Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Congressional Transportation Status Report

District 1 Overview



MnDOT District 1 remains committed to transportation safety. Recent safety projects include:

  • Construction of safety turn-lanes at selected highway intersections
  • Construction of a Reduced Conflict Intersection
  • Intersection conflict warning systems
  • Installation of high-tension cable median barriers
  • Improved center median barriers on I-35
  • Installation of wet-reflective roadway markings and edge-line and centerline rumble strips to numerous rural highways
  • Concrete grinding (improves friction)
  • Toward Zero Death safety initiatives
  • Rehabilitation of fracture-critical bridges such as the Blatnik, Bong, Hwy 23/Kettle River and Hwy 210/Thomson Bridges
  • Development of a district-wide culvert replacement project to prevent the risk of culvert failures that could create traffic safety problems


District 1 is active in projects to improve mobility in the district. Recent accomplishments include:

  • Pavement improvement projects on Hwy 38 and Hwy 65---the improved sections are exempt from spring load restrictions
  • Implementation of the Great Minnesota State Transit Plan
  • Incorporation of Americans with Disabilities Act provisions into all new district projects to improve accessibility
  • Obtaining funding for the Job Access and Reverse Commute program, which provides bus transportation for residents of Lake, St. Louis and Itasca counties
  • Coordination with the Duluth Port Authority to ensure that routes are available for oversized and overweight loads coming to and leaving the Port of Duluth
  • Ongoing capital improvement projects with the Duluth Transit Authority


The district recently implemented several innovative projects:

  • District 1 used pre-cast deck panels on the new Paleface River Bridge in Cotton. This was the first time MnDOT used this innovative approach to accelerate construction and reduce traffic impacts. The pre-cast method reduces the time bridges must be closed during construction since much of the deck panel work is done off-site.
  • Travel time signing plan implementation and market research to study the impacts of the deployment of this technology on public perception of projects
  • A new lighting system has been designed and will illuminate the Blatnik Bridge with a wash of light by the end of 2013. The effect is accomplished by casting light off the interior of the structure. MnDOT and WisDOT will share the cost to construct the new energy-efficient lighting system.
  • Durable pavement patching research and implementation


Taking on leadership roles came naturally to District 1 employees working in the spotlight and those working behind the scenes during the aftermath of destructive flooding in June 2012. District 1 employees worked long hours, in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions to safely reopen roadways for the traveling public.

The storm and flooding destroyed or heavily-damaged many bridges, highways and other transportation-related infrastructure, yet there were no deaths directly attributed to the storm, said to be a “1000-year-flood”.

District 1 was recognized as a leader in environmental stewardship nationally again in 2012 for its efforts to enhance the ecological and cultural sustainability of the region.


District 1 has the largest and most diverse Area Transportation Partnership in the state. District 1 meets twice yearly to seek guidance and direction from this diverse group of stakeholders. The ATP helps MnDOT set policy and investment guidelines and helps direct project implementation. The ATP is a full partner in planning, identifying and prioritizing the expenditure and effectiveness of federal transportation funds.

MnDOT District 1 is also active with the corridor coalitions in Northeastern Minnesota. MnDOT meets with these groups regularly to hear their concerns and requests for improvements to various highway corridors.