Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Project development

Engineering process | Planning | Transit

Transit process


The goal of this guidance is to provide improved safety for all road users and ensure MnDOT’s compliance with federal guidance, state legislation, and departmental policy regarding transit systems operating on state roadways. While most transit projects are planned separately from highway construction projects, project managers can take steps to ensure that state roadways include provisions for current or future transit systems. Planning and design considerations may differ depending on whether the project is fixed route, paratransit, or dial-a-ride, and whether it is in an urban, suburban, or rural community. Considerations for those geographies are described below.

Just like all other modes, project managers should begin planning for transit facilities in the scoping phase and fully integrate it throughout the transportation project development process to result in safe, comfortable, and convenient transit facilities on state roadways.

Transit facilities on transportation projects

It is important to analyze transit needs from the beginning of the project development process. In compliance with the Complete Streets policy, MnDOT is responsible for developing and executing designs that incorporate a Complete Streets approach as part of every project delivered. Designs should balance and address the needs of all transportation users, taking into account the context of each project. Project managers should consider whether there are existing or future transit needs along the roadway, and include consideration of those needs when creating roadway designs and completing Complete Streets Project Reports.

Many communities have already engaged in some level of planning for transit systems, and the trunk highway system is an important part of these local networks. MnDOT maintains a website and map that provides information about existing transit systems.

Pre-scoping engagement work is critical to understanding the needs of transit systems and transit users in the project area. Communicate with local jurisdictions to align the MnDOT project with existing and planned transit routes and identify whether designs should incorporate or accommodate transit stops. The Office of Transit and Active Transportation’s (OTAT’s) Planning Unit is available to assist.

Existing road conditions may not meet the needs of transit users, and as such it is important to evaluate alternatives. For identified needs, include improvement(s) in the project to the extent feasible. Reference the MnDOT Road Design Manual Chapter 11-3.17 when considering design parameters for transit stops. Chapter 4-4.03 has specifications for shoulder use by buses.

Projects within the Twin Cities Metro and other urban contexts

When capital transit investments (i.e. transit infrastructure) include intersections or alignments with MnDOT roadways, MnDOT staff can provide planning and design-related support. OTAT staff are available to provide support as requested.

One way MnDOT contributes to urban transitways is by providing transit advantages on state highways. Transit advantages facilitate moving more people faster along existing corridors by bypassing peak-hour congestion. MnDOT provides a number of advantages for transit on its system of state highways. These advantages include bus shoulders, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, park-and-ride lots, and HOV bypasses. Planning and coordination of these amenities in MnDOT’s Metro District is the responsibility of MnDOT’s Transit Advantages Coordinator. Team Transit is a partnership between Metro Transit, MnDOT, Metropolitan Council, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, transit providers, and metro-area counties and municipalities.

Bus shoulder needs comprise the greatest portion of Team Transit projects, and are prioritized based on roadway congestion and anticipated bus use. At times, these needs can be met with the simple placement of roadway signs authorizing bus shoulder use. More often, the shoulders will require strengthening and/or widening to appropriately and safely accommodate bus use. Team Transit has developed a preliminary list that identifies potential expansion to the bus shoulder system. Some of these segments include portions of the IRC system outside the 494/694 beltway. To accommodate future bus use and roadway preservation activities, the Metro Division has adopted a new typical cross section for new construction or reconstruction of freeways and expressways.

MnDOT also assists the Metropolitan Council and county transit authorities in planning, designing, financing and constructing light rail and commuter rail lines. Planning and funding for Commuter Rail, Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a collaborative effort involving staff from Federal Transit Authority (FTA), MnDOT, Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, and representatives of the counties, cities, and in some cases townships along transitways. The Metropolitan Council’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan Chapter 6 outlines Metro Transit’s investment direction and plan. The Service Improvement Plan is a service expansion plan that builds on the existing bus network and identifies opportunities to add new routes and improve frequency and span on existing service.

When roadway improvements are being developed in the seven-county metro area, Metropolitan Transportation Services and/or Metro Transit staff should be contacted to determine the coordination required. The Project Scoping Report includes space for Team Transit and MnDOT’s Transit Advantages Coordinator to provide comments on how the project will affect existing and planned transit facilities, including bus stops, in-place bus shoulders, park and ride sites, and transit service. The project manager can then respond to comments about each facility type, describing how the roadway design will incorporate suggestions.

Projects in Greater Minnesota

The Greater Minnesota Transit Plan (2009) is a 20-year plan that describes current challenges to transit systems in the state, examines future transit service needs, and proposes strategic investment directions based on different funding levels. The Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan (2011, 2017 update) sets priorities for transit investments in scenarios of both expanded and contracted future funding. The 2019 Transit Report: A Guide to Greater Minnesota's Public Transit Systems gives residents and elected officials an overview of public transit services in Greater Minnesota. The report includes fact sheets that describe each of these state-supported public transit systems and provide information about expenditures, and operating budgets. Over 30 small and mid-sized Greater Minnesota transit systems completed five-year transit plans that identify system strengths, unmet needs, and future transit service changes. 

Project managers for construction projects on roads used by fixed-route transit systems should consult the transit system in question to ensure that the roadway design accommodates the needs of the transit provider, including bus stops, park-and-rides, and/or in place bus shoulders or HOV lanes.

For dial-a-ride and other on-demand transit systems, project managers should consult the transit provider to determine if there are any common pick-up or drop-off locations along the project roadway. They should then coordinate with transit providers to ensure that facilities provide safe and comfortable access for transit users, if applicable. These pick-up or drop-off locations may be popular community destinations, which suggests an opportunity to consider needs of people walking from transit to these or nearby destinations.

All projects

Providing safe, comfortable, and convenient access to transit facilities is a MnDOT priority. Consider designs that improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety when accessing transit stops on trunk highways. Roadways used by all types of transit systems should provide safe and comfortable access to transit facilities for people walking or bicycling along the roadway to the transit stop. Bus/transit access is a priority destination identified in Minnesota Walks, a guiding document co-produced by MnDOT and the Minnesota Department of Health. Additional information about creating safe places for people to walk can be found in MnDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian System Plan.

It is the project manager’s responsibility to contact the following stakeholders during the scoping phase of the proposed project regarding transit facilities: