Monday, April 9, 2018

National Work Zone Awareness Week


ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is observing National Work Zone Awareness Week April 9-13 to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. 

The week is an annual spring campaign to coincide with the start of road construction season. MnDOT officially kicked off the construction season April 4, although many construction projects started earlier.

The theme for the week is “Work Zone Safety is Everybody’s Responsibility,” reinforcing the message that motorists and construction and maintenance workers should use extra caution in work zones.

More than 250 active work zones are scheduled throughout the state this construction season. A work zone is defined as any area where highway construction, maintenance or utility work is being done. Work zones are identified by warning signs, signals, barriers, pavement markings and flaggers.

Each year in the U.S., a work zone crash occurs once every 5.4 minutes. Every day, 70 work zone crashes occur that result in at least one injury. Every week, 12 work zone crashes occur that result in at least one fatality.

In Minnesota in the past four years, an average of seven people died in work zone crashes and more than 1,700 fatal or serious injury crashes occurred each year.

“Drivers and passengers are more likely to be killed in work zones than workers, but maintenance and construction crew workers have also lost their lives, been injured or had close calls,” said Jay Hietpas, Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology director. “Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash. Most of these crashes occur because of driver inattention and speeding, both behaviors we can change.”

Hietpas said MnDOT works to alert motorists in work zones and sets speeds that are safe for navigating through it. He said when entering work zones, motorists should obey the posted speed limits, pay attention to signs and flaggers, be patient and not drive distracted.

“These work zones exist because we’re making roads better and safer. We’re asking that people look for the work zones, slow down and put down their cellphones and other distractions,” Hietpas said. “The 511mn.org website is a good resource to check for road closures, detours and traffic incidents.”

The National Work Zone Awareness Week observance is in cooperation with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Federal Highway Administration and the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation.

Friday, April 6, 2018

MnDOT seeks Adopt a Highway volunteers


ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is looking for individuals and organizations to join the more than 4,100 groups and 16,000 people in the state who are Adopt a Highway volunteers.

The program, which realized an estimated $6 million benefit in 2017, is a public service project that helps reduce litter along the roadsides. It’s been part of MnDOT’s maintenance operations since 1990.

“Volunteers pick up litter, keep the roadways beautiful and save taxpayers money,” said Ann McLellan, statewide Adopt a Highway manager. “When our volunteers are out cleaning the roadway ditches, MnDOT crews use their time to build and maintain our highways. It’s a win-win for all and it shows that Minnesotans care about their state.”

There are 5,455 segments of roadways defined for the program. Of those segments, 1,719 are available for adoption.

“Most of the available segments are in Greater Minnesota. In the Twin Cities area, there are nine segments available,” said McLellan.
The volunteers, representing schools, businesses, faith-based organizations, families and individuals, clean up nearly 10,000 miles of Minnesota roadways each year.

Last year volunteer groups, ranging from four to 25 people, spent an estimated 239,000 hours picking up 36,658 bags of litter. That’s more than 112,000 pounds of litter. 

Individuals and groups who want to volunteer should go to www.mndot.gov/adopt/ to find their local area program coordinator. MnDOT provides safety training, trash bags and safety vests, and picks up the filled bags that volunteers leave at the side of the road. MnDOT also posts signs along the adopted segments of roads with the names of the volunteer groups.

Volunteers are asked to commit to the program for at least two years and pick up litter on both sides of the roadway at least twice a year. The average length of an adopted roadway is two to three miles, although some roads are longer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Congressman Peterson Seeking Entries to Congressional Art Competition



WASHINGTON – Congressman Collin C. Peterson is inviting Seventh District high school students to submit artwork for the 2018 Congressional Art Competition.

The Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students and the winning pieces are featured for one year in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the House Office Buildings to the U.S. Capitol.

“I encourage young artists from across the district to display their talent by entering this contest,” Peterson said. “The yearly competition is a great opportunity for local artwork to be showcased at the Capitol and I look forward to seeing everyone’s hard work.”

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 as an opportunity for Members of Congress to recognize and encourage the artistic talent of their young constituents. Since then, more than 650,000 high-school students have participated in the nation-wide contest. 

Submitted artwork may be up to 26 inches x 26 inches x 4 inches (including the frame) and weigh no more than 15 pounds. Accepted mediums include:

·         Paintings – including oil, acrylics and watercolor
·         Drawings – including pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink and markers
·         Collage (two-dimensional)
·         Prints – including lithographs, silkscreen and block prints
·         Mixed Media
·         Computer Generated Art
·         Photography

All entries must be original in concept, design and execution. Artwork that is a reproduction of another artist’s work, including photographs, does not qualify for this competition.

HOW TO APPLY:

To best ensure accessibility for all students, Peterson’s office will be accepting all Congressional Art Competition submissions online. Selection of the winning piece, made in early May, will be determined based upon the photograph submitted with the application.

To apply for the Congressional Art Competition, please submit a photograph of the artwork with the following information to congressional.art@mail.house.gov:
·         Student Name
·         Address
·         Phone Number
·         Artwork Title
·         Medium

The deadline for all submissions is Monday, April 23, 2018.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Speed limit increases on several Minnesota highways



BEMIDJI, Minn. – The speed limits on several highways in northwest Minnesota will increase from 55 to 60 miles per hour according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The new speed limits take effect when the new signs are posted.

Highways that will receive new speed limits signs include:
Northern Minnesota
·         Highway 34- Detroit Lakes to Park Rapids
·         Highway 64- Highway 200 to Highway 87
·         Highway 172- Baudette to Wheeler’s Point
·         Highway 310- Roseau to Canadian Border

Western Minnesota
·         Highway 9- Highway 10 to Sunburg
·         Highway 28- Browns Valley to Sauk Centre
·         Highway 34- Barnesville to Dunvilla

Speed limits lower than 55 miles per hour along these sections of highway will remain unchanged.

The speed increases are based on a traffic and engineering study of each location, which looks at past crash rates, physical attributes of the highway (such as shoulder widths and access points), and an analysis of current driving speeds.

In 2014, the Minnesota Legislature directed MnDOT to evaluate its two-lane, two-way 55 mph highways to determine whether speed limits could be reasonably and safely increased. The statewide study will end in 2019.

For updated road condition information, call 511 or visit www.511mn.org.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

MnDOT starts installing truck parking technology at rest areas




ST. PAUL, Minn. – Work is under way by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to install technology at seven rest areas in the state that will help truck drivers find safe parking along high-volume freight corridors.

Minnesota is working with seven other states to implement the Regional Truck Parking Information and Management System that will collect and broadcast real-time parking availability on dynamic message signs. In Minnesota the signs will be posted along the I-35 and I-94 corridors and on MnDOT’s 511 traveler information website. The network will become operational in January 2019 however some states, including Minnesota, could become operational sooner.

“Truck drivers sometimes spend 30 minutes or more looking for parking spots. We want to help them find safe, reliable parking so they don’t waste time looking, which decreases their downtime, and so they can move their products faster," said Dan Rowe, state project manager. “There will also be less fuel consumption and reduced emissions.”

The technology includes in-pavement sensors that detect the presence of the truck above it and send the information to MnDOT’s Regional Transportation Management Center. The RTMC technology interprets the data and sends the appropriate number of available parking spaces to the dynamic message signs.

Trucking companies’ dispatchers can also access the information on the 511 truckers’ page and relay the availability to their drivers.
Other states participating in the project are Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Truckers are required to comply with hours-of-service rules that limit how many hours they can drive. Fatigued driving is a major cause of preventable truck crashes.

“Rest areas fill up at night and truckers often park on exit ramps, which are unauthorized spots,” Rowe said. “This is a safety concern and when we provide safe parking for truckers, we also save lives by getting fatigued drivers off the road.”

Project funding comes from a $25 million U.S. DOT TIGER grant and the states. In Minnesota, the project will cost $1.4 million. MnDOT contributed $177,500.

The seven rest areas with the technology will be at Lake Lakota, Big Spunk Lake, Enfield, Elm Creek, St. Croix, Heath Creek and Forest Lake.

MnDOT and the other participating states first proposed the project when truck parking became a national safety concern following the 2009 murder of a trucker in South Carolina. Federal legislation, called Jason’s Law, put a national spotlight on addressing the shortage of long-term parking.