Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Planning & Programming

Advancing Transportation Equity Initiative


Community Conversations Engagement Project


The Community Conversations Engagement project is a series of in-person conversations between MnDOT and individuals who work with and represent underserved communities in Minnesota. Through these conversations MnDOT will learn directly from underserved communities regarding their unique experiences and struggles with transportation.
In 2018, MnDOT piloted the first set of community conversations in Northwest Minnesota. Currently, the project is focused on communities in Southwest Minnesota. 

Project highlights

For planning and operational purposes MnDOT groups Minnesota into eight different districts. The first district the Community Conversations took place was in District 2. Interviews are currently being conducting in District 8. Community Conversations in District 4 and District 6 will start summer 2019.

District 2

The pilot in District 2 is complete and final documents are available online. MnDOT conducted over 30 interviews with nonprofit, government, transit, education, tribal, and other partners to understand the transportation needs for underserved and underrepresented communities. Select findings include

  • Inadequate transportation options create barriers to the community
  • Private vehicles are common
  • Capacity of public transit does not meet demand
  • Land use and natural barriers also affect access
  • Relationships are key to engagement
  • People have many ideas to solve challenges with transportation equity
  • Organizations provided varied definitions and examples of equity

An implementation meeting completed at the end of the pilot identified priorities for the next six to 12 months for MnDOT to follow up on where the agency has relatively high influence. .

District 4

District 4 is in the early planning stage for the Community Conversation project. MAD is conducting an analysis of each county in the district to examine demographics and trends with focus on populations with known inequities. This analysis will be the basis for identifying and prioritizing key communities to include in the one-on-one interviews.

District 6

Demographic and trend analysis is nearly complete for District 6. The district hosted interviewer training in April 2019 ahead of one-on-one interviews in the summer.

District 8

The implementation plan meeting for District 8 is scheduled for late May 2019. Most interviews are complete though some group conversations with business representatives have tentatively scheduled for April and May 2019.

Remaining MnDOT districts

The remaining Greater Minnesota districts (1, 3, and 7) are planned for 2019-2021. Planning is underway for equity outreach for the Metro District.

Interested in participating?

We are currently looking for individuals, groups, agencies and organizations working with underserved communities in Southwest, Southeast and West Central Minnesota who are willing to be interviewed by MnDOT and Management Analysis and Development (a division with the Department of Management and Budget) staff. If you are interested in participating or would like to recommend an organization we should engage, please contact Hally Turner.

Frequently asked questions

How will MnDOT obtain and use the information gathered from this project?

The Community Conversations project will include a series of one-to-one, in-depth conversations between MnDOT and groups, agencies and organizations that work with and represent underserved communities in Minnesota. MnDOT will summarize the responses from the interviews to identify key actions MnDOT and its transportation partners can take to make meaningful change for these communities.

Where will this project take place?

The project started as a pilot in MnDOT’s District 2. Currently, the project is taking place in District 8 and start in District 6 and District 4 in summer 2019 respectively.

When will this project be completed?

The project will likely run through 2021 to ensure all districts are able to participate.

How will the findings from the project be communicated?

The information gathered from the interviews will be analyzed and presented in a final report, executive summary and trend analysis. We will also update the project website periodically.

Who is MnDOT partnering with to complete this project? 

MnDOT is primarily working with consultants from Management Analysis and Development (MAD), a division in the Department of Management and Budget, to help oversee and complete the tasks in this project. Other groups, agencies and organizations will be involved in specific interviews as part of this project.

How were the various key stakeholder communities identified?

Key stakeholder communities were identified by performing demographic analysis and consultation with MnDOT Central Office and district-level staff.

How can I participate in this project?

We are currently looking for individuals, groups, agencies and organizations working with underserved communities in Southwest, Southeast and West Central Minnesota willing to be interviewed by MnDOT staff. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Hally Turner.