M researchers are helping build better bridge repairs

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.

Posted in Bridges and structures, Infrastructure, Maintenance, Transportation research

Submit a proposal to the Local OPERA Program

Lake County OPERA projectDo you work for a local transportation agency in Minnesota? Do you or your maintenance staff need funding to develop a new idea, tool, material, or process related to operations, construction, or maintenance?

The Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program is here to help! Funding for OPERA projects is now available, and it’s easy to submit a proposal. The maximum funding per project is $20,000, and submissions are due Friday, May 12, 2017.

Posted in Construction, Maintenance

Transportation spending: How does Minnesota compare with other states?

Photo of a winter roadwayTransportation funding continues to be a contentious issue in Minnesota: Are we spending enough, too little, too much? One way to help answer that question is to compare spending with other states.

“A simple comparison, however, may not accurately reflect the real level of transportation funding across the states,” says Jerry Zhao, an associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “States face different levels of demand and costs due to different geographic, demographic, or labor market conditions.”

To better understand the factors that influence the transportation funding level, Zhao and Professor Wen Wang at Rutgers University developed a cost-adjusted approach to systematically compare highway expenses among states. They found that while Minnesota spends more than average on highways, its spending level actually ranks low in cost-adjusted measures.

Posted in Infrastructure, Maintenance, Transportation funding

Submit an entry to Minnesota LTAP’s Build a Better Mousetrap contest

Have you or one of your co-workers recently built an innovative gadget or developed an improved way to do a job? Show off your creativity and help other transportation agencies solve problems by submitting an entry to the Build a Better Mousetrap Competition!

The Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), housed at CTS, is participating in the 2017 contest, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration’s Local Technical Assistance Program and Tribal Technical Assistance Program.

Posted in Construction, Maintenance, Safety

U of M researchers to tackle big transportation questions with new MnDOT, LRRB funding

U of M researchers have received funding from MnDOT’s Transportation Research Innovation Group and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) for 15 new projects beginning this summer.

Researchers will tackle a number of big transportation questions: How should our transportation agencies prepare for connected vehicle technology? Are unseen factors affecting safety at rural intersections? Can Twin Cities roadsides be used to grow habitat for endangered bumble bees?

Posted in Bridges and structures, Infrastructure, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Maintenance, Pavements, Pedestrian, Safety, Technology, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Urban transportation
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