Twin Cities traffic congestion has been getting worse in recent years, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) labeling more than 23 percent of the metro area’s highways as congested. This could be a big problem in upcoming years, as that lack of free travel typically negatively impacts an area’s economy. “Traffic congestion is going to be a barrier for economic development because it creates friction among activities. It’s going to harm the economy,” Professor Jason Cao told Alpha News. “On the other hand, traffic congestion is an indicator of business activity in itself.” Cao is a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He specializes in urban planning, transportation planning, and sustainable development. Cao noted that in weaker economies, traffic congestion on the whole decreases.
A group of Minnesotans from government, tech and academia peered into the future of our roadways Friday at a self-driving car symposium — of sorts.... A recent University of Minnesota report estimated that fully autonomous, “Level 4” cars could hit the market by 2025.... University of Minnesota researcher Frank Douma, who studies self-driving cars, was more bullish on solving the wintry problem. "Half the country gets snow," he said. "There’s not going to be a market for these vehicles if they don’t figure it out."
The floods of Houston and Mumbai represent a human tragedy in terms of the number of people who died or who have become homeless in their wake. These floods, though, also represent an opportunity to explore smarter and more adaptable ways of living in such flood-prone places, an opportunity that we should not miss. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)
Self-driving vehicles are seen as the way of the future in Otter Tail County and all across the state and nation. To that end, county board members invited Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute at the University of Minnesota, to address the county board August 22 in Ottertail at the county operations center. "Dealing with the unexpected when it comes to self-driving vehicles is the real challenge," said Donath. "For that reason, we're not there yet when it comes to widespread use of self-driving vehicles." A version of this story also was published in The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
City officials have been holding back downtown parking construction for years. Lately they have doubled down, investing in bicycle lanes and approving new apartment buildings with few parking spaces that encourage people to find ways besides cars to get around.... Authorities on urban parking are looking further ahead, to a future with self-driving, self-parking cars, although it’s a future that is admittedly a ways off, said Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. "Until we get to the day of self-driving cars, we’ll probably have to provide some parking for some people," he said.
Privacy objections have already stalled another gas-tax alternative — a tax based on how many miles a vehicle drives in Minnesota. The 2008 transportation bill authorized a study of a mileage-based tax that the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota concluded in December 2011. The 25-member study group’s recommendation: More study.
We know distracted driving is a problem but what are we doing about it? What can we as a society do about this growing epidemic? It's been an ongoing discussion at KARE 11 and we are hoping it's a discussion you continue to have at home. KARE 11's Alicia Lewis sat down with a panel of experts on distracted driving for our #eyesUP day at the Minnesota State fair.... Dr. Kaz Nelson: Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota. She discusses the teenage brain and why we do the things we do when behind the wheel.
Three medical professional groups have expressed disapproval over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s and the Federal Railroad Administration’s Aug. 4 decision to withdraw a proposed rule on obstructive sleep apnea.... A March 2016 study from the University of Minnesota, Morris determined that drivers who do not follow their prescribed treatment for OSA are five times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers without OSA.
When systems don’t have funds for the most basic of needs, like maintenance, workers who rely on public transit to travel even short distances may find their commutes grueling, unpredictable, and sometimes even life-threatening.... And our country’s unemployed, underemployed and lowest income populations, who can’t afford vehicles but can afford bus and subway fares, are put at an even greater disadvantage. In some cases, lack of access to public transportation can feel like the cruelest of jokes. Take Minnesota’s Twin Cities, for example. A recent study by the University of Minnesota found that the largest concentration of unemployed workers in the region lack fast or frequent transit service to available jobs. Researchers noted that disadvantaged jobs seekers are often qualified for entry-level positions located in the suburbs, but have no way of actually getting to those jobs.
"The biggest issue for Uber is how to generate enough cash to fund internal investments," Evan Rawley, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and an expert on corporate strategy and entrepreneurship, told HuffPost in an email earlier this year. "If they have to go back to the capital markets with so much red ink flowing, the current investors will take a huge haircut on their investment."
Will the rise of car sharing diminish the need for the parking ramps on the edge of downtown Minneapolis? Humphrey School researcher Frank Douma comments.
Static and digital roadside signs conveying minimal information often are the only notice to warn motorists approaching a construction zone to slow down and be cautious. Drivers get so used to seeing the signs that they don’t pay attention to them and behave as if all work zones are the same, said Chen-Fu Liao, a senior systems engineer at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory. What if there were a better way to alert drivers and get their attention? This summer Liao and a research team are developing and testing the Work Zone Alert app, which would deliver messages directly to drivers in their vehicles through their smartphones or vehicle’s infotainment system.... The U’s Human First Lab found those who relied on audio from their phone had less mental workload.
Last fall Los Angeles County voters approved Measure M, a sales tax increase that will provide billions of dollars for transportation projects. Some of the money is given to cities in the form of “local return” funds, and some is devoted to highway upgrades. But two-thirds of the proceeds are slated for public transit improvements and subsidies.... According to a 2014 study by the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies, Los Angeles ranks third nationwide, behind only New York and San Francisco, in the share of its residents who relied on public transit to get to work. And in another category, the area ranked first: transit agencies here have a higher percentage of low-income riders than anywhere else in the nation.
After the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minnesota a decade ago, the monitoring systems took on greater importance and have been more widely used on vehicle and railroad bridges, according to experts.... The smart bridge is outfitted with systems that read such factors as bridge temperature, movement and stresses. The sensors located inside the concrete measure strain and temperature, while others fastened onto the outside of bridge look more closely at strain and vibration. MnDOT joined forces with the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to monitor data from the sensors.
While “toot-toots” and “hooooonks” are part of the sound fabric of cities such as New York and Chicago, Minnesota drivers rarely sound off with their horns — even in the face of the most egregious, selfish driving maneuvers. When you’re Minnesota Nice, honking comes with internal conflict. “Honking feels hostile in Minnesota,” said researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota. “In other places, it’s totally acceptable to honk and nobody gets too bent out of shape about it.”
A 4.3-acre parcel tucked into a popular St. Paul neighborhood could be a blank slate for a creative developer. The St. Paul Board of Water Commissioners last week sent out a request for proposals to develop the site of a defunct 18-million-gallon water reservoir site along Snelling Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood.... One consideration might be what happens with the redevelopment of the Ford manufacturing site about a mile west of the reservoir, said Carissa Slotterback, a professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Minnesota.
An electronic monitoring system on the new Interstate 35W St. Anthony Falls bridge uses vibrations to help monitor the bridge’s structural integrity. By analyzing the vibration data, MnDOT is working to develop monitoring systems that could detect early structural defects and ultimately allow engineers to improve bridge designs. A research study, led by University of Minnesota assistant professor Lauren Linderman, was completed in February.
Congratulations to soon-to-be Dr. Jessica Schoner for successfully defending her dissertation: ‘Mutually Reinforcing Relationships Between Bicycling Infrastructure’ before a standing room only crowd at the University of Minnesota campus on 21 August 2017.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has released a report that analyzes the performance of turfgrasses under road salt. This report addresses three areas: pre-establishment soil amendments, planting date, and watering during establishment.
The Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee (MFAC) invites all individuals interested in freight to participate in an open forum in Duluth. It will be an opportunity for MFAC members and the regional freight community to discuss the shipment of goods in and out of Northeastern Minnesota. The event will focus on the Duluth area transportation network, land-use plans, and how Duluth-area freight and transportation professionals work together to provide safe and efficient movement of goods. The forum will be held on Friday, September 8, 2017.
Last month, Eagan-based Sun Country got a new CEO. This week in a memo to staff, all signs are pointing to Sun Country changing course. The airline is going from a pretty cozy carrier to an ultra low-cost carrier. Good move? "Airlines are a good way to lose money so the joke has always been an airline is an industry where you start as a billionaire and you wind up as a millionaire," said George John of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
There are many major societal trends for which architects can contribute health-promoting improvements: obesity, housing and social inequities, an aging population, hazardous chemical exposures, urbanization, nature contact deficit, energy poverty, water shortages and excesses, natural disasters, and climate change. For example, an architect can design an attractive stairway that invites use. Providing daylighting in a school or workplace offers mental health and productivity benefits as well as energy savings for lighting. Creating a transit-oriented development encourages its residents to walk and use transit more and to drive less, with benefits that include increased physical activity, improved air quality, and fewer motor vehicle injuries. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)
The annualized driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets was 74 percent in the first quarter and the industry was short about 48,000 drivers at the end of 2015. That shortage is expected to balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024, according to the American Trucking Associations. “Every truckload carrier is always scrambling to fill their trucks,” Stephen Burks, an economist at the University of Minnesota Morris who used to be a driver, said in an interview.
Growing suburbs’ strategy of paying for new roads and other infrastructure by charging builders fees for development could be upended by a legal challenge before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.... John Adams, a former University of Minnesota professor who has studied the fees, said the initial property taxes paid by new homes aren’t typically enough to cover the extra road costs. Without the fees, he said, the burden for paying for the city’s expansion falls on existing residents.
Today, Minnesota’s new I-35W bridge is outfitted with a “Smart Bridge System,” which includes sensors that constantly track stress. It is monitored by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
On Thursday, August 10, consultant Alyssa Schmeling, a student with a Center for Urban and Regional Affairs program at the University of Minnesota, presented photos and images of ideas that came out of a previous meeting of the Wright Park Planning Committee. Schmeling, who previously has worked in recreation and parks and is currently working on her master’s degree in community development planning, is consulting on Wright Park design ideas as part of a student project, which ends on August 21. The Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership also includes U of M professors Daniel Handeen and Virajita Singh, who have assisted Schmeling and the Wright Park Planning Committee in planning design ideas and plans for future implementation of those ideas.
A 2016 report that looked at ways in which a health system can implement design thinking identified three principles behind the approach: empathy for the user, in this case a patient, doctor or other health care provider; the involvement of an interdisciplinary team; and rapid prototyping of the idea. To develop a truly useful product, a comprehensive understanding of the problem the innovation aims to solve is paramount. “Design thinking is useful for when we need a paradigm shift, for instance when something is fundamentally broken about a service,” said Thomas Fisher, one of the authors of the report and the director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota. “It allows for the creative, multidisciplinary thinking around solving the issue.”
Natural assets – “green infrastructure” – can provide communities with invaluable ecosystem services that clean our air, filter our water, mitigate natural disasters and improve our quality of life.... Our research team has explored one way that communities can cut costs and promote better infrastructure: Let property owners buy and sell credits based on their stormwater runoff. We have also used this approach to encourage a partnership between urban and rural communities. By funding the latter to take some land out of farm/agriculture production, we can protect valuable surface water and animal habitat. (Authors: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota. Madeline Goldkamp is a graduate student of landscape architecture at the U of M.) Also published in MinnPost, August 10, 2017.
The collapse of the 35W bridge on August 1, 2007, provides more than a textbook case of design failure. It's become a powerful teaching tool. That's especially true in Minnesota, where some colleges are using pieces of the salvaged bridge wreckage to reinforce lessons on professional responsibility.... At the University of Minnesota, parts of the collapsed bridge were molded into a basketball-sized chromed ring placed atop an unfinished steel plate. A plaque describes exactly where it all came from: "Steel from the I-35W Mississippi River truss arch bridge, #9340, Minneapolis, MN." School officials had contemplated using the steel for an on-campus memorial but said this made a stronger point. Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering head Joe Labuz said graduates place their hand through it while a stainless steel ring is put on their finger. The Order of the Engineer ceremony reminds them of a solemn duty.
Eric Roper at the Strib writes: Minnesota planners begin to envision driverless future. My fuller response to Eric Roper: Do you think we’re planning enough for the arrival of this technology? It seems like there’s enough unknowns that folks like the Met Council don’t have much to say about how it will affect land use. And I’ve gotten some vague answers from Minneapolis, which is looking into it. (Comments by David Levinson, the lead author of the U report)
Minnesota is beginning to confront what promises to be the biggest shift in urban living since cars arrived in cities a century ago: The moment drivers let go of the wheel for good. Self-driving cars are leaving the realm of science fiction and creeping into discussions about the future of transportation in the Twin Cities. Researchers say the technology could be required in new cars by 2030, leaving its mark on everything from parking ramps and road design to exurban sprawl and mobility for people with disabilities. Frank Douma (Humphrey School of Public Affairs State and Local Policy Program), Tom Fisher (Minnesota Design Center), and David Levinson (Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) comment.
The St. Croix Crossing dedication Wednesday — opening the sleek, nearly-mile-long bridge near Stillwater — comes at the end of a long road, one littered with seeming dead ends and disagreements about fiscal, transportation and environmental policy, as well as the structure’s size and cost.... What might we expect? In general, “the fact that you can have more people moving through a certain area creates a market for new places for people to live or shop or whatever the land-use regulations will allow,” explains Frank Douma, a transportation researcher and director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Minnesota is beginning to confront what promises to be the biggest shift in urban living since cars arrived in cities a century ago: The moment drivers let go of the wheel for good. U researchers say fully autonomous vehicles that can operate without driver interaction may hit the market by 2025. But cars with self-driving features are already on Minnesota roads. Once automation is fully implemented, however, U researchers believe it could dramatically reduce car-related deaths. David Levinson, the lead author of the U report; Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and Minnesota Design Center Director Tom Fisher provided comments.
Beginning this fall, Twin Cities’ transit fares will rise after a plan for the increase was approved Wednesday.... Frank Douma, director of the Humphrey School’s State and Local Policy Program, said since not everyone can drive or afford a car, public transit is needed to give some mobility for everyone in society. Yingling Fan, associate professor with the University's Urban and Regional Planning Area program, said in an email the Met Council’s fare increase won’t help the regional transit system in the long run because price hikes can hurt ridership and affect those with low-income who need it the most.
Local jobs are a major casualty of what analysts are calling, with only a hint of hyperbole, the retail apocalypse. Since 2002, department stores have lost 448,000 jobs, a 25% decline, while the number of store closures this year is on pace to surpass the worst depths of the Great Recession. The growth of online retailers, meanwhile, has failed to offset those losses, with the e-commerce sector adding just 178,000 jobs over the past 15 years.... Southdale set the tone for most malls," says Thomas Fisher, a professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota.
Several car companies, including Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Nissan and General Motors have deployed semiautonomous car technology on the roads. This is the beginning of autonomous – or driverless – cars. Many of those cars are now being tested on closed courses and open roads by companies like Google, Uber and Tesla. Frank Douma, Director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota, says driverless cars are expected to be common by 2030. Many car manufacturers have promised them by 2021. Right now, about 35,000 people die in car accidents in the U.S. each year. Douma says 90 to 95 percent of them are caused by human error.
Fundamental to framing the “right” problem is to start with the problems that need to be solved in the first place. These are those problems that do not lend themselves well to more linear problem-solving methods and are usually those problems that 1) cannot be well defined and/or 2) have persisted over time regardless of attempts to solve it in the past. These are good indicators that the problem is a wicked problem and requires a different frame. One of the keys to becoming more creative and effective at framing problems, is to find ways of making the familiar unfamiliar. To do so, we have outlined several proven design approaches that do not require special skill sets and can be deployed in your day-to-day practices with little to no additional time commitments. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)
Minneapolis-St. Paul is one of only a few metro areas that became more dense, rather than more sprawling, since 2010.... In the last decade, high-rise apartment buildings have changed the face and composition of neighborhoods across the Twin Cities, from Uptown and Dinkytown in Minneapolis to West Seventh in St. Paul. It’s not just demand for these multifamily homes, a national trend, that’s driving density in the Twin Cities. Policies here have also favored denser development, said Ed Goetz, director for the center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul are consciously working to grow their populations after losing residents for decades since the mid-20th century, he said. (Story also published in Twin Cities Business, July 13, 2017)
The Shared-Use Mobility Center, a nonprofit that promotes “shared mobility” services, introduced an action plan to Minneapolis City Council Tuesday to lay out its goals and plans for the future of Twin Cities ride sharing.... Local advocates and University of Minnesota researchers expect positive changes to flow from added shared mobility. Frank Douma, director of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ State and Local Policy Program and a research scholar at the Center for Transportation Studies, said new ride sharing services might challenge status quo options, like taxi services and city-owned metered parking spaces, which car sharing services would reserve.... Saif Benjaafar, director of the University’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy, said in an email the relatively low costs of cars in the U.S., taxes on them and their fuel have led to their prevalence. However, Benjaafar said evidence shows consumers are willing to share rides with strangers given the right incentives and safeguards.
The X Games are the first in a series of mega-events for U.S. Bank Stadium that include the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018, followed by the Final Four in 2019. This year, both ABC and ESPN will broadcast more than 18 hours from the X Games.... Minneapolis drivers will need to show some agility of their own during the games with a number of street closings near the stadium Thursday through Sunday.... Researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota, said drivers should use wayfinding apps and consider going to a “happy place” by using a safe driving distraction such as an audiobook.
Yingling Fan is Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and the Director of the Global Transit Innovations program at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on developing novel land use and transportation solutions to improve human health and social equity. Her interdisciplinary work has appeared in many leading academic journal across multiple fields.
A wrenching debate is playing out among state officials trying to stretch limited transportation money to fix or replace as much roadway as possible. In Minnesota and in many other states, transportation funding has lagged as road conditions have deteriorated.... Asphalt is a feasible and economical solution, even if it means going back and doing the work sooner than if new concrete were put down, said Adeel Lari, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a former senior manager at MnDOT. “You can build with concrete to last a very long time, but it is very expensive,” Lari said. “You have only so much money. It’s like our personal budget. You can buy a new car, or fix the one you have and have it last another three years. Those are the kinds of decisions MnDOT is making.”
Missourians in Kansas City spend less time in traffic than their friends in Detroit, but the 18 hours could be avoided with some forward thinking public transportation ideas. A 2014 study from the University of Minnesota found that Kansas City was the tenth worst municipality reviewed in the analysis of accessibility to public transit. Professors David Levinson and Andrew Owen used public transportation schedules and pedestrian access to the workplace to determine the level of accessibility per city.
Some intersections are riskier to cross than others, but looking at the number of pedestrian injuries alone doesn’t tell the whole story. A new RSI-funded study combines crash data with pedestrian counts to deliver a more nuanced picture of traffic dangers for people on foot.
Late Monday night, several parallel white-striped crosswalks across the University of Minnesota campus area switched to the more visible zebra pattern. The change is part of Minneapolis’ plan to convert most existing crosswalks into thick, rectangular lines, otherwise known as zebra crosswalks.... Ron Van Houten, a researcher with the U of M Roadway Safety Institute and a professor of psychology at Western Michigan University, said some research shows zebra crosswalks can reduce crashes by 40 percent.... Greg Lindsey, also an RSI researcher and professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who teaches urban and regional planning, said a city doesn’t arbitrarily switch to a new striping system without deliberate planning.
Congestion on metro area freeways has reached record levels, and a Twin Cities think tank says bad public policy and not regional growth is to blame. In a report called "Twin Cities Traffic Congestion: It's No Accident," author Randal O'Toole squarely points the finger at the Met Council and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, claiming the agencies have shifted their priority away from congestion mitigation to encouraging commuters to use public transportation and other alternatives to driving.... "It's much more complicated," said Yingling Fan, a researcher with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. "Congestion is not just related to traffic lanes. People need to consider other dimensions when looking at transportation problems."
A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant issued last week will fund an initiative that could help small-time farmers, rural grocery stores and wholesale food distributors simultaneously, simply by making the delivery system more efficient. The method, called "backhauling," will be tested with garlic in Big Stone County in far western Minnesota. ... The benefit for rural grocery stores is they would be connected with local producers, and could be paid for acting as a dock for farm-grown produce. University Applied Economics professor Hikaru Peterson will be co-leading the study with Kathryn Draeger, statewide director of Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.
The University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies has developed an app that will pair directly with technology in construction zones. Researcher Chen-Fu Liao calls it "a Bluetooth beacon." Workers can send messages to drivers as they approach construction zones. The idea is not to look down at the app or the phone but to have it speak to drivers. ... The U of M's Human First Lab tested the app for driver distractions. Researcher Nichole Morris tracked and analyzed the eye movements and responses of 100 different drivers as they navigated several simulated construction zones.
Nearly a quarter of adults in Minnesota ride their bikes at least once a week, and that number is even higher for those under 18. Seven in 10 walk daily in their community. Advocates are asking lawmakers to keep that in mind as they debate the active transportation bill. Increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle trails in the state has stalled for the past three years and Dorian Grilley of Bicycle Alliance Minnesota says a University of Minnesota study funded by the Department of Transportation found bicycle commuting in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area alone prevents 12 to 61 deaths per year because of the increased health benefits riders get.
Truck drivers are everywhere on our highways, undergirding the American economy, but most of us know little about their work and personal lives beyond musty stereotypes from the days of CB radio. Most truckers were quick to disabuse me of any notion that life on the open road holds romantic allure. ... A couple of truckers who are now college professors were helpful to me. Stephen V. Burks, an economist at the University of Minnesota at Morris, calculated that his pay as a union driver in 1979 would be the equivalent of $101,600 today. Since that era, trucking has been deregulated, and the Teamsters union has all but disappeared from the Interstates. As a result, truckers earn less than half of what they once did.
As the school year comes to a close, so too does a major project in Brooklyn Park that will shape the city's future. The nine month collaboration between the city and the University of Minnesota is called the 'Resilient Communities Project.' Nearly 300 students completed work on two dozen projects, and the students' findings will be used to implement city policies for years to come.
University of Minnesota grad student Jargalmaa Erdenemandakh put her public policy major to work in Brooklyn Park this semester. For months, she’s been researching how Minnesota’s sixth-largest city can assess its rebranding efforts. Her findings are part of the U’s Resilient Communities Project, which connects students with communities chosen each academic year through an application process. Students complete projects across a broad array of topics and turn their findings over to city leaders, who can use them to guide policy and urban planning. Students in dozens of university courses tackled income disparities, transit issues, obstacles to healthy food, police diversity and nature-based play options at parks, among other topics.
The day after a section of an Interstate 85 bridge in Atlanta collapsed, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority saw a 21 percent increase in ridership. Nearly a month later, the growth in new riders is slowing down. ... Michael Iacano worked with his colleagues at the University of Minnesota at the time to study the impact of the collapse using two years’ worth of data from Metro Transit, the largest public transit agency in the area. Four months after the bridge collapse, the agency saw a 6.6 percent increase in monthly ridership system-wide. “We think the bridge collapse led some people to temporarily switch modes to public transit, especially for the ones that worked in downtown," Iacono said. “There was this offsetting effect as Metro Transit decided to ramp up service in response. They started providing additional frequency on existing routes, and providing additional temporary park and ride capacity on some outlying locations.
Those familiar thick carpets of blue salt crystals could soon be a thing of winters past on Minnesota roads. Instead, expect to see more brine. Liquid anti-icing agents, like salt brine, are the current stars of the winter maintenance world, while granular anti-icing agents -- like sand and rock salt -- get used more sparingly and for specific purposes, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, academic researchers and environmental consultants. ... Lawrence Baker, a research professor in bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota, said even if we significantly reduce our salt use now, it might be decades before we see overall decreases in groundwater contamination. The best medicine, according to Baker, is prevention – keeping the chloride from getting into the environment in the first place.
The city of Ramsey will partner with University of Minnesota students as it updates its long-term plans on issues including community development, water conservation, community engagement and more. Now in its fifth year, the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project, through a competitive process, chooses one community each school year to give university students and a chance to work on a multitude of projects. And it gives the city some extra input as it explores some big topics.
We often identify as Minnesotans or Midwesterners, citizens of the Twin Cities metro area, or simply our various hometowns. But did you know you're also a resident of Laurentide? This is just one of the unofficial designations that researchers, regional planners and other experts have for the Twin Cities and its surrounding areas as they redraw the United States to better reflect how cities currently connect with each other and will do so in the future.... Tom Fisher and David Levinson comment.
In Washington, one of freshman Rep. Jason Lewis’ first legislative moves was to introduce a bill that he claims will limit the power and scope of the Met Council, the Twin Cities metro area planning organization. Lewis’ bill would overturn an obscure, 11th-hour rule from Barack Obama’s administration regarding metropolitan planning organizations, or MPOs, of which the Met Council is one of about 400 around the U.S... Frank Douma, an urban planning expert at the University of Minnesota, said that the bottom line is that the DoT rule “would not have an impact on the way that planning is done in the Twin Cities.”
Richard P. Braun, 91, a longtime public servant who was commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation from 1979 to 1986, died this week.... In 1986, Braun stepped down as MnDOT commissioner to lead what is now the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
As construction ramps up along I-94 in Minneapolis, a team of University of Minnesota researchers is urging caution. Minnesota Traffic Observatory research shows a particular stretch of I-94, roughly from the 35W/I-94 merge to just past Portland Avenue, has the highest crash rate in the metro area with more than 150 crashes per year. That amounts to about one crash every two days. Which makes it even more important for drivers in that area to remain focused on the road. "People are not perfect drivers. Even the people who claim to be perfect drivers are not perfect drivers," MTO director John Hourdos said.
Tourism specialist and extension educator Xinyi Qian spoke to John Hines live on WCCO-AM radio about a recent state report on the economic benefits of commuting by bike.
In 1987, a new research center opened at the University of Minnesota that would begin a decades-long mission to catalyze innovation in all facets of transportation, from traffic flow and safety to pavements and bridges. This year, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) celebrates its 30th anniversary, capping three decades of developing new tools to help agencies across the US improve transportation systems and provide objective data to inform elected officials on matters of transportation policy.
A new report pegs the economic impact of cycling in Minnesota at $780 million annually. The study finds more than 13-percent of Minnesotans commute by bike, at least once in a while. The state Department of Transportation commissioned the study, which also found about 5,500 jobs tied to the biking industry. The Star Tribune reports Minneapolis leads the nation in the concentration of bike lanes and paths, with near six per square mile. Researchers at the University of Minnesota surveyed bikers and businesses and used public health data and computer modeling to compile the report.
Biking isn’t just a fun way to get around Lake Calhoun or a cheap way to get to work—it’s also an economic and health boon to the state. That’s according to the findings from a report by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, which said that Minnesota’s bike industry contributed $780 million in economic output in 2014. It also helped support 5,500 jobs and over $200 million in labor-related income.
For many Minnesotans cycling is nothing more than a Sunday frolic, but a new report finds that the state’s bike industry produces $780 million in annual economic activity, 5,519 jobs and millions of dollars in health care savings because of reduced obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And get this: Fully 13.6 percent of Twin Cities residents commute by bike, at least once in a while.Those are the results of the first major investigation into the health and economic effects of the state’s bicycling industry, commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to help measure the financial return on taxpayers’ investment in biking infrastructure. The study was compiled by researchers at the University of Minnesota through surveys of bikers and businesses, crunching public health data, and computer modeling.
A measure introduced at the Legislature would exempt car-sharing firms like Car2Go from paying motor vehicle rental taxes and fees in Minnesota. If the bill passes, its supporters hope Car2Go would come back to the Twin Cities or its competitors would enter the market.... Car2Go pared back its Twin Cities geographic service area in 2015, saying it preferred to concentrate on places that resulted in the most use. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, said the Twin Cities are “density challenged." Douma said this phenomenon will change when self-driving cars become more ubiquitous.
In September, Lyft CEO John Zimmer declared the world to be on the cusp of the "third transportation revolution," when self-driving cars push us one step closer to "Star Trek" utopianism.... In the Twin Cities, there are scattered efforts to engage with the technology, and University of Minnesota research and researchers are in the thick of them. Frank Douma, with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Tom Fisher, the director of the Metropolitan Design Center, are cited along with buses and snowplows outfitted with advanced driver assist systems.
Minneapolis Tree Advisory Committee has called for the city to plant about 25,000 new trees each year. That sounds like a lot, but New York City planted 1 million trees in eight years, over five times the rate in the Minneapolis recommendation.... Imagine Minneapolis a couple of decades from now, with a green canopy covering almost half of the city and an evergreen forest along our highways. We would have cleaner air and water, cooler summers, less windy winters, higher land values, and a healthier population.
Last month, the University of Minnesota’s annual State of Research report highlighted a research enterprise that continues to grow, driven by greater diversification of funding sources and enhanced public-private partnership. The report, produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research, also highlighted several ongoing research projects that are advancing knowledge across a wide variety of fields. These efforts are shedding light on youth brain function, boosting computing technology, exploring new mining processes and improving transportation systems. ... The Accessibility Observatory, a program of the Center for Transportation Studies and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering within CSE, received a five-year, $1.6 million award to collect and map data on city residents’ access to jobs by car, public transit, bicycle and walking.
LA Metro, the Los Angeles rail and bus transit system, is the third most comprehensive system in the entire USA, according to a study by the University of Minnesota. Local online magazine LAist describes it as technically the “best accessible” transit system in the country, while the city's integrated bus system is “robust” and “incredibly extensive."
Whether it's winter or summer, it's clear to see bicycling is popular in Minnesota. Now, there are numbers to show just how beneficial the activity is to our state thanks to a new study conducted by the University of Minnesota, and funded by MnDOT. MnDOT tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this study is the first of its kind. Officials at MnDOT say Minnesota is one of the most bike friendly states in the country, but now there are numbers to back it up.
How well does your city’s transit system connect people to jobs? A new report from the University of Minnesota lays out how many jobs are accessible via transit in major American cities. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and D.C. offer the best transit access to jobs, the authors concluded. In addition, Seattle and Denver are two regions that punch above their weight, according to co-author David Levinson, a University of Minnesota civil engineering professor.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota-Duluth may have the answer to our pothole problem. "I think everybody recognizes that road deterioration and potholes are a real problem. It's a huge cost to consumers and to motorists on an annual basis just for damage to their vehicles," said Larry Zanko with UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). Zanko, principal investigator, is part of a team fine-tuning two new ways for pavement patching and repair--both taconite-related. Zanko believes both technologies, 10 years in the making, are promising and provide a quicker and more permanent fix, leading to a more cost-effective solution.
According to the Met Council's 2015 Regional Park-and-Ride System Report, there were 19,340 vehicles in the lots when the annual survey was taken in late September and early October 2015. The annual survey tracks facility use to identify emerging travel patterns by park-and-ride users across the Twin Cities region. It also is used by planners to determine where to put new facilities and update service. And that's where another study conducted by University of Minnesota Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering Prof. Alireza Khani could come in useful. While much has been written as to why commuters use park-and-rides, Khani wanted to know what factors influence where they decide to park. Knowing those answers may come in handy when future decisions are made on which park and rides to keep, where to build new ones and where to expand transit service and amenities to maximize ridership.
On too many days, Metro serves up an ample dose of frustration, with breakdowns and repair work snarling travel, but the subway and bus network ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to connecting the dots between home and work. That’s according to the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, which has ranked 49 of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. for the ability to get workers to their jobs via transit.
New research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The new rankings, part of the Access Across America study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.
Growing traffic on U.S. roadways and heavy construction machinery in road work zones pose a critical safety threat to construction workers. At the University of Minnesota, Duluth, researchers are taking a new approach to preventing work-zone accidents by bringing situational awareness to the operators of construction vehicles.
TaskRabbit was founded in 2008 with a big idea. On the company's website and app, people make money by assembling strangers’ Ikea furniture or cleaning their bathrooms.... Saif Benjaafar, who runs the Sharing Economy Initiative, a research project at the University of Minnesota, credits TaskRabbit with helping create a movement.
To help prospective college students winnow their school choices, WalletHub’s analysts compared 415 U.S. cities of varying sizes based on 26 key indicators of academic, social and economic opportunities for students. Our data set ranges from “cost of living” to “quality of higher education” to “crime rate.” University of Minnesota professors John Adams and Andrew Furco are interviewed.
Dodging potholes is a rite of winter and spring for Minnesota motorists, but a research team in Duluth is attacking the annoying roadway craters head-on. Experts from the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute are advancing research on a pair of technologies that, in their view, will put maintenance crews a step or two closer to the “ideal repair” for potholes. Compared with traditional hot-mix asphalt repairs, the technologies lead to cheaper, quicker and more permanent fixes, said Lawrence Zanko, a senior research fellow who is heading up the team.
Dangerous collisions between cars and bikes could be a thing of the past with the help of a University of Minnesota student. At a conference hosted by the University’s Center for Transportation Studies earlier this month, a professor and graduate student presented a system to detect cars in a bicyclist’s blind spot. Mechanical engineering student Woongsun Jeon and Professor Rajesh Rajamani created a method that places sensors on the side and back of a bicycle. The devices alert a cyclist when a car is approaching their side, but they haven’t yet perfected the technology to detect vehicles at intersections.
The first snowfall of the season means adjusting our driving behavior to deal with cold, snow, and ice. HumanFIRST Lab principal researcher Nichole Morris provides tips and insight into safely driving in winter weather.
Researchers in Australia and the United States are now testing what kind of feedback will make young drivers slow down. Statistics show young drivers die at twice the rate of other drivers.... In an American study, newly-licensed teenage drivers were more likely to stop speeding when their parents received text messages dobbing them in for breaking the limit. Road safety expert Max Donath, who visited Australia last month, said most parents trusted their teenagers "much more than they should".
Donald Trump loves the idea of infrastructure. He brings it up all the time. He wants to make an infrastructure bill a priority in his first 100 days as president.... David Levinson, a transportation analyst and professor at the University of Minnesota, brings up a number of other concerns about a plan to set up PPPs that don’t rely so heavily on tolls. PPPs are complicated multi-decade financial arrangements, and not all states and localities are necessarily well-equipped to manage these deals in the public interest.
In June, more than 40 White Earth Nation (Minnesota) students were introduced to a variety of transportation topics in a daylong session offered by the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI).... The Roadway Safety Institute also sponsored a day focused on safety at the second annual National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) hosted by the Center for Transportation Studies in July on the University of Minnesota campus.
University of Minnesota experts are touting automated speed enforcement cameras as an effective way to curb speeding drivers — a top cause of driving fatalities in the state. But some say the cameras could face similar pushback to red light cameras which were deemed a violation to state law nine years ago. Nichole Morris, University research associate at the Center for Transportation Studies, said allowing speed cameras should be a “no-brainer” for state legislation. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the enforcement devices have had success reducing speeds and the amount of crashes in other states.
A new pilot program at the University of Minnesota focuses on working with partners outside the U to create new knowledge and put it into play benefiting the community. In one of three pilot projects, University researcher Diwakar Gupta is working with Metro Transit experts Scott Cady and Christine Kuennen to develop new scientific methods for optimizing its bus and light-rail operations.
Earlier this year, new rules overseeing taxicabs and ride-sharing firms, including UberX and Lyft, were proposed for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Few could have predicted what a wrenching, regulatory journey it would prove to be. Proposed ordinances were retooled along the way, and the most recent version will be voted on by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) on Monday. If approved, the new regulations will take effect Jan. 1. Airport passengers using smartphone-enabled apps will likely find it easier to hail UberX and Lyft rides should the new rules be adopted.... "When you try to regulate Uber and Lyft at airports, people will find ways around [the rules]," said Yash Babar, a University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management doctoral student who studies ride-sharing. "These laws are very difficult to impose."
State and federal transportation officials, business owners and developers are exploring the notion of “capping” several sections of freeways with wide swaths of land. The idea has been floated around the Twin Cities area from St. Paul to north Minneapolis to Edina. Some view it as a way to add developable space in built-out areas. Others see public health benefits in controlling air and noise pollution.... “We’ve seen, in the last couple of years, a complete shift in thinking about this, from ‘Oh, this is kind of a wacky idea,’ to ‘No, this solves many problems and it should happen,’ ” said Thomas Fisher, director of the University of Minnesota’s Metropolitan Design Center.
The number of pedestrians killed on state roads this year is already at 37 — up from 23 at this time last year. Plus, October, the most dangerous month for pedestrians, is just getting started. This year in St. Paul alone, there have been 117 crashes involving vehicles and pedestrians through Sept. 23, resulting in 91 injuries and three deaths. Those numbers are why St. Paul police and neighborhood groups and organizations such as MnDOT have teamed up to hold 53 crosswalk campaigns throughout the city over the past year with the goal of changing driver behavior.... Authorities consulted the U of M-based Roadway Safety Institute in planning their pedestrian safety campaign.
The rise of online rentals in Rochester, Minnesota, has jumpstarted a policy debate that's playing out in much bigger cities: how to balance the interests of existing, regulated businesses against those operating in the unregulated sharing economy. Big debates around car-sharing services, like Uber, continue to play out in city council meetings.... University of Minnesota design expert Tom Fisher says getting this question right is crucial to realizing the Destination Medical Center vision. Millennials make up roughly 40 percent of the workforce.
A team of researchers has concluded that for every three gallons of corn ethanol that’s being burned under America’s flagship renewable fuel rules, Americans will avoid burning just one gallon of gasoline made from crude. Their findings add to evidence that the mandated use of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which was approved by Congress and is overseen by the EPA, is making the problem of global warming worse — while doing little to ease fuel imports. The researchers, from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, focused their analysis on the “fuel rebound effect.” That’s economist jargon describing an unintended market consequence of rules requiring America’s gasoline industry to blend biofuels into its products. U of M researcher Jason Hill comments.
Most assessments measuring congestion focus on the number of extra hours individual motorists spend stuck in traffic each year. But a new study from University of Minnesota researchers takes a different approach. The “Access Across America: Auto 2015” study looks at how congestion collectively impacts the ability of people to get to and from jobs. In other words, it looks at how many jobs drivers can get to in a specified amount of time and how many they can’t. AO director Andrew Owen is interviewed.
Our decisions about transportation determine much more than where roads or bridges or tunnels or rail lines will be built. They determine the connections and barriers that people will encounter in their daily lives — and thus how hard or easy it will be for people to get where they need and want to go.... according to a study released by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, a typical resident of the Baltimore-Towson region can reach fewer than 138,000 of our region's 1.2 million jobs in under an hour using public transportation.
Many area farmers are entering the busy harvest season but before cutting down all their crops, MnDOT is looking for farmers to take part in their standing corn rows program. In the winter months, snow might be nice to look at... but for drivers, it's a nuisance they'd rather avoid. That has MnDOT and the University of Minnesota Extension working with landowners to keep the roads clear, especially in some 3,700 problem sites on state highways.... University of Minnesota Extension Educator Gary Wyatt said, "Certainly a golden opportunity for farmers to look at this opportunity, with MnDOT's compensation as well and they could put together a really nice package for 15 years and have a living snow fence protect that highway."
While still in their infancy, two University of Minnesota start-ups will travel to Congress on Tuesday as part of a University event that helps nascent companies secure investment. The two companies, Minnepura and Innotronics, were funded with help from the University’s Venture Center..... Innotronics—launched last year—and aims to market remote sensors for industrial and agricultural equipment. The three-member team first researched sensors for cars that could detect and prevent imminent crashes, said Innotronics Chief Scientific Officer Rajesh Rajamani.
New research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota estimates the impact of traffic congestion on access to jobs for the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States. The new rankings are part of the Access Across America study, which began in 2013. The rankings focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.
When it comes to earthquakes and other natural disasters, designing structures to be resilient against environmental forces can help limit the resulting damage. Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing (MAST) Lab can test how structures and building components hold up against the strain of enormous natural forces, from simulated earthquakes to tornadoes to soil pressure. The lab, originally supported for 15 years by grants through the National Science Foundation, is part of the College of Science and Engineering’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering. U of M professor of civil engineering Arturo Schultz, director of the MAST Lab, comments.
As Americans drive more miles than ever before, express lanes are facing a challenge: they are too popular. So many drivers of all kinds are using the lanes that it is increasingly difficult for transportation officials to keep them speedy.... As tolls have climbed around the country, researchers have noticed an interesting phenomenon: Rather than deterring drivers, as they are supposed to, higher prices tend to attract them. David Levinson, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said that when express tolls rise, many drivers take it as a sign that regular lanes are congested, rather than realizing that it means that the express lanes are especially crowded.
Last week the Metropolitan Council adopted a plan to issue $103.5 million in “certificates of participation” (COPs) to help pay for the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail project. Because state lawmakers failed to fund their anticipated share of the project, the Met Council was left scrambling for cash. The project faced imminent shutdown—and with $140 million already spent on it.... Jerry Zhao, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, called them “a special kind of revenue bond, with a fuzzy guarantee,” and noted that many state and municipal governments pressed for cash use them because they’re flexible. In some cases, public hearings are not necessary.
Maps and an abundance of other current data and advice for transit and workforce development are part of an impressive report that was released toward the end of the regular session by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. A distinguished U of M associate professor in transportation policy, Yingling Fan, is the lead author. The report — Linking the Unemployed to Jobs: Integrated Transit Planning and Workforce Development — provides a strong foundation of support for two fairly straightforward propositions.
Minnesota’s Smart Lanes is the brand name of the active traffic management (ATM) system implemented on I-35W and I-94, the two busiest freeways in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The centerpiece of this system, and a novel idea at the time of its installation since no other U.S. city has anything similar, is the implementation of Intelligent Lane Control Signs (ILCS). Minnesota Traffic Observatory director John Hourdos explains.
Research shows left-turning vehicles are more likely to be involved in a collision, because the vehicle must cross in front of oncoming traffic.... Experts say that while there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the hazards, such as better road design and alert drivers, turning left is just inherently more risky. "They are the most dangerous because they are direct conflicts between different movements," said John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory and an adjunct assistant civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
While he's long been interested in the tangible, physical world around us, University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center director Tom Fisher has a new book of essays about "the design of what we cannot see."
In theU.S. overall, there aren’t enough jobs to go around. But that’s not the case in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where one job opening exists for each unemployed person, according to a 2015 report. The problem, however, is that while these vacancies are clustered in the suburbs, the people who could potentially fill them live in the urban centers. As with many other U.S. metros, prospective workers in the Twin Cities remain disconnected from job-rich areas. A group of researchers at the University of Minnesota, led by Yingling Fan, associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, took a deep dive into this spatial mismatch in a new report. Using GIS mapping, they visualized the potential effect of recently proposed transit expansions in the region.
Many qualified job-seekers in the metro area remain unemployed because they can’t find transportation to work, a new study found. The study, published by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies and released to the public late last month, found urban workers are often qualified for entry-level jobs but have no way of reaching those jobs in the suburbs. Additionally, the study found that urban workers often lack qualifications for jobs close to them — creating what the researchers have coined a “spatial and skill mismatch.” “So our research is looking to lay out an approach to reconcile those mismatches by coordinating transit planning, job training and job placement services,” said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and one of three co-researchers who authored the study.
A recent University of Minnesota study found a “serious disconnect” between unemployed workers and job vacancies in the seven-county Twin Cities area. The culprit? The lack of a dependable car, for one, but also the need for a public transportation system that’s reliable and convenient. As a result, disadvantaged workers who live in urban areas often have no way to reach employment centers in suburbia, the study concludes. And employers hungry for qualified workers can’t seem to attract and keep them. Andrew Guthrie commented.
The absolute best way to reduce cut-through traffic is to transform your neighborhood into a grid. Cut-through traffic “is particularly a problem in areas that try to concentrate traffic onto a few major roads, but leave only a few other routes besides main arterials connected,” says David Levinson, a civil engineer with the University of Minnesota. Streets arranged as connected grids, on the other hand, “tend to distribute traffic more evenly.”
A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory shows that drivers are heeding the messages displayed on the high-tech warning signs designed to get them to switch lanes before they reach the point where there is a stall, crash or hazard impeding traffic. But when it comes to mitigating congestion, well, that’s another story.... The signs had the intended effect on driver behavior, meaning vehicles vacated the lanes far enough in advance to minimize traffic disruption, said study coordinator John Hourdos.
Connecting unfilled Twin Cities jobs with workers is a matter of distance, and University of Minnesota researchers Andy Guthrie and Ying Fan say they might have a solution.
According to a new University of Minnesota study, the mismatch between unemployed workers and job vacancies is a serious problem in the Twin Cities region and it appears to have worsened since the turn of the millennium. The biggest concentrations of unemployed workers lack fast or frequent transit service to some of the richest concentrations of job vacancies, particularly vacancies in the south and southwest metro.
The $27 million A Line opened June 11 amid much fanfare among transit and elected officials. ... University of Minnesota Prof. David Levinson recently released an accessibility evaluation of the A Line, part of a broader, federally funded project.
Getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage in American culture. But this exciting coming-of-age has instead become a death sentence for thousands of teens each year. Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 16 and 19, which also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes. Nichole Morris, principal researcher in the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the Roadway Safety Institute, and research scholar with the Center for Transportation Studies at University of Minnesota, offers expert insights.
In Minnesota, the incidents of traffic deaths among the American Indian (AI) population is 2.5 times higher than the general population and a recent tribal road safety summit in the state highlighted the need for accurate geographical data on accident types and locations. Many incidents occur on dirt roads that are well below normal US standards of construction and maintenance. Professor Kathy Quick, of the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota, says “much existing research is at the level of the AI population in the US as a whole. That does not give us a very good picture of what is happening in particular locations.”
Potholes are a world-wide problem. This article highlights new research, including a project out of the University of Minnesota Duluth, that aims to make pothole patching more effective and long-lasting. Led by Larry Zanko, the research team developed an experimental repair vehicle that uses microwaves and taconite to heat up the patch and improve adhesion. More information: Microwaves and taconite improve pothole repair, CTS Catalyst, July 2013
Nichole Morris, a researcher at the HumanFirst Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has startling statistics that should keep parents awake. Morris says the most hazardous years of life for children are between 16 and 17 -- not because of suicide, cancer or other accidents; the cause is driving. Morris acknowledges cars and roads have become safer. The trouble is young drivers make fatal mistakes that should never happen.
Professor David Levinson, University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies and Department of Civil Engineering, discusses the future of Hyperloop as it completes its first test.
University of Minnesota researchers are working to create an algorithm to solve scheduling issues for public transit. A study found that dispatchers manually assign driving jobs to workers on a daily basis, and when bus drivers call in sick or have some sort of emergency, dispatchers must quickly assign jobs to reserve drivers or overtime bus drivers. Project lead researcher and industrial and systems engineering professor Diwakar Gupta, along with other University researchers, designed and tested an algorithm for online interval scheduling that eliminated bias in scheduling and allowed reserve drivers to be assigned to shifts, which could lower costs because overtime drivers are more expensive.
With advancing technology and widely available car-sharing services, getting around without your own car is becoming a reality for big-city dwellers. The need for personal vehicles is dwindling with the rise of self-driving cars and sharing services — such as zipcar, Hourcar and car2go — according to a University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies report published this month. ... Car-sharing service users pay per trip, eschewing usual expenses like monthly loans or maintenance, said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor and the study’s principal investigator.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is in the middle of an open call for state and local agencies to submit data that it will use to put together a national transit map. ... Many transit agencies have begun to publish their route and schedule data online in a standard, machine-readable format. By combining this data into a National Transit Map, we will be able to better understand and illustrate the role of transit in America, understand where gaps in service exist and help connect more Americans to opportunity. There are many great examples of work that has been done in this space — the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, the recent collaboration between Transit Center and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Mapzen’s Transit Land, and so many more.
This spring, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is ramping up its "living snow fence" program, just as farmers begin planting their fields across the state. The program aims to create safer road conditions by paying farmers to leave corn rows, hay bales or silage bags along the side of state-maintained roads to break blowing snow. The program has been around for a number of years, but it really gained steam after the terrible 1996-97 winter (remember that one?). "At that point, we began to ask, 'What can we do to make things better, and reach more people?' " said Dan Gullickson, coordinator of the living snow fence program.
Could you save by dumping one vehicle? Over the past half-dozen years, new car- and ride-sharing services have revolutionized the way people get around, creating a new set of alternatives. ... If you doubled up only a few times a week, you’re a strong candidate for downsizing, says David Levinson, a civil engineering professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the amount of snow that blows across a road can be 100 times more snow than what's falling from the sky. In 2013, researchers from the University of Minnesota and MnDOT set out to find a new way, a cost-effective way, to keep some of that snow off the roads. It turns out the answer may be as simple as shrub willows. That's right, shrub willows.
The car-sharing service car2go has scaled back its presence in the Twin Cities to concentrate its cars in more high-demand areas. The company downsized its 107 square mile service area — which was the company’s largest service area — to 50 square miles last week. The University of Minnesota area is included in the company’s smaller footprint. ... “[C]ar2go is different than your conventional car rental company because, usually, car rental is done by the day, while car-sharing allows people to rent their car by the hour,” said Frank Douma, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs director of state and local policy program.
Truck drivers with sleep apnea who don't regularly follow their treatment program are much more likely to crash, a new study finds. "The most surprising result of our study is the strength and robustness of the increase in the crash risk for drivers with sleep apnea who fail to adhere to mandated treatment with positive airway pressure therapy [CPAP]," said study author Stephen Burks. He's principal investigator of the Truckers & Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota.
While many experts says that too much involvement in your teenager's life can be counterproductive, statistics show that advice doesn't apply to driving. NBC's Tom Costello reports for TODAY from a driver's ed program in Potomac, Maryland. University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris was interviewed for the story.
In the labyrinth of bus routes, rail lines and commuter arteries that make up a city map, identifying areas that lack sufficient services can be difficult. But a new U.S. Transportation Department initiative would help pinpoint these “transit deserts.” Then, planners say, urban and suburban pockets with substandard train and bus service — or those lacking any transit — could be better connected to a city’s grid. “ ‘Transit desert’ is a very simple way of saying, ‘Let’s look at where and how much service we provide versus what the potential [is],’ ” said Andrew Owen, director of the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory.
Among the people who know what they are talking about, the unanimous message to parents is: You’re not worried nearly enough. Get much more involved. Your child’s life may be in danger. What’s the topic? Teenage driving. “If you’re going to have an early, untimely death,” said Nichole Morris, a principal researcher at the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, “the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving.”
In recent years, the economy is shared around the world quietly. Credit Suisse believes that the global economic share in the profits generated from the rise in 2013 of $15 billion in 2025 to $335 billion. As an economic model, share ideas through the adjustment of economic resources to achieve social stock of products and services to maximize use, which continues to stimulate economic growth through new investment in traditional practices brought new ideas. Some analysts believe that sharing economy will gradually enter the fast lane. However, sharing a healthy economy, still need to constantly improve the supervision and management mechanism. ... Singapore University of Technology and Design share economic research organization members, University of Minnesota professor Saif Benjaafar in the interview with this reporter, said that the economic share in the emerging economies has great potential for development, it allows more people to enjoy resources and resources exclusive to bypass the traditional ownership model. (via Google Translate)
The Minneapolis School District's decision to have high school students use public transportation to get to class instead of riding yellow school buses is paying off with better attendance and better grades according to a new study by University of Minnesota researchers. And in a surprising finding, it's also helped their social well being, according to the study of the Student Pass program published in the February edition of Catalyst, a monthly newsletter published by the university's Center for Transportation Studies. Researchers found that absenteeism dropped 23 percent during the 2014-2015 school year according to data collected through surveys of more than 2,000 students and 500 parents. "It's not surprising, that if you miss the yellow school bus you really have no other way to get to school, meaning you miss half the day or the entire day," said Yingling Fan, associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the principal investigator. "With transit, you can always catch the next bus."
In 2013, six Minneapolis public high schools participated in Metro Transit’s student Go-To Card program, which gave students free or discounted passes for unlimited rides for that school year. The following year, the University’s Center for Transportation Studies analyzed how these passes impacted students and Metro Transit, releasing its findings in last month’s edition of CTS Catalyst. Researchers Yingling Fan and Kirti Das provide comments.
MnDOT District 7 is piloting a snowplow driver assist system to combat the blowing snow and fog that often cause zero visibility. The DAS helps snowplow operators see road alignments and features, such as turn lanes, guardrails, and road markings. Even in less extreme winter weather, snowplow operators gain assurance of their lane location using the system. ... The DAS system was designed by the U of M Intelligent Vehicles Lab and deployed by licensee, MTS Systems.
Stearns County is a microcosm of the growing chasm between Minnesotans' demands for a modern, safe, efficient network of roads, bridges and transit, and the available dollars to pay for it. ... But those funding sources haven’t been keeping pace, and drivers now pay about half the amount of tax per vehicle mile traveled as they did in the 1960s, according to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies.
Metro Transit is testing its first rapid transit bus line on an urban street. The new A Line is designed to attract more riders by cutting travel time and improving bus service. ... The new bus line plays a different role than light rail or even highway-based bus rapid transit, said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The rapid transit lines "are very much about setting a higher standard of quality for local service."
Bus Rapid Transit lines can generate economic development, attract high-paying jobs, and increase property values, according to a study released last month by the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. The report, which aims to answer questions about economic development near BRT lines by comparing systems around the country, veers into new research territory. “Until very recently, there just hasn’t been much opportunity to do research on BRT in a North American context because there hasn’t been much BRT here,” said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who studies transit systems. Another recent study by Guthrie and co-author Yingling Fan for the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota took a more focused look at economic development and job opportunities for the half-dozen BRT lines currently being planned in the Twin Cities. This story also appeared in Politics in Minnesota Capitol Report (02/05/2016)
Waiting at a bus stop or a subway station, it can feel like the minutes stretch on forever, forever, forever, foooooooorever, for-ev-er before the train or bus finally (finally!) arrives. This isn’t because your local transit agency is conspiring to make your life miserable. Your brain perceives the minutes spent waiting as longer than they actually are. Studies of transit riders’ perception of time have found that people unconsciously multiple their wait times by a factor of 1.2 to 2.5. “People actually consider waiting at the bus stop for buses as among the most unhappy moments of their life,” says Yingling Fan, an University of Minnesota associate professor who specializes in planning and policy.
Metro Transit, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and a half-dozen other partners this week will submit an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, a competition to bring home $50 million to improve transit and transportation. ... Besides the cities and Metro Transit, other local partners include the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the University of Minnesota, Nice Ride, Transit for Livable Communities, the McKnight Foundation and the Shared Mobility Center.
In December 2014, a study was released that claimed that electric cars actually produced “3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than those powered by gas.” Study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, says: “It is kind of hard to beat gasoline. … A lot of technologies that we think of as being clean are not better than gasoline.” In reality, these zero-emissions vehicles are generally fueled by coal.
With a weekday average of more than 276,000 rides last year and a steadily increasing rider population, use of Metro Transit buses and light rail trains has continued to grow since 2005. Last year’s ridership eclipsed 2014’s record numbers by nearly 1.2 million rides. ... When Metro Transit projected the Green Line’s ridership, it was far underestimated, said Yingling Fan, University of Minnesota director of Global Transit Innovations.
Thousands of factors contribute to Minnesota’s vital economy. One of them is the direct Delta Air Lines flight from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Tokyo and the access it provides to Asian markets beyond. But Delta executives warn that this competitive advantage may not last if a proposed agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments erodes the airline’s ability to compete with United and American, the two other major U.S.-based carriers serving Tokyo. (U of M Carlson School professor Alfred Marcus provided background information for this piece.)
To help repair some of Minnesota’s crumbling roadways and bridges, several state transportation departments doled out $32 million in grants last month for highway projects. The 11 projects are geared toward economic development and job creation. All are funded through the Transportation Economic Development Program and approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Employment and Economic Development. ... In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers found that 11 percent of the state’s major roads are in poor condition. Because of Minnesota’s snow and frost cycle, roads need to be repaired more often, said Minnesota Traffic Observatory Director John Hourdos.
Cars will always out speed cyclists, but they could soon zip past at a slower pace if bike advocates have their way. Proponents for lower speed limits are in preliminary talks with local government officials with hopes of creating a safer city for bikers and pedestrians. ... But research shows posting speed limits doesn’t guarantee that drivers will obey them, said Frank Douma, the director of state and public affairs at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
With tens of thousands of new jobs forecast for Rochester under the 20-year Destination Medical Center (DMC) plan, transportation planners have begun plotting strategies to get those workers to the office on time. Far from being a down-the-list detail, transportation has emerged as a core problem to solve, the sooner the better. ... Frank Douma, director of the state and local policy program at the U’s Humphrey Institute, said he was surprised at how detailed the DMC transportation plans got.
If you’re a light rail operator, the final weeks of 2015 were probably disturbing. Within just a few weeks, there were three separate fatal crashes involving a train, ranging from a bicyclist to a wheelchair user to someone crossing a platform. ... “The key is to design things intentionally that really channel attention and behavior through designing from a human-centered systems design perspective," according to Kathleen Harder, who holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and directs the Center for Design in Health at the University of Minnesota.
From the imperfect bulges of Earth's surface to the minute geographies of blood vessels, algorithms are only now beginning to truly understand spaces. Geometry is easy to oversimplify and generalize, especially when it comes to computation, but in our GPS-enabled world, simplifications have big consequences. This is the argument, anyway, put forth in this month's Communications of the ACM by University of Minnesota computer scientist Shashi Shekhar: Spatial computing is the future and it's time to make it an interdisciplinary research focus.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is trying something new when it comes to salting the roads. Megan Moeller from the Olmsted County Public Works Department says that a study done by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Transportation found that a majority of the salt on the ground find its way into the water.
The Drive explores when and where U-turns are legal and who has the right-of-way. Work by the U of M's HumanFIRST Laboratory is mentioned.
The region’s first arterial bus rapid transit line will see nine new shelters installed along Snelling Avenue in the coming weeks, bringing the project closer to its early- to mid-2016 operating goal. ... BRT stations include some of the same features of LRT such as fare machines where riders will pay before boarding, stations with light, heat and bike racks, and a real-time Nextrip display with information on the next bus arrival. The Nextrip signs will be a major strength in defining the route as a transit corridor, said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who studies transit systems.
The Ontario government is tentatively dipping its toe into a form of tolling, promising a pilot project that would let people pay to drive in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on a stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Way.... “Not everybody has the same value of time, and even some people have different values of time at different times,” said David Levinson, a transportation analyst and professor at the University of Minnesota.
Southwest metro commuters are fed up with the congested Minnesota River crossings they use to get to and from work. Though some efforts are being made to address the problem — including the new County Road 101 bridge that opened last week — estimates suggest those fixes aren’t long-term solutions.... People tend to change their travel patterns in response to new transportation options, said Frank Douma, a transportation researcher at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. But those changes are tough to predict.
U of M professor David Levinson writes that recent statistics from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute suggest congestion is rising. A congested city, compared to exactly the same city where everyone can move faster, has lower accessibility (the number of places travelers can reach in a given time is reduced). This limits people’s ability to interact, and thus reduces economic activity, but congestion is also a signifier of economic activity. All the great cities are congested.
A new report has identified the 50 worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, and none in the Twin Cities area made the list.... Our traffic jams are short-lived compared to metro areas where “they don’t distinguish between morning and afternoon rush hours since they have a constant rush hour from morning to night,” said John Hourdos of the University of Minnesota Traffic Observatory.
Metro Transit's quest to find a speedier option to connect the Twin Cities' light-rail lines and beyond is coming soon. Starting next year, the "A Line," a $27 million bus rapid-transit project with features similar to light rail, will run along Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway in St. Paul to connect Rosedale Center in Roseville to the 46th Street light-rail station in Minneapolis. The line will be the first of a dozen bus rapid-transit lines that the Metropolitan Council has proposed in recent years. It comes at a time when more Americans are settling in the urban core, reversing a decades-long trend of moving out to the suburbs.... "It does better than traditional bus service," said Jason Cao, associate professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Cao added that BRT would be an improvement to the current bus route's quality.
U of M professor David Levinson writes that when surface-transportation policy was last significantly overhauled in the United States, in 1991, Americans who wanted to travel to an unfamiliar location used paper maps, usually purchased from a bookstore or gas station. If they were on a toll road, they stopped at the tollbooths and rolled down the window. They listened to an AM/FM radio, a cassette tape, or maybe, if they had a new car, a compact disc. The car of the future was equipped with a fax machine.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been operating the "Living Snow Fences" program for about 15 years. Farmers receive a stipend for participation. Using a program developed through the University of Minnesota Extension and Mn/DOT, the program calculates cost-benefit of a clean, safe highway. The farmer’s cost of corn left on the stalk and the money used to mobilize harvesting equipment in the spring.
Distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota, and in 2014, driver inattention or distraction contributed to 61 deaths and nearly 8,000 injuries on Minnesota roads. The risky behavior continues despite strengthened laws that went into effect in August 2015. At the Towards Zero Deaths conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota law enforcement officers struggling to enforce the vast epidemic learn science could be partially to blame. In late October, New York Times reporter Matt Richtel opened the conference with his Pulitzer Prize winning work, examining a biological shift inside the brain of a cell phone user.
Trucking is looking at a significant shortage of drivers -- 48,000 open positions in an industry of 800,000 -- and trying to figure out how it will fill that hole. Is trucking in crisis or is the pendulum about to swing the other way? "It's not clear where the new truck drivers are coming from as baby boomers age out," said Stephen Burks, an economist who studies the trucking industry at the University of Minnesota Morris.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation charges motorists driving alone anywhere from 25 cents to $8 during peak periods to use the special lanes that are otherwise reserved for carpools of two or more people, buses and motorcycles. But just how much a solo driver is charged is determined by an old complex algorithm operated by an outside vendor. That’s about to change. MnDOT has been working with the University of Minnesota Traffic Observatory to develop a new algorithm that will be run in-house and should better set tolls and control how fast prices rise or fall.
Midwestern cities are being forced to find a new, post-blue collar manufacturing identities. Minneapolis and St. Paul are no exception, but unlike places like Detroit, the Twin Cities — less than 12 miles apart — have made a relatively smooth transition, becoming a curious case study for urban renewal minus the upheaval. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School, explains.
Although praised as environmentally friendly in comparison with other bridge types, wooden bridges are prone to deterioration caused by moisture in the wood, as well as by fungi, insects, and mechanical damage. This damage often occurs within the wood, not on the surface, making the deterioration difficult to detect. Several organizations collaborated on a project to develop a comprehensive research and evaluation program to address the evaluation and inspection of timber bridges using state-of-the-art technology to address deterioration and save money. UMD Natural Resources Research Institute and Minnesota LTAP are included in the project.
When Royalston and the other Minneapolis stations remained in the revised alignment, the issue of ridership was set aside. But it provided a glimpse into a perennial conflict in the planning of big and expensive transportation projects: How do public officials figure out how many people will use them? And do the numbers reflect reality — or simply a desire to fulfill the wishes of the project’s supporters? University of Minnesota professor David Levinson explains.
The Transportationist blog by University of Minnesota professor David Levinson points us to data showing the long decline of annual work hours among developed Western nations. CityLab charted a handful of the labor-hour trajectories below. The trends are remarkably consistent across countries: people have been working less and less since the Industrial Revolution, with total hours falling from around 3000 a year toward the 1500-1800 range.
Over the course of the year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation estimates Twin Cities metro drivers sit in traffic for 34 hours. So, what is the best lane for rush hour? Good Question. MTO lab manager Stephen Zitzow says any perturbation, or deviation, can cause a shockwave that slows traffic.
A complete overhaul of the region’s bus signs began Tuesday as Metro Transit seeks to make the local bus, the backbone of the transit system, less mysterious for prospective riders. A $300,000 effort by Metro Transit will add route numbers and other helpful information, and a smartphone app is coming soon.... “It’s especially important in converting nonusers into users,” said David Levinson, a University of Minnesota professor and transportation expert.
The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society have partnered up through the U’s Resilient Communities Project. A Waconia farmstead is one of 32 proposed projects in Carver County during the one-year partnership. Each year, a city or county is chosen to work with students and faculty from university courses ranging from engineering to environmental sciences.... The U plans to offer a course focused on turning the property into a historic tourist destination, said Mike Greco, Resilient Communities Project director.
There are plenty of other benefits that have nothing to do with drivers.... Other benefits to transit include better overall access to the city (especially jobs), greater mobility for people who don’t drive (for reasons of choice, health, or income), and of course improved sustainability. There’s a basic equity issue here, too, captured by transport scholar David Levinson in a great essay earlier this year at streets.mn explaining why “it warps thinking that the aim of public transit funding is to benefit those non-transit users.”
The University of Minnesota was awarded a $12 million grant from the National Science Foundation earlier this year in order to help scientists at the school create a team of researchers to study how urban infrastructure could adapt to the changing needs of cities. Yingling Fan, an associate professor of urban and regional planning at the Humphrey School, is quoted.
U of M professor Tom Fisher writes about urban planner Joe Minicozzi, who says our poorly maintained streets stem largely from the low-density developments that arose in this country over the past 70 years, resulting in an enormous mismatch between the cost of fixing our extensive infrastructure and the taxes generated by sprawl. Minicozzi makes his case with compelling three-dimensional maps of the data, showing the extent and depth of the problem in all but the most built-up parts of our cities.
Editorial: The city is now partnered with Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota in the MetroLab Network, bringing together city leaders and academics to research, develop and deploy analytical and technological solutions to problems cities face.... The two cities and the U have formalized an agreement to work together, committing to engaging in three projects in 2016. Of about 25 such partnerships around the nation, ours is the only one involving two cities and an academic partner.
At the University of Minnesota researchers are teaming up with city planners, nonprofit leaders, and industry professionals to form solutions that tackle these emerging challenges and prepare communities for the future. These partnerships take advantage of the prevalence of data and technology in society to open new doors for smarter decision making that can lead to more livable, sustainable and resilient cities. The U’s efforts to implement advanced smart cities concepts are part of a growing trend among research universities and technology companies across the U.S. that’s already taken root among global cities, especially in Europe and Asia.
As part of a nationwide effort, the University of Minnesota is collaborating with St. Paul and Minneapolis leaders in order to improve infrastructure and increase citizen involvement in the area. The partnership, announced Sept. 14, is part of a plan called the MetroLab Network, which aims to connect universities and cities in addressing urban developmental issues.... The next step, according to University Urban and Regional Planning Associate Professor Carissa Slotterback, will be creating workshops for University and city leaders — which could include researchers from the University’s Center for Transportation Studies, Informatics Institutes, and Law School — to identify specific project goals.
Metro Transit officials are seeking to build a new business model—one that partners more with nonprofit and private organizations—to move people away from the one-car, one-occupant model. One of the driving ideas behind a new system, which is attracting national attention: a single tool, such as an app or fare card, that could access "all non-drive-alone modes" of transportation.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota are in St. Peter, Minnesota, using LiDAR technology measuring traffic flow. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, or light and radar, using lasers to determine the distance to an object. The research group is using the technology to create algorithms to measure traffic patterns. They came to St. Peter for help with their research, using the intersection of Washington and Broadway Avenues. University of Minnesota Research Fellow Brian Davis is interviewed.
The U of M has teed up an idea—for greener practices—on the green. It involves less water—and fewer chemicals. At the University of Minnesota, turf science professors Eric Watkins and Brian Horgan have 186 plots of grass that could change golf courses everywhere.... The turf these scientists are developing may be slightly more brown than traditional golf course grass. But it promises to make the courses greener. These varieties need less fertilizer and substantially less water.
As the Metropolitan Council prepares to work with local cities on their comprehensive plans, Council staff and leaders are working with local researchers to better understand industry clusters and how local planning decisions and regional infrastructure investments can encourage private investment. The Council’s Committee of the Whole recently invited Lee Munnich, Director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota, and U of M professor Yingling Fan to present and discuss their research on industry clustering.
Highlights of the underground Civil Engineering building includes the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, and how researchers there study how traffic moves through the metro area.
Starting this fall, University of Minnesota students in several different disciplines will begin studying different issues in 14 projects as part of a partnership with Carver County. The studies, with additional 16 planned for spring, are the development of Resilient Communities Project (RCP) which kicked off with a banquet at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on Friday, Sept. 11.... RCP Executive Director Mike Greco said the diversity of Carver County projects is what made the application.
A new collaboration between Metro Transit and Hourcar could make hopping off public transit and getting in a personal vehicle a little easier. Hourcar, a Twin Cities car sharing service, launched a partnership with Metro Transit on Friday, making Hourcar services accessible through Go-To transit passes. And some say the new relationship could make different transportation options more readily available. The partnership will allow Go-To card, U-Pass , Metropass, and College Pass holders to check out an Hourcar at one of its pickup locations. Frank Douma with the U of M Humphrey School comments.
Partnership between Hourcar and Metro Transit could lead to more fare payment integration. Frank Douma, a research fellow who studies transportation policy at the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the goal of being able to use one card for multiple transit uses has been the holy grail.
Cites new research by Assistant Professor Yingling Fan of the Humphrey School about gender differences in commuting times.
By focusing on the narrow window of the peak period, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's “Urban Mobility Scorecard” doesn’t actually do a good job of scoring urban mobility—and instead arrives at some solutions that could hurt it. Meanwhile, other researchers—with Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory leading the way—are now mapping job access instead of just quantifying gridlock to show why the rush-hour battle is often worth it.
The U of M's David Levinson was one of four panelists in a discussion on the future of global freight infrastructure held at the 2015 CV-Outlook. The freight infrastructure panel spanned topics like smart highways, vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, coming safety technology mandates, and where the U.S. stands globally in truck freight efficiency.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute recently unveiled their semi-regular report on urban traffic congestion. While the focus and themes of the report are largely the same as previous years, big changes are underway in how we study, think about, and address metropolitan traffic congestion. One example is a new focus not on movement or mobility of vehicles but rather on the accessibility the system provides for people. For instance, David Levinson compares Manhattan, Kansas to Manhattan, New York. Traffic in the latter is infamously bad, especially compared to the former, but Levinson estimates that Manhattan, NY, is “20 times as accessible as Manhattan, Kan., despite speeds that are, at best, half as fast.”
Behind the buzzers, lights and friendly competition in rounds to be played at 10:30 a.m. and noon on the University of Minnesota stage, the goal is to share innovative transportation research going on at the U and engage the public on important issues, said Laurie McGinnis, director of the U’s Center for Transportation Studies.... The onstage game will augment a host of exhibits featuring researchers’ recent and current studies, including one led by Greg Lindsey in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Women have traditionally spent less time than men commuting (that sounds like a good thing, until you realize that it reflects fewer job opportunities) and more time traveling for household errands. With gender norms fading in the home and at work, you might expect these gaps in travel habits to narrow as well. That’s been true to some extent in Europe, but not so much in the U.S.—where the differences endure today, according to new research. The work was published in the journal Transportation by public policy scholar Yingling Fan of the University of Minnesota. “I think it’s very convincing that the gender gap still exists,” she tells CityLab. “And it’s important that policymakers pay specific attention to women’s travel needs.”
MnDOT recently announced that a section of Highway 169 from Bren Road to 7th Street will be completely shut down for as long as a year beginning in the fall of 2016. The closure will allow the complete re-construction of the bridge over Nine Mile Creek in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Edina. Traffic expert John Hourdos believes it's more efficient to rebuild the bridge all together, like MnDOT plans, instead of in parts.
Anyone who’s ever relied on public transportation knows that waiting can be the worst part. Even with apps that provide arrival estimates, riders can still find themselves at a loss—straining their eyes in hopes of seeing train lights in the distance, or furiously checking phones while wondering what on earth is holding up a delayed bus. But a new U of M study by Marina Lagune-Reutler, Andrew Guthrie, Yingling Fan, and David Levinson suggests that the feelings of frustration associated with waiting can differ significantly depending on how gross a station is, and that simple improvements could make that maddening wait time seem much shorter.
Research by Mark Ditmer, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, finds that drones, or UAVs, could be stressing out wildlife, scientists suggest.
The University of Minnesota has received a $12 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bring together a unique network of scientists, industry leaders, and policy partners committed to building better cities of the future. The network will connect across nine research universities, major metropolitan cities in the U.S. and India, as well as infrastructure firms, and policy groups.
David Levinson found himself stranded on a narrow slab of concrete on University Avenue recently, sandwiched between light-rail tracks as two Green Line trains approached, one from the east and one from the west, both blaring their horns. Levinson, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, could have become the latest casualty on the Green Line, where close calls like his are a daily occurrence....
Tucked along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, this city of 28,000 serves as the scenic home of a cluster of high-tech industries. Lee Munnich, who studies manufacturing clusters at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School, helps explain why.
Inside a little St. Paul garage, they're developing a big idea. You've heard of radar, but how about LiDAR? As Brian Davis, a research fellow with the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota, explains, LiDAR is like radar but with light. It's already used for things like archeology, forestry, and geology, but Davis believes LiDAR could also be used for traffic management.
The University of Minnesota is partnering with a navigation and mapping company to create a dataset that shows accessibility to jobs by vehicles and mass transit.
A team of consultants are studying four key areas where St. Paul Public Works could do a better job, from snow plowing to budgeting and accounting. As part of this effort, they've tapped outside experts—including CTS Director Laurie McGinnis.
The University of Minnesota Accessibility Observatory is partnering with TomTom to create a national dataset that studies and illustrates accessibility to jobs by automobiles and mass transit throughout the country.
Unless you rely on public transit or live within walking distance of work, school and everywhere in between, commuting by car is necessary. For many of us, that unfortunately means being on the road about 200 hours each year — in addition to more than 40 hours stuck in traffic. In working-class terms, a total of 240 hours is the equivalent of a six-week vacation.... We compared our sample across 21 key metrics, among which are average gas prices, average annual traffic delays, rates of car theft, and car clubs per capita. The results, as well as expert commentary (including CTS research scholar Michael Iacono) and a detailed methodology, can be found below.
Hispanics are more than twice as likely to use ride-sharing applications like Uber and Lyft on a regular basis than the average voter, according to a recent poll. U of M professor Saif Benjafaar said the disproportionate number of Hispanics living on the West Coast, where ride-hailing apps are more popular, might account for their higher rate of usage.
In St. Paul, workers using public transit can access 2,000 more jobs than before the debut of the Green Line light rail, according to a new analysis from the University of Minnesota's Accessibility Observatory.
There has been a striking drop in the number of people killed and injured in teenage car crashes in the past 20 years, but no one seems certain just why.... A University of Minnesota study this year found that a smartphone device in cars that disables teen phones in the car and texts parents in real time if the driver speeds, runs a stop sign or drives erratically would help improve focus.
Far more Twin Cities residents are bicycling or walking to work than U.S. Census numbers reported, according to a new detailed analysis of transportation habits. The University of Minnesota study set to be released later this month calculates the number of people getting to work on foot or bike is two to three times larger than Census estimates.
MnDOT is looking for farmers to leave rows of corn stalks standing through the winter to help reduce snow that blows onto state highways and interstates where drifting is a problem. Research conducted by MnDOT, the University of Minnesota Extension Service, and CTS show standing corn rows reduced the severity of injuries on curves by 40 percent.
University research could be used to create a mobile app to reduce accidents in rural areas. Brian Davis strapped a video camera to the outside of a car last year and set off to record the painted lines and contours of Greater Minnesota’s major roads and highways. By recording this data, Davis and a group of University of Minnesota researchers developed a cheap yet efficient way to help people driving in unfavorable conditions in rural Minnesota.
It's almost the legislative session's 11th hour, and some Minnesotans continue to raise questions about the cost assumptions on which lawmakers base their work to fix the state's roads and bridges.... In finding a way forward, it will be helpful to put transportation revenue sources into a broader context, Zhirong "Jerry" Zhao, an associate professor and transportation-finance scholar at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, told us.
Transportation services in Dakota County are like a bowl of pasta. At least that’s how researchers and officials have taken to describing them — a tangled “spaghetti” of agencies and volunteers that get different funds and do not coordinate efforts, leading to service gaps. People spend up to three hours just to get to a medical appointment, with bus transfers and wait time. Other residents attend technical colleges and training programs outside the county because they can’t get to local colleges, a study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies found. The county hopes to change its service system — or lack thereof — by creating a Transportation Coordinating Collaborative, one of seven recommendations in the Center for Transportation Studies report.
CTS published a report this month that found investing in transportation yields a greater return than previously thought, and some say the results are the first step to providing concrete data on the benefits of offering additional funding to roads and highways in the state.
Heather Brown finds out that the areas with the highest number of drivers generally have the most congestion. Minnesota Traffic Observatory lab manager Stephen Zitzow comments.
TomTom's latest traffic study ranks the Twin Cities as the 35th most congested metro in America. Accessibility Observatory director Andrew Owen comments.
The University’s Center for Transportation Studies published a report last month that found an amendment to a state law — which exempts low-level speeding tickets from being placed onto driver’s records — doesn’t produce any significant changes in travel reliability, safety or efficiency. Instead, researchers found people are unaware of how the amendment affects them, and it may increase drivers’ insurance rates.
Minnesota buses equipped with lane-assist technology offer a glimpse at the promise of driverless transit. Currently there are 10 such buses, operated by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, using technology developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota.
Big city sidewalks can feel like an inexplicable dance of elbows and shopping bags and baby strollers and pigeons and texting. But a group of crowd scientists led by U of M researcher Ioannis Karamouzas has whittled the chaos to its core and found that, far from unpredictable, foot traffic follows a mathematical formula elegant for its simplicity.
Flashing yellow arrows permit motorists to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing a statistical model to help determine whether a flashing yellow arrow would be safe at a given place.
It's tough enough for the visually impaired to get around town. Throw in some construction zones and the difficulty level goes up a notch or two. However, an app in the works by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and University of Minnesota researchers is working to make it a bit easier.
Several media stories about of the teen driver support system, developed and piloted by a research team led by Janet Creaser, research fellow in Mechanical Engineering, with funding from the ITS Institute and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The Teen Driver Support System smartphone app was developed after nearly 10 years of work. The U is now exploring whether the app can be commercialized.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. That’s why researchers at the University of Minnesota are using smart phones to keep teens safe behind the wheel. The Teen Driver Support System, or TDSS, is like having an extra parent in the car at all times.
Frank Douma, a research fellow and associate director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the University is poised to benefit from Dayton’s plan because it is a transit-intensive area. “Everybody would feel the impact with paying the up-to-half-cent additional sales tax in what they purchase, but it will come back in increased investment in transit,” Douma said.
University of Minnesota Professor David Levinson is quoted about the use of value capture as a transportation funding mechanism. Read more about value capture research.
Right now, in Minnesota, certain highway speeding tickets won't go on your driving record. But a new Minnesota Department of Transportation report from a project led by the U of M's Frank Douma says that this is putting public safety at risk.
As lawmakers debate whether — and how — to fix roads and add transit routes and bike/pedestrian paths, transportation experts at the University of Minnesota have compiled a database to fuel those quantitative discussions. The Minnesota Transportation Finance Database, part of a multiyear Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness project funded by the 2013 Legislature, is jointly run by the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and its Center for Transportation Studies.
If traditional traffic lights were replaced with virtual ones, the results could include not only a reduction of up to 40 percent in urban workers' commute times, but also lower carbon emissions, less congestion and fewer accidents. According to U of M professor David Levinson, however, getting them deployed anytime soon will be difficult.
With new bike lanes, rapid busways and expanding light-rail lines, commuters in the Twin Cities have more options than ever. But low gas prices could mean slightly more road congestion, said University of Minnesota professor David Levinson.
Local officials and the general public are largely in the dark about the nation’s freight railroads, which carry growing volumes of flammable crude oil, while state and federal governments have limited authority and oversight. And when it comes to rail bridge safety, the industry is generally left to police itself. ... Railroad bridge failures are rare, said Frank Douma, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies. Yet he acknowledges the stakes are higher when trains are hauling hazardous materials.
Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent. This finding comes from a new life cycle analysis of conventional and alternative vehicles and their air pollution-related public health impacts, published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study also shows that switching to vehicles powered by electricity made using natural gas yields large health benefits. Conversely, vehicles running on corn ethanol or vehicles powered by coal-based or "grid average" electricity are worse for health; switching from gasoline to those fuels would increase the number of resulting deaths due to air pollution by 80 percent or more.
Transit experts agree that smart station design is critical to encourage use of the light-rail system in the Twin Cities.... Posted schedules and announcements of impending trains are crucial to attracting and keeping transit passengers, said Yingling Fan, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Carissa Schively Slotterback, associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joins Peter Bell, former chair of the Metropolitan Council, to talk about the role of the Met Council in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.
It’s easy to chuckle at the thought of robot cars. But there’s one simple reason that self-driving cars are inevitable: The current status quo is very bad. Because we all do it almost all the time, it’s easy to forget that driving around in cars all the time is extremely deadly.
The second story in the 5 Eyewitness News series, Rebuilding Minnesota, focuses traffic signals. MnDOT sponsored University of Minnesota researchers to develop SMART Signal, a system that collects real time traffic data continuously, and creates information that can be used to fine-tune traffic timing to minimize drivers' time stopped at red lights.
This is the first report in a new recurring series from 5 Eyewitness News, Rebuilding Minnesota, which is designed to dig for ways to make Minnesota's transportation system work for you—because many Minnesotans believe it's not working as well as it should be.
Transportation and planning officials predict that so-called autonomous vehicles could free up land for development, reshape housing and increase density in the urban core.
Metro Transit will start testing a plan this December to replace the region's ubiquitous "Bus Stop" signs with new placards featuring route information, frequencies, maps and instructions to access real-time arrival data.
Yingling Fan's and David Levinson's research about Twin Cities' transit rider experiences at bus and station stops is cited. "'Having a shelter makes a big difference in people’s perceived waiting time,' Fan explained to me. 'This indicates that it’s important to provide bus shelters at stops. We also found that posted schedule was important, and that people perceiving they are safe at stops was important, especially for female riders.'”
Minnesota's fall harvest has begun, and when the combines are finished, immense piles of corn are likely to dot the countryside. One reason for this: the railroads are packed. Even before the harvest began, railroads were struggling to keep up with demand for shipping Bakken crude oil, coal, taconite and other commodities, especially in North Dakota. Jerry Fruin, a specialist in transportation economics at the University of Minnesota, offers his thoughts.
Cornstalks may be the best defense in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s battle to keep rural roads open when the snow flies. As the harvest begins, this week the agency is asking farmers with fields bordering state highways to leave several rows of corn standing until spring. To boost participation, MnDOT teamed with the University of Minnesota Extension Service on a pilot project that pairs farmers with groups such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America chapters.
Is public transportation only for the rich? It’s a question more people should be asking. And people don’t pay just with money for daily commutes. Humphrey School's Yingling Fan says that we also need to consider the time commuters spend in traveling around a city.
New signs near three rest areas along eastbound Interstate 94 now tell truck drivers how many parking spaces are available. The signs are part of a pilot project led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the University of Minnesota designed to give truckers real-time information about where they can find a safe place to pull off the road.
How many times have you thought about what’s underneath your shoes and tires? If the engineers had their way, you’d never think of about pavement at all.
A new mapping tool that spotlights clusters of industry activity is revealing a fascinating picture of a dynamic Midwestern region with a diverse and vibrant array of manufacturing clusters fueling a regional economic rebound.
Just nine days after Minneapolis officials approved the Southwest Corridor light-rail line, a group of residents filed suit in federal court seeking to block the controversial $1.65 billion project. ... Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, said large mass-transit projects attract litigation because "there are a lot of interests involved, and you’re not going to be able to please all of the people all of the time."
Attendees at NCSL’s Street Smart: Innovations in Traffic Safety Pre-Conference in Minneapolis heard from Janet Creaser with U of M's Roadway Safety Institute about her study of the Teen Driver Support System. The system is an application that was installed on teen drivers’ phones to increase teen driver safety.
A simple shelter can make the wait for a Twin Cities bus feel shorter than it actually is, based on new research from the University of Minnesota.
University of Minnesota professors David Levinson (Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) and Kathy Quick (Humphrey School of Public Affairs) participate in a panel on the anniversary of the 35W bridge collapse about bridge safety and the future of transportation.
How many people will board the five proposed Southwest light rail stops outside of downtown in Minneapolis? Depends on how optimistic you are about transit-oriented development. University of Minnesota professor David Levinson comments.
Who pays when driverless cars have accidents? U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Center for Transportation Studies' Frank Douma comments on insurance for driverless vehicles.
Bicyclists planning routes throughout the state can now use an editable, interactive online map called Cyclopath to help customize their trips, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Cyclopath, developed at the University of Minnesota, is designed to find bicycle routes using ratings from other bicyclists.
Traffic jams are forcing frustrated Twin Cities commuters to waste more time behind the wheel. And that growing congestion has pushed the metro area up to No. 16 on the list of America’s Worst Traffic Cities, according to the seventh-annual Traffic Scorecard Report, released this week by a global traffic-tracking company called INRIX. ... Depending on the methodology, rankings put the Twin Cities between the 13th- and 16th-largest U.S. metro area, said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
Self-driving cars someday will be commonplace in this country, a panel of experts affirmed at a robotics conference in downtown St. Paul on Tuesday. But it won't happen in the next few years — and could take decades — given the many roadblocks in the way of such technology flourishing on U.S. highways, the panelists added. U of M Humphrey School's Frank Douma and Leili Fatehi comment.