In December, the Minnesota Local Road Research Board met and funded 13 new research projects to address issues facing the Minnesota transportation community, including vehicle-pedestrian crashes and changes in how urban speed limits are set.
Last year, the state’s city and county engineers proposed 125 research ideas for possible funding in FY2020. These ideas were prioritized and flushed out, with academic researchers ultimately submitting proposals on more than 20 ideas. Several additional projects were approved for funding through the LRRB’s research implementation program.
If you are interested in serving on the technical advisory panel for any of these projects or would like to receive project alerts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Research Funding Awards
Impact of Speed Limit Changes on Urban Streets (Jointly Funded with MnDOT) – Project Champion: Victor Lund, St Louis County
A change in state law allows Minnesota cities to establish speed limits without conducting an engineering or traffic investigation. Researchers will evaluate the impact of new speed limits on driver behavior in locations where they have been enacted and develop guidance for cities and counties on when speed limit changes are likely to achieve their desired effect. (Subscribe for updates)
The Impact of Deferred Maintenance in Minnesota – Project Champion: Paul Oehme, City of Lakeville
When local governments face fiscal problems, they often postpone maintenance of transportation infrastructure, leading to higher future costs. Researchers will investigate how cities and counties’ fiscal conditions are affecting their maintenance expenditures, and the impact of deferred maintenance on Minnesota’s local road system. Local governments will be able to use this data to make more informed policy decisions when setting their maintenance budgets. (Subscribe for updates)
Assessing Pavement Markings for Automated Vehicle Readiness (Jointly Funded with MnDOT) – Project Champion: Jay Hietpas, MnDOT Engineering Services
Will Minnesota’s pavement marking standards meet the needs of advancing automated vehicle technologies? Would marking standards recommended by national transportation groups provide a significant advantage over Minnesota practices? Are there other types of marking improvements that Minnesota should consider? These questions will be addressed, as well as the impact of environmental conditions, like salt residue, on pavement marking use by automated vehicles. (Subscribe for updates)
Taconite as a Lower Cost Alternative High Friction Surface Treatment to Calcined Bauxite for Low-Volume Roads in Minnesota – Project Champion: Mao Yang, MnDOT State Aid
Calcined bauxite, the recommended product for High Friction Surface Treatments (HFST), is imported, expensive and energy-intensive to produce. A less expensive, Minnesota mining byproduct, Mesabi (taconite) friction aggregate, will be evaluated to determine if it could provide adequate or comparable field skid resistance performance, and either partially or fully replace calcined bauxite in HFST applications. (Subscribe for updates)
Transverse Rumble Strips at Rural Intersections – Project Champion: Victor Lund, St. Louis County
Investigation of the role of transverse rumble strips in alerting distracted or fatigued drivers at rural side-street stop controlled intersections, and whether the lack of effectiveness noted in some research studies is due to driver misjudgment of traffic gaps. Researchers also hope to recommend an optimal design that could lead to more utilization of transverse rumble strips at intersections with known stop sign-running issues. (Subscribe for updates)
Driver Comprehension of Flashing Yellow Arrows – Project Champion: Victor Lund, St. Louis County
Although the Federal Highway Administration considers flashing yellow arrows (FYAs) a dramatic improvement over circular green (CG) lights for indicating permitted left-turns at signalized intersection, driver complaints and some high-profile crashes have called into question how well drivers understand them. Time-of-day changes between protective and permissive phasing may be contributing to driver confusion. This research study plans to test driver comprehension of different traffic signal indications and develop guidance on appropriate implementation of FYAs for various conditions. ( Subscribe for updates)
Benefit/Cost of Applying a Higher Asphalt Film Thickness (AFT) vs. Doing a Chip Seal at Year 1 – Project Champion: Bruce Hasbargen, Beltrami County
In Minnesota, reducing the influence of oxidation is a continuous challenge. Researchers will compare the effectiveness of two different methods: applying a surface treatment (typically a fog or chip seal) and increasing the asphalt film thickness during original construction. (Subscribe for updates)
Development of a Smartphone App to Warn the Driver of Advance Curve and Unintentional Lane Departure Using GPS Technology – Project Champion: Victor Lund, St. Louis County
Previous LRRB research developed an innovative lane departure detection and warning algorithm for a system that can warn drivers of curves and lane departure using standard GPS technology. This technique can be implemented in vehicles. Additional research will develop a smartphone application that can also deploy this information. (Subscribe for updates)
Pedestrian Engineering and Enforcement at Signalized Intersections (Jointly Funded with MnDOT) – Project Champions: Amber Dallman and Sonja Piper, MnDOT
The “Stop for Me” campaign in St. Paul has proven successful to improve driver yielding rates at unsignalized intersections, but our most serious pedestrian crashes occur at signalized intersections. This study will evaluate how to improve compliance with crosswalk law and subsequent reduction of pedestrian-vehicle crashes at signalized intersections through education and enforcement. (Subscribe for updates)
Guidelines for Safer Pedestrian Crossings: Understanding the Factors that Positively Influence Vehicle Yielding to Pedestrians at Unsignalized Intersections (Jointly Funded with MnDOT) – Project Champions: Hannah Pritchard and Amber Dallman, MnDOT
Stopping sight distance and a driver’s ability to perceive a pedestrian are negatively impacted by the speed of the vehicle. The study will examine driver compliance with Minnesota crosswalk laws when traveling at various speeds on roadways with varying road designs and/or types of treatments. Road design components could include number of lanes, turn lanes, channelized turn lanes, medians, or curb extensions. Treatments could include marked crosswalks, signs, advanced stop lines, Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons, or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons. (Subscribe for updates)
Pedestrian User Experience at Roundabouts (Jointly Funded with MnDOT) – Project Champion: Gina Mitteco, Dakota County
Roundabouts reduce the severity of crashes at intersections, but transportation agencies have received some feedback from pedestrians indicating that roundabouts, especially larger multi-lane roundabouts, can be difficult to navigate. This project will look at pedestrian safety data, best practices for pedestrian features at roundabouts, and features that can be implemented to help pedestrians be seen, noticed, and yielded to. (Subscribe for updates)
Cost-Effective Roadside Vegetation Methods to Support Insect Pollinators (Jointly Funded with MnDOT) – Project Champions: Wayne Sandberg, Washington County, and Chris Smith, MnDOT Environmental Stewardship
Pollinators such as rusty-patched bumble bees and Monarch butterflies are at risk due to the loss of native habitat from increasing development, intensive agricultural practices, and greater use of pesticides. Roadside habitats have grown in importance as they can provide habitat and act as migratory corridors. This research will establish roadside vegetation management recommendations with the potential for maintenance cost savings. (Subscribe for updates)
Evaluate Effectiveness of Storm Ponds and Wetlands for Water Quality – Project Champion: Ross Binter, City of Edina
The LRRB produced the Stormwater Maintenance BMP Resource Guide in 2009 and the Decision Tree for Stormwater BMPs in 2001. Recent studies, such as Urban Stormwater Ponds can be a Source of Phosphorous, suggest that stormwater ponds may not offer the best long-term solution. This research will study stormwater ponds and determine both their cost effectiveness and long-term effectiveness as a best management practice. (Subscribe for updates)
See the MnDOT website for additional new research projects, funded by the state research program.