District 8 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 8.
An overlay project on Highway 40 (located in Chippewa and Kandiyohi Counties) was desperately needed, but was not scheduled to be funded until 2016.
By incorporating efficiencies into other projects for this state fiscal year, MnDOT District 8 obtained lower than expected project bids and is now able to advance the Highway 40 project up by two years, to resurfacing during the summer of 2014.
Strategically advancing this particular project enables a more ideal timing for a pavement overlay, which will result in:
- A more cost-effective and lasting investment
- A smoother ride for freight movement, and
- An improved lifecycle for the pavement over the long-term.
The project provides a positive return-on-investment with inflation cost savings, less product damage for shippers and a more structurally sound and longer-lasting pavement.
Manufacturer's Perspective Study
In the spirit of trying to serve our customers well, District 8 initiated a study in 2013 to improve our understanding of the perspectives of manufacturers located in southwest Minnesota.
We felt that in order for us to make the best decisions that we can with limited transportation funding we must understand the perspectives of the people we serve. In the context of this study, we chose to focus on businesses that have a very significant impact on the economy and quality of life in southwest Minnesota –manufacturers. Manufacturers are in almost every city and town in this part of the state. And, they are often the primary employers in the area.
Consequently, we did in-person interviews with 75 local manufacturers and haulers to better understand their transportation related needs. “Manufacturers Perspectives on Transportation” (i.e. the study’s title) in MnDOT District 8 was a pilot project. Our goal is to turn what we learned from this study and turn it into meaningful action steps.
Our intent with the interviews has been to focus on the near-term (today through the next four years) improvements that we could make in district planning and operations. The study was about having a better understanding of transportation needs so that we can make the best project choices as well as the best choices in our daily operations.
The following is just a brief list of things that we heard from manufacturers and haulers that we are already starting to address, and incorporate, into our day-to-day business decisions:
- Smooth pavement is very important; rough roads damage products and vehicles and can cost thousands of dollars per incident.
- Wider shoulders and turning/passing lanes improve safety; shoulders must be firm and stable but do not necessarily need to be paved.
- Early communication about construction and detours is extremely important for transporting animals, food products and other time-sensitive products.
- Signage for detours, truck routes, and restrictions saves transporters time, money and aggravation.
- Snow and ice clearance is essential to enabling manufacturers to be competitive. Our snow and ice services are working well in most parts of the District. (Many positive comments.)
- 511 is being widely used; suggestions for improvement were made.
- Important to build relationships among MnDOT, economic development agencies, and manufacturers and haulers, beyond this point-in-time.
Bridge Life Cycle Costs
The statewide Bridge Assets Group is looking at how to effectively determine bridge life cycle costs, which includes proper coding of labor, equipment, and materials. Efforts within District 8 are being aligned with this.
District bridge employees have updated the lists of proper source codes and job numbers to use for various activities and explained to the crew lead workers--it will be explained to the full crews at the spring meeting. Accurate time sheet coding is being stressed. District bridge supervisors also stressing the importance of being prepared for the day’s work, such as:
- Having equipment and materials ready to go
- Avoiding extra trips, and
- Staying on priorities
Bridge supervisors are looking for employee feedback, as well, for what tends to prevent them-- or would help them--do their jobs more efficiently and safely. In addition, District 8 bridge crews plan to meet with their counterparts in District 7 to review their work order process and see if any additional efficiency can be incorporated into District 8 practices.
John Deere Equipment Rental
For the last 8 – 10 years District 8 was purchasing John Deere tractors to replace equipment that had exceeded their useful life cycle. These tractors, depending on the style and model, cost the district approximately $80,000 to $180,000. District 8 has about nine agricultural tractor/loaders. Central Office worked with the manufacturers and asked for bids a rental program.
The first year District 8 participated in an equipment rental program, they received International Harvester tractors at a rate of $1 per tach hour during the summer months. This year, the district received John Deere tractors at a rate of $.01 per tach hour. The district is utilizing 10 tractors this summer and will be getting six for the upcoming winter with loaders.
The rental program has benefitted the district by freeing up money from an extremely tight budget and has allowed the district to look at other priorities that will help maintain the rest of their fleet.
As we continue to grow with this program, District 8 will work to minimize the number of agricultural tractors that we own and try to find a balance between the number we rent versus the number we own.
Pilot Project - Marshall Inventory Vending Machines
Recently a partnership with Grainger was established in District 8’s Marshall Office which allows mechanics and other customers access to some fast moving items from a vending machine that they had formerly been getting from their inventory center.
The machine are stocked with supplies ranging from safety glasses to brake cleaner.
These new vending machines will give employees round-the-clock access to safety equipment and much more.
The employee will access the machine with their key card. They will have a password which will enable them to scroll through the choices.
Reports will be generated and issue history will be built.
This new system allows for easy access during snow and ice events and more accountability for employees in accessing these stock items.