Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Congressional Transportation Status Report

About District 7


District 7 Overview

Enhancing Financial Effectiveness

MnDOT is focused on stretching tax payer dollars while continuing to deliver effective and highly valued products, services and programs. Today we are using technology, partnerships, performance-based design, contracting methods, etc. to reduce costs, save time and limit impacts to travelers, shippers and businesses in order to deliver efficient and reliable multimodal transportation. A strategic priority, financial effectiveness is demonstrated by the following programs, among others, at MnDOT District 7.

Project Management

  • Recently, two traffic-heavy, high-crash intersections on Hwy 22, in the retail area of Mankato, were identified as needing immediate work.
  • Of the eight approaches involved, three are city streets, one is a county road and the others are state highway.
  • Accordingly, the issue needed to be addressed jointly with a collaborative partnership between the city of Mankato, Blue Earth County and MnDOT.
  • The solution is becoming a reality in 2014, with the addition of a multi-lane roundabout at each of the two intersections.
  • The city also played a key role in identifying local business access, coordinating business signing and supporting education efforts.
  • As a result of incorporating roundabouts into the roadways, the immediate benefits are great:
  • With traffic volumes today ranging from 25,000 to 30,000 average daily traffic (ADT), motorists can expect a 75 percent reduction in delay during afternoon rush hour and a 24 percent delay reduction in the same time period 20 years into the future.
  • In addition, with a roundabout, injury crashes are expected to be 79 percent less than a signalized intersection.
  • The total benefit (crash and delay reduction) over a 20-year-span will be twice the benefit ($17.6M) of a signal alternative.
  • The partners have worked closely with area businesses and accelerated the construction schedule to alleviate any concerns that might exist.

Asset Management

  • District 7 maintenance crews are continually trying new and innovated methods not done in the past - new products, such as a high performance poly patching material (Mastics), micro surfacing to keep up with the growing demand of smooth roads for our customers.  As our highway system ages and construction funds are limited, it becomes more and more important to find ways to preserve the road surface in an efficient manner.  To date they have found products that work extremely well in certain conditions, but traditional methods (seal coats and chip seals) still have benefits under some circumstances.
  • Another part of our aging highways that is rarely noticed are the culverts under the road that keep drainage from damaging the road subsurface and causing problems for neighboring landowners.  These can be costly to replace and replacement requires digging into the roadway and detours for the motoring public.  District 7 hydraulics experts have determined that it is considerably more cost effective to insert a plastic liner and extend the life of the culvert for as long as the original steel structure. Failing culverts on four state highways will have liners inserted during the 2014 construction season.

Financial Management

A recent and highly successful example of partnering with the Region 9 Development Commission resulted in an Economic Development Agency grant of $9.8 million toward flood mitigation on U.S. Hwy 169 – a major corridor that has been closed 7 times due to high water in the past 20 years.

Without these additional dollars from the EDA the district would have had a minor preservation project (mill and overlay) on only the southbound lanes of Highway 169 from Mankato to St. Peter – 9 miles.

Now because of the EDA grant, we are able to do 3 miles (4 different areas totaling 3 miles) of reconstruction/grade raise (ranges from 3’-5.5’ of raise) on both northbound and southbound Highway 169, and 6 miles of preservation work, both NB and SB Highway 169. We are also putting in high tension cable barrier in the center of the paved median over the 9 miles.

This will occur as two projects which will be let in November of 2015 and constructed in 2016 with a total construction cost of $25M. The end result is 1 foot of freeboard above the 100-yr flood elevation for the southbound lanes from Mankato to St. Peter – running two-way two-lane traffic on the southbound lanes during high water flooding events.

U.S. Highway 169 is an important Inner-Regional Corridor with a high number of both heavy commercial traffic and passenger cars. A large area of south central Minnesota, northern Iowa, and eastern South Dakota rely on U.S. Highway 169 for shipment of agricultural products (such as corn, beans, ethanol, hogs, and cattle), manufactured goods both in and out of the area (we have several manufactures including Toro, Caterpillar, Carlson Craft), other products (fracking sand, wind turbines, etc.), and a major retailer’s distribution center planned for construction in Mankato. The flooding events that force detours from U.S. Highway 169 and Minnesota 22 are costly in terms of time and money. Allowing commerce to continue during these floods will not only help our area to continue to grow and prosper, but also maintain vital supply chains during disasters or other emergency situations.