Technical Advisory Panels: Making Research Work (Series)
Technical Advisory Panels play a crucial role in transportation research projects in Minnesota. The goal of this video series is to help clarify the roles and responsibilities of the TAP members.
Every TAP is composed of at least three members: the principal investigator, who performs the research; the technical liaison, who is the champion for the research, and the project coordinator, who monitors the research contract. Additional members may also serve on the panel to bring needed expertise to the project.
Stop Signs: Why Do We Have Them on Residential Roads?
Learn about the purpose of stop signs on residential roads. Do you think stop signs slow down traffic? Who should decide where stop signs should be placed? Watch this video to see what the research says.
Research referenced in this video:
Richard F. Beaubein, "Controlling Speeds on Residential Streets", Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal, 1989 (Link)
Minnesota Manual on Traffic Control Devices: (Link)
Learn about the purpose of speed limits. Do you think lowering a speed limit will slow down traffic? Should residential speed limits be set differently for different roads? Watch this video to see what the research says.
Research referenced in this video:
Parker Jr., Martin R. "Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits on Selected Roadway Sections." Publication No. FHWA-RD-9 7-084, Federal Highway Administration, McLean, Virginia, January 1997. (Link)
Minnesota's cities and counties are working hard to keep roads safe and smooth.
Local Pothole Professionals like those featured in this video respond to citizen reports of potholes and proactively patch potholes — on an interim basis during the spring thaw and on a permanent basis throughout the warmer months.
Video sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board.
(Available in high-definition)
How About a Roundabout?
The Minnesota Experience
A modern roundabout is a circular intersection where traffic flows around a center island.
Today, roundabouts can be alternatives to traffic signals and stop signs to control traffic. In many cases, they have several advantages over signals and stop signs, including:
fewer injury crashes and fatalities;
increased pedestrian safety; and
less vehicle delay and pollution.
Roundabouts, like all intersections, undergo thorough analysis prior to implementation to determine if it is the appropriate solution.
Today, roadways are designed using engineering factors that establish the quantity, type and thickness of material that needs to be used to balance vehicle loads and roadway use.
Among other factors, current pavement design considers the amount, type and weight of the traffic using the road. This data is used to calculate an ESAL (equivalent single-axle load) factor; this factor is a way of measuring the impact that a vehicle will have on a pavement.
Pavements can be viewed as a "consumable" and are designed to carry an estimated number of ESALs over their design life. As each vehicle passes over a pavement, a portion of its life (the vehicle’s ESAL factor) is consumed. Eventually, a pavement’s life is expended, and it needs to be reconstructed… (read more)
Making informed decisions on when to upgrade a gravel road
Paved roads provide improvement over gravel in ways that are hard to quantify with dollars, including improved winter surfaces, improved safety from improved signage and delineation, a safer surface with higher skid resistance, a smoother surface that increases user satisfaction and reduces vehicle maintenance costs, redistribution of traffic away from gravel roads, and an increased tax base on adjacent property.
Of the estimated 4 million miles of roads in the United States, nearly half—1.5 million miles—are unpaved. Unpaved roads serve a valued purpose in our roadway system, but maintenance costs are significant. Paved roadways also are costly to maintain. (read more)
A Snow Plow — COOL!
This video addresses safety around snowplows. It is designed for 2nd and 3rd grade children.
City and county public works departments are encouraged to visit schools in conjunction with this video to build connections with their communities and take an active role in safety.
The video relates the story of Donnie and Althea, 10-year old neighbors, who had a near-accident with a snowplow. The snowplow bears down on them as they hide in their “fort” near the street. Luckily, the driver sees their sled and shovels and suspects trouble. The plow stops just in time.
Donnie and Althea tell what they learned from the plow driver about snow safety. The video also addresses safety while sliding and waiting for the school bus.
Collecting trash by hand along highway shoulders and medians in the Twin Cities metropolitan area costs about $2 million per year, is time-consuming and presents serious safety hazards for Mn/DOT workers. Investigators designed a prototype "trash harvester" for picking up litter in grassy areas. While this prototype did not perform to Mn/DOT expectations and will not be commercialized at this time, it provides a starting point for further research, design and testing.