Research Publications, News and Information
2010 Newsline Feature
Road Closed: Research project analyzes full-closure construction
By Bob Filipczak
In the back of your mind, you probably knew that completely closing a road during construction makes sense in terms of efficiency and safety. But could you prove it?
Mn/DOT and University of Minnesota research staff can. In fact, the recent Research Services report, “TH-36 Full Closure Construction: Evaluation of Traffic Operations Alternatives,” analyzed how closing a highway affects the project and the public. In 2007, the department closed Hwy 36 in North St. Paul, which at the time was the largest full closure the department had ever planned and executed. This gave researchers an opportunity to evaluate the actual impact of a full closure in real time and measure how it affected nearby highways, local roads and safety.
The congestion impact from the full closure was mild, but it extended over a large area. Because many commuters from Wisconsin use Hwy 36, when it closed, some chose to cross the St. Croix River at Interstate 94 rather than Stillwater.
Two of the 12 local roads measured experienced some congestion—most local roads had enough spare capacity.
The Minnesota State Patrol and local police were originally on call for a week, but after two days it was determined that their services were not needed.
Overall, the team concluded that the construction cost savings far outweighed the increase in Road User Costs, which is a calculation designed to measure how much impact construction has on motorists. The research team also did a before-and-after snapshot of public perception. Before the full closure, there was a 50-50 split in public opinion whether it was a good idea. After the project was complete:
- 92 percent of residents agreed that a full closure was the right plan of action.
- 84 percent of businesses agreed with the decision to fully close the highway.
- 87 percent of commuters supported a full closure.
“There were a lot of early discussions about using full closure, and we thought people would be very uncomfortable with that. But our market research told us we could turn that around if we did it right,” said Commissioner Tom Sorel in an interview with the Federal Highway Administration’s Innovator newsletter.
2010 TRB Conference
Mn/DOT Research Services Guide to the Transportation Research Board 89th Annual Meeting
We are pleased to provide this Minnesota Guide to the Transportation Research Board 89th Annual Meeting. On the following pages we highlight the contributions of Minnesota Department of Transportation practitioners and Minnesota university researchers who will be among this year’s presenters and session leaders. These presentations span a wide variety of topic areas and modes—from traffic modeling to rural transportation services; from performance-based planning to pavement design; from congestion pricing to the impacts of light rail. The more than 80 entries in this guide are a testament to Minnesota’s leadership across the spectrum of transportation research.
The TRB Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for some 10,000 transportation professionals from around the world to exchange information, knowledge and insights on research that can be put to work for a better transportation system. We hope this guide will facilitate dialogue among Minnesota participants in the annual meeting, and among all Minnesota transportation professionals in industry, academia and public agencies.
More information about the TRB Annual Meeting is available at http://www.trb.org/meeting/.
November 2009 Peer Exchange and Pilot Workshop and upcoming January 2010 Webinar
Communicating the Value of Transportation Research
The Minnesota Department of Transportation Research Services Section hosted a workshop and peer exchange November 2 – 4, 2009 in Shoreview, Minnesota. Representatives from eight state DOTs, two Minnesota universities, and FHWA-Minnesota joined representatives from Mn/DOT to learn about effective strategies for communicating the value of transportation research and to share best practices with each other. A number of Mn/DOT program areas participated, including Traffic, Materials, State Aid, Research Services, Maintenance, Market Research, Communications, the Office of Policy Analysis, Research and Innovation and the Local Road Research Board. This report highlights the key observations and takeaways that came out of the workshop and peer exchange.
Final Report: Communicating the Value of Transportation Research Peer Exchange and Pilot Workshop (PDF) | Peer Exchange Presentations (PDF)
Mn/DOT NewsLine Article: Workshop focuses on communicating value of research, innovation
Workshop Guidebook Overview (NCHRP Report 610): Communication Matters: Communicating the Value of Transportation Research (PDF)