MnDOT District 1 has completed numerous projects to improve the safety of the transportation system. Projects of note include: replacement of fracture critical bridges; forensic testing to determine the condition of suspension cables on the Richard I. Bong Bridge (Hwy 2 ); incorporation of Americans with Disabilities Act provisions into all district projects; addition of safety turn lanes at selected highway intersections; installation of wet reflective roadway markings and edge line rumble strips to numerous rural highways; meetings with Safe Communities groups to pursue Toward Zero Death safety initiatives, and development of a district-wide culvert replacement project to prevent the risk of culvert failures that could create traffic safety problems.
In addition to proactively addressing mobility issues that caused by the I-35 Improvement Project (see Leadership below for more details), the district is completing other tasks that will improve mobility throughout the area. These initiatives include the recent completion of the Great Minnesota State Transit Plan, obtaining Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) funding to provide access to jobs for residents of Lake, St. Louis and Itasca counties and ongoing capital improvement projects with the Duluth Transit Authority (such as the Arrowhead Transit operating facility in Koochiching County).
The district recently implemented several innovative projects.
- On Hwy 70, the district constructed an experimental stabilized base system and is currently monitoring the strength of the roadbed. If successful, the experiment may allow reduced pavement thickness on future projects, which will help reduce total project costs.
- The district is also testing different road salt application techniques on the freeway system in Duluth to help determine the best procedures to improve safety during snow and ice events.
- Finally, a new intersection design was constructed at a local intersection where a series of serious crashes have occurred. The new reduced conflict intersection is designed to help eliminate damaging right-angle or T-bone accidents by providing drivers who don't judge gaps well improved access points. A study on J-turn effectiveness conducted in North Carolina found the turns reduced fatal/injury crash rates by 51 percent.
Recognizing that the lane closures on I-35 create disruption to the traveling public, the district is proactively managing traffic on the project by adding ITS smart workzone features along the I-35 corridor to give motorists travel information that they can use to select alternative routes if I-35 is congested.
District One is also a leader in environmental stewardship and has been recognized nationally for its projects which enhance the ecological and cultural sustainability of the region.
District One has the largest and most diverse Area Transportation Partnership in the State of Minnesota. District One meets with the ATP twice a year to seek guidance and direction from this diverse group of stakeholders. The ATP helps MnDOT set policy and investment guidelines as well as providing direction on project implementation. The ATP is a full partnership in the planning, identification, prioritization, expenditure and effectiveness measurement on the use of federal transportation funds.
MnDOT District One is extremely active with the corridor coalitions that have formed in NE MN. MnDOT meets with these groups on a regular basis to hear their concerns and requests for a variety of improvements to various highway corridors.