Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Sept. 19, 2016

Orange barrels on a highway

MnDOT honors Rochester, Albert Lea staff efforts enhancing financial effectiveness

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Two southeastern Minnesota work groups with the Minnesota Department of Transportation recently received awards from the agency for innovative work that enhances financial effectiveness.

MnDOT Deputy Commissioner Sue Mulvihill presented the two groups with awards during ceremonies at MnDOT in Albert Lea and Rochester. The two groups were among 14 MnDOT winners statewide.

  • In Albert Lea, the truck station workers were honored for their planting of native grasses and flowers that aid in reducing snow drifting along Interstate 35. The plantings also do not require mowing, so these stretches require fewer work hours by maintenance workers both in the summer and in the winter, thereby saving money. Additionally, the native flowers are used by pollinators, which is another initiative along I-35.
  • In Rochester, the Hydraulic Inspection Vehicle Explorer is an enhanced radio-operated car, which allows MnDOT to inspect culverts and pipes to determine if any repairs or replacement is needed. Often the culverts and pipes are too small for a person to enter it to visually inspect it, so the vehicle is operated via radio control with a camera and lights to record and view conditions with just one specialist at the site. It has discovered damage in culverts underneath roads long before the problem becomes an emergency. The device was modified by Rochester MnDOT workers in the inventory department, who are experienced radio-operated car hobbyists. They are building similar devices for other MnDOT districts and creating an online guide for parts, repairs and operation to allow all MnDOT users to access the information when issues arise.

Additionally, District 6’s traffic department, along with its bridge maintenance and construction departments, was awarded a finalist mention for its use of a temporary overhead sign that can be used continually on construction projects to alert motorists of the correct traffic lane to be in when traffic splits different directions in a construction zone.

The awards are part of MnDOT’s efforts to enhance its financial effectiveness and recognize the work of its employees to improve and innovate.

“This is recognition of the work that goes on across MnDOT every day to do the job better,” said Mulvihill, who is the agency’s chief engineer.

Jeff Vlaminck, the district engineer for District 6, noted that the work is illustrative of what has been a culture of improving efficiency and effectiveness in District 6, as well as in all of MnDOT.

“Many times, we see that our departments have been doing this sort of innovation regularly through the years,” Vlaminck said. “This is an effort to acknowledge that past, as well as encourage the great work that we are witnessing now.”

MnDOT District 6 is an 11-county region that is one eight MnDOT districts. District 6 is from the Mississippi River to just west of Interstate 35 and the Iowa border to just north of Highway 19, and includes the cities of Winona, Rochester, Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna and Red Wing.

MnDOT urges motorists to always drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones.

For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.

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