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Chapter 5 – How will we guide ourselves moving forward?

Objectives, Performance Measures & Strategies

This plan focuses on five objectives:

  • Open decision-making
  • Transportation safety
  • Critical connections
  • System stewardship
  • Healthy communities

Each objective includes related strategies for MnDOT and transportation partners. Taken together, the objectives and strategies support the Minnesota GO Vision and help address the changes affecting Minnesota (Chapter 3).

All transportation partners are engaged in many different activities that help to realize the vision on a daily basis. The purpose of this plan is not to list every possible activity, but to focus on key areas where additional emphasis is needed.

To help ensure that progress is made in the coming years, each objective includes a list of related performance measures. These measures will help track progress toward meeting the objectives and the desired outcomes of the vision.

The objectives and related strategies are listed in no particular order. All are critical focus areas for the upcoming years. Each objective has four parts:

  • Objective statement – a few key phrases that describe the goal that MnDOT and transportation partners are working toward
  • What this is about – more description about the goal of the objective
  • Performance measures – existing performance measures that track progress toward the objective
  • Strategies – a list of actions to help MnDOT and transportation partners achieve the objective. The bold text of each indicates the strategy statement and is followed by additional description and examples.

Open Decision-Making

Make transportation system decisions through processes that are inclusive, engaging and supported by data and analysis. Provide for and support coordination, collaboration and innovation. Ensure efficient and effective use of resources.

What this is about

Essential to open decision-making are the elements of accountability, transparency and communication. Transportation decision-makers are stewards of the transportation system and have the responsibility to make informed choices and be open about how and why decisions are made. Decision-makers need to rely on many different types of information and inputs in order to make responsible decisions and balance priorities. Integrated into all these elements are the important considerations of socio-economic equity and individual ability.

Engagement with transportation users and those otherwise affected by the system is a critical input to the transportation decision-making process. Decision-makers cannot just communicate decisions but must create opportunities for the public to influence decisions as well. Transportation partners should use different tools and techniques in order to facilitate good engagement. Good engagement uses inclusive, accessible and varied tools to reach different communities. Specific focus should be given to reaching individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in transportation decision-making. This will result in decisions that better reflect the priorities of all Minnesotans.

Communication and education are also critical to open decision-making. Effective communication is not just about making information available. It is also about making it easy to find and understand. This includes using plain language and meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act document accessibility standards. Additionally, education is the foundation for understanding. This includes telling the big-picture story of the transportation system, the importance of investing in it, and the trade-offs that need to be made, as well as communicating project scopes, timelines and impacts.

Open decision-making is supported by data, analysis, performance measurement, research, and risk management. It is the responsibility of transportation partners to continually explore technology, innovation, and the driving forces behind the system. These are important tools for improving transportation planning processes and increasing the efficiency of the transportation system.

The importance of open decision-making processes are recognized and supported in federal legislation and state regulations. However, truly open decision-making goes beyond just meeting legislative requirements. It is about building public trust. Since the majority of transportation funding comes from the public through fees and taxes, transportation decision-makers need to be accountable for the decisions they make. They need to ensure public resources are used efficiently and effectively and that decisions are well documented and communicated.

Performance Measures

Table 5-1 lists the existing MnDOT performance measures that are related to the Open Decision-Making objective. Additional performance measures are proposed to be developed. These proposed measures are identified in Chapter 6.

Table 5-1: Open Decision-Making performance measures
Measure Target Reporting
Annual percent of respondents that agree with the following statements:
  • “MnDOT can be relied upon to deliver Minnesota’s transportation system.”
  • “MnDOT considers customer concerns when developing transportation plans.”
  • “MnDOT acts in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Annual percent of survey respondents indicating they are confident in MnDOT:
  • Building roads and bridges
  • Maintaining roads and bridges
  • Communicating accurate info to MN citizens about their transportation plans and projects
  • Providing alternative transportation options for the future
80% - for each statement Report number of statements not meeting target and which; identify differences among demographic groups
Annual percent minorities and women in the highway-heavy construction workforce No target Report percent and trend
Annual percent minorities and women in MnDOT’s workforce No target Report percent and trend
Annual percent of MnDOT construction projects let in the year scheduled (defined as projects in the first year of the STIP let in that year) 90% Report percent and trend


Engage with both users and those otherwise affected by the system throughout all transportation processes. Engagement is a key input to decision-making. It is important for transportation partners to engage both users and those otherwise affected by the system. Engagement is important to understand the needs for a specific project. However, engagement should not be limited to just projects. It is also important for transportation partners to regularly engage with the public and each other to better understand overall the priorities for the system. This includes understanding what is important today and what will matter in the future. When engaging with the public, transportation partners should use a variety of tools and techniques. Everyone should be able to participate regardless of age, race, national origin, language, income, housing stability or individual ability. Specific focus should be given to reaching individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in transportation decision-making. When doing engagement, it is important to provide familiar opportunities but also to try new and innovative tools and techniques. For example, Metro Transit’s Better Bus Stop program uses federal funding to improve the user experience at bus stops in neighborhoods with high levels of low-income or minority residents. Metro Transit contracted with twelve community groups to engage with residents in order to determine what improvements should be made and how to prioritize them.

Communicate project-level information and impacts to the public and partners in a timely manner. Project-level communications are critical to ensuring that Minnesotans are aware of potential impacts to their travel and businesses are aware of impacts to freight and their customers. Transportation projects may also have impacts to their surrounding communities. Impacted communities should be included in communication plans as well. Transportation partners should strive to clearly and timely share information about projects and any potential impacts. Communication should begin in advance of the project and continue until the project is complete. Information should be easily understood and available through a wide variety of channels to help the people and businesses of Minnesota make informed decisions about their transportation plans. Accurate and open communication is critical to maintaining trust between transportation partners and Minnesotans.

Educate the public and partners on system-wide, modal questions in addition to project-specific transportation information. In addition to project-level information, proactive and ongoing communications about big-picture transportation issues, decisions and processes is also an important component of open decision-making. It helps to ensure transparency and promote understanding. Transportation partners should work with each other and the public to identify key questions and develop educational materials to answer these questions. The materials should be engaging, honest, easy to find and accessible to all Minnesotans.

Improve early coordination in planning, project-selection and scoping to more effectively and efficiently use resources and maximize benefits. Coordinating with partners early within the planning, project-selection and scoping processes may present opportunities to combine resources and leverage public and private investments. It allows transportation projects to address multiple needs, including non-transportation issues and goals related to health, housing, the environment and economy. For example, MnDOT District 7 uses the 10-year Capital Highway Investment Plan as an engagement tool to discuss project needs, timing and coordination with local partners early in the project development process. Specifically, they focus on projects five to seven years out from construction. The Duluth – Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council worked with the City of Duluth to develop the Duluth Downtown Streetscape Plan. With many of the downtown streets reaching the end of their life cycle, the area-wide plan will help ensure other community priorities are addressed as the streets are repaired. Additionally, it is important for transportation partners to coordinate projects within their own programs to minimize negative impacts to the traveling public whenever possible.

Develop and support a diverse workforce within the transportation sector. For truly open decision-making to occur, it is important to have multiple perspectives at the table. This allows for a more comprehensive discussion that better reflects the goals and priorities of all Minnesotans. Workforce diversity is essential to achieving this. Additionally, the transportation sector workforce is the face that the industry presents to the public. What that face looks like can have impacts on the level of engagement possible within different communities. It is important that partners within the transportation sector actively seek diverse workforce participation at all levels, including individuals of different races, genders, languages, ages and abilities. This includes developing new talent as well as providing support and growth opportunities for existing employees. A diverse workforce also contributes to increased access to well-paying jobs and wealth creation for a broader cross-section of Minnesota. For example, MnDOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program helps ensure women- and minority-owned businesses are able to participate in transportation construction contracts.

Use performance measurement to inform decision-making and show progress toward national, statewide, regional and local goals. Performance measurement is one of the key inputs to the transportation decision-making process. It is an important tool to support open decision-making and should be used by transportation partners across all modes. MnDOT is a leader in the use of performance measures to evaluate services, guide plans and track progress toward meeting national goals and overall state priorities. Recent federal legislation required that Metropolitan Planning Organizations also develop and use performance measures to track progress toward these and other regional goals in Minnesota’s major urban areas. In addition to goals and priorities, it is also important to consider existing commitments, trade-offs and available data when developing measures and targets for use in decision-making.

Ensure key transportation data is kept up-to-date, usable and easily accessible to transportation partners and the public. Data is an important tool used to inform decision-making and communicate decisions. It is also becoming increasingly essential in the operation of the transportation system. As such, it is important that transportation partners continue to collect and share key data, such as infrastructure alignment, facility location, asset condition and use. It is also important that the data is kept up-to-date and is able to be integrated and used across jurisdictions and between the public and private sector. Additionally, transportation partners should continually work to improve existing datasets as well as identify and develop new datasets. Transportation partners should review the data they collect to ensure it aligns with and supports broader goals and objectives. This will help improve decision-making and allow the transportation system to change over time. For example, MnDOT recently led an effort to implement a linear referencing system to standardize roadway location information in Minnesota. When complete the system will integrate with other MnDOT applications as well as with partner systems.

Use research to inform decision-making and foster innovation within the transportation sector. Transportation decision-makers rely on many different types of information and inputs to inform decisions. Research and analysis provide the basis for this information, helping to identify best practices, quantify costs and benefits, and highlight potential issues and impacts. Research is also critical to fostering innovation through identifying and testing new trends, tools, and techniques. It is important that transportation partners continue to support research and innovation in all areas. This includes planning, safety, materials, construction and maintenance practices, data collection and others.

Transportation Safety

Safeguard transportation users as well as the communities the systems travel through. Apply proven strategies to reduce fatalities and serious injuries for all modes. Foster a culture of transportation safety in Minnesota.

What This is About

Transportation safety is a top priority for Minnesota. It includes both the safety of individual users as well as the safety of the communities the systems travels through.

Transportation user safety applies to all users of the transportation system regardless of their mode of travel. Comprehensive traveler safety involves an integrated approach that includes the “4Es” of safety – education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma services – and more. Each of these areas is critical to improving overall safety and helping to grow a traffic safety culture in Minnesota.

Community safety is much more than just transportation. However, there is a role transportation partners can play to help ensure communities are safe. Specific transportation infrastructure, facilities and services can impose risks to the communities they travel through. For example, a train carrying hazardous materials can have serious public safety impacts in the instance of a derailment. Similarly, airport safety zoning is used to help avoid potential public safety issues involving airport operations. Transportation partners need to safeguard against these and similar risks. There are also risks to the transportation system that can negatively impact community safety by inhibiting essential travel needs such as emergency response and emergency medical and trauma services. These threats include severe weather, acts of terrorism and crime. Special events like major sporting events and political conventions can also strain or overwhelm the transportation system’s capacity and inhibit public safety efforts.

Performance Measures

Table 5-2 lists the existing MnDOT performance measures that are related to the Transportation Safety objective. Additional performance measures are proposed to be developed. These proposed measures are identified in Chapter 6.

Table 5-2: Transportation Safety performance measures
Measure Target Reporting
Total number of fatalities and serious injuries on Minnesota roadways resulting from crashes involving a motor vehicle each year 300 fatalities and 850 serious injuries by 2020 Report totals and by mode and urban / rural; report trend
Total number of aviation fatalities and incidents each year No target Report totals and trend
Total number of rail derailments each year No target Report totals and trend
Annual percent of at-grade rail crossings meeting grade-separation guidelines No target Report percent and trend
Total percent of the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response buildout complete 100% Report percent


Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths

Mission: To create a culture for which traffic fatalities and serious injuries are no longer acceptable through the integrated application of education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency medical and trauma services. These efforts will be driven by data, best practices and research.


  • Establish the vision of TZD as a priority for all state and local agencies and units of government
  • Create and strengthen traffic safety partnerships
  • Promote and implement effective traffic safety initiatives


  • Continuous improvement
  • Engaged partners
  • Evidence-based approaches

Learn more at www.MinnesotaTZD.org

Increase participation in and continue support for the collaborative safety initiative Toward Zero Deaths. Minnesota’s cornerstone roadway safety initiative, TZD is led through a partnership between MnDOT, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Minnesota Department of Health. It is a collaborative program aimed at eliminating fatal and life-changing injury crashes on Minnesota roadways by strategically addressing education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency response issues. MnDOT and partners provide overarching direction and financial support towards achieving the TZD goals through the Strategic Highway Safety Plan and Highway Safety Improvement Program. Additionally, TZD Regional Coordinators work to bring together local safety partners, stakeholders and the public to help spread best practices statewide, bring more voices into the conversation and promote a culture of safety throughout Minnesota.

Explore new opportunities to improve safety for all modes of transportation. Although important, TZD is only one piece of the overall transportation safety picture. Transportation partners across all modes should continue to find new ways to communicate and work together to improve safety for travelers, infrastructure, facilities, services and the communities they travel through. When it comes to safety, different modes have different issues, priorities and regulations. However, there is a lot that can be learned through coordination and collaboration. This data and information sharing can lead to new safety strategies and policy actions that draw on the best available data, research and experience to improve the safety of the transportation system.

Develop and share critical safety information and support educational initiatives to reduce unsafe actions by all transportation users and operators. Educational initiatives help to inform transportation system users and operators of the rules and risks related to transportation, helping to promote safety throughout Minnesota. For example, the TZD program sponsors statewide and regional workshops to bring together safety partners and share information about safety trends, current and emerging practices, and ongoing efforts related to the 4Es. Individual agencies also lead specific safety efforts. DPS develops and distributes child passenger safety materials to child care centers, preschools and teachers to help educate about keeping kids safe in vehicles. MnDOT provides educational information on rail crossings, work zone safety, distracted driving, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. MnDOT also conducts pilot safety seminars at events throughout the state to help ensure Minnesota pilots remain current in safety training. Additionally, Greater Minnesota transit operators receive continued safety education and training from MnDOT on topics such as passenger assistance, defensive driving and driver and passenger safety. Collaboration and coordination of these educational efforts is critical. Also, as noted in the Open Decision-Making objective, it is important that educational materials are engaging, honest, easy to find and accessible to all Minnesotans.

Emphasize enforcement techniques with proven safety benefits. Compliance of users with transportation laws and requirements is one key aspect of improving safety for all modes. This includes traffic laws, truck weight restrictions and railroad laws, among others. Enforcement is important to achieving compliance. For example, cities, counties, MnDOT and DPS work together on to enhance enforcement efforts to prevent impaired driving. These efforts have been a factor in the continued reduction of alcohol-related crash deaths in Minnesota. In addition to proven strategies, new opportunities and methods for improving compliance should also be considered. This could include rewriting existing laws in plain language to improve understanding. It also could include exploring new technologies and tools for more efficient enforcement. It is important to remember that enforcement is limited; it cannot stop all violations. Other strategies to improve compliance should be explored in addition to enforcement based on the issue or context. For example, education strategies can help improve compliance and should be coordinated with related enforcement efforts to maximize the benefits of both.

Plan, design, build, operate and maintain transportation infrastructure and facilities to improve the safety of all users and the communities they travel through. Transportation infrastructure, facilities and services should be planned, designed and built with the goal of improving safety of all users regardless of age, race, national origin, language, income, housing stability, individual ability or choice of travel mode. As an example, many units of government adopted complete streets ordinances or policies that direct how roads are designed to enable safe access for drivers, transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists. However, there may be instances when safety improvements for one mode may have adverse impacts on other forms of transportation. It is important to consider these trade-offs in safety decision-making. Additionally, MnDOT and other transportation partners continually work to ensure the compliance of the transportation system with Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to design, the operations and maintenance of infrastructure, facilities and services also have impacts on user safety. It is also important to note that not all safety issues can be solved through engineering solutions. Engineering, along with education and enforcement, should be used collectively to improve transportation user safety.

Implement strategic engineering and technology solutions to improve transportation safety. For roadways, this primarily includes systematically implementing cost-effective improvements, such as cable median barriers, rumble strips, intersection lighting and turn lanes. Access management and performing proper maintenance on transportation assets can also help improve safety. Additionally, technology plays a critical role in improving safety for all users of the transportation system. Examples include intersection conflict warning systems, bus driver guidance assist systems, smart phone applications for the visually impaired, emergency vehicle signal preemption, air navigation aids and positive train control technology, which is train location and collision avoidance technology for freight and passenger rail service. Advances in vehicle technology, such as self-driving and connected vehicles, may dramatically improve transportation safety and should be encouraged and embraced as the technology develops.

Work with emergency medical and trauma services to reduce response time and increase survivability. Quick intervention by emergency services dramatically increases the survivability of those impacted by transportation crashes. For this reason, support of the statewide trauma system is critical. This includes minimizing obstructions to crash locations, such as blocked roadways, as well as ensuring safe and reasonable access to hospitals and other key facilities such as heliports, airports and major highways. Since law enforcement officers are often first responders to the scene of a crash, it is also important that their first responder training be current.

Collaborate with local, regional, state and federal planning efforts to ensure efficient and coordinated response to special, emergency and disaster events. Efficient and coordinated response when major events occur, whether anticipated or unexpected, is an essential component to ensuring overall transportation safety. No one partner can do this alone. It is critical during these events that the transportation system continues to operate and that emergency medical and trauma services are not impacted for travelers and the broader community. Transportation partners can accomplish this through emergency relief and disaster preparedness plans as well as strategies and policies that support homeland security and safeguard the personal security of all users. For example, MnDOT developed an emergency response plan that provides for mitigation, response and recovery to events that impact transportation. The emergency response plan is supplemented with mutual aid agreements with various agencies and local jurisdictions. MnDOT also provides training and resources to communities for the development and implementation of Airport Emergency Plans. Additionally, many individual organizations, including state and local agencies, emergency responders and public transit providers also prepare emergency response plans. For example, the Grand Forks - East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization established a Bridge Traffic Incident Management Plan to address traffic impacts during closure of any of the four major bridges across the Red River in their area.

Enhance and maintain emergency communications infrastructure across the state. The ability of first responders and other critical personnel to communicate during emergency events is a key component of public safety. Cellular service is often the go-to form of communication to call emergency medical and trauma services to the scene of a crash or to alert authorities of other emergencies. However, cellular service has limitations. It is not available everywhere in Minnesota and networks can be overwhelmed. While transportation partners should continue to support efforts to provide wider access to cellular service, it is also important to enhance and maintain other emergency communications infrastructure to ensure communications are always available. For example, MnDOT maintains a statewide shared safety communication system for Minnesota public safety providers through a communication backbone service known as the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response. ARMER provides a key backup system and a strategic platform to support national, state, regional and local initiatives such as the Integrated Public Alert Warning System and FIRST Net.

Critical Connections

Maintain and improve multimodal transportation connections essential for Minnesotans’ prosperity and quality of life. Strategically consider new connections that help meet performance targets and maximize social, economic and environmental benefits.

What This is About

The transportation system is a vital part of keeping Minnesotans connected to jobs, family, shopping, health care, school, places of worship, recreation and entertainment. Each person identifies different connections as critical based on where they live and their individual needs. In urban areas, critical connections may mean providing safe and reliable alternatives to driving during peak travel periods. In rural areas, it may mean roadway connections to regional centers for both people and goods.

Critical connections also vary by type of transportation. For example, the key connections needed for driving may be different than those for freight, transit, bicycling or walking. These connections may also vary in scale depending on whether people and goods are moving across the state, throughout a region or within a community. All of these connections are important to the overall economic prosperity and quality of life in Minnesota.

While many types of connections are important, given finite resources, it is necessary to set priorities to provide complete, efficient and affordable movement of people and goods. Though all connections are important to someone at some time, there are critical – or priority – connections that serve as the backbone for movement across and within Minnesota. Identifying, maintaining and enhancing these priority connections are shared responsibilities. As a state agency, MnDOT, in cooperation with other transportation partners, strives to provide connections that move people and goods across the state and within regions. This includes roadways, waterways, intercity and regional bus, airports, rail, and bicycle routes. Metropolitan planning organizations strive to ensure connections that move people and goods throughout their region. This means developing regional transportation plans and programming projects of regional significance. Local units of government, such as cities and counties, strive to ensure connections that move people and goods within their community. This could mean an integrated network of local roads, safe options to bicycle and walk, easy access to transit service or local connections to key freight routes. All connections, regardless of level, location or transportation type, need to be developed in coordination with one another to ensure a truly connected Minnesota.

Performance Measures

Table 5-3 lists the existing MnDOT performance measures that are related to the Critical Connections objective. Additional performance measures are proposed to be developed. These proposed measures are identified in Chapter 6.

Table 5-3: Critical Connections performance measures
Measure Target Reporting
Placeholder for system reliability and delay measures for the Interstate and National Highway System To be determined Report total and by passenger / freight and urban / rural; report trend
Average annual aircraft delay compared to scheduled departure time at MSP No target Report total and trend
System airports with adequate approaches appropriate for their airport classification 100% Report percent and trend
Annual transit on-time performance within the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota No target Report percent and trend
Total percent of state-owned sidewalk miles substantially compliant with ADA standards 100% Report percent and trend
Annual number of available seat miles offered on scheduled service nonstop flights from MSP and GM airports No target Report total and trend
Population within 30 minutes surface travel time to a paved and lighted runway No target Report percent and trend
Percent of state’s communities whose span of transit service meets the minimum guidelines each year 90% Report percent and trend
Average annual number of jobs accessible within a 30-minute drive during AM peak No target Report total and trend
Average annual number of jobs accessible within a 30-minute transit commute during AM peak No target

Report total and trend


Define priority networks for all modes based on connectivity and access to destinations and integrate the networks into decision-making. This means identifying the connections essential for local, regional, statewide, national or global travel so Minnesotans can reach the destinations important to them. This may include both existing and proposed facilities. Priority networks should be defined at the local, regional, statewide, national and global levels. For example, MnDOT identified the state bicycle network and state priority freight network. Metropolitan planning organizations, regional development organizations and local governments define local and regional bicycle routes. Examples include the Metropolitan Council’s Twin Cities Regional Bicycle System Study, the Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments 2040 Regional Bikeway Map or the regional development organizations’ DevelopMN Initiative which has a strategy to identify a coherent network of the most critical roadway connections to maintain over the next 20 years. Transit systems should meet minimum service guidelines which identify the number of hours a transit agency provides service during weekdays and weekends based on the community’s size.

Identify and prioritize multimodal solutions that have a high return on investment. Selecting investments and operational strategies that have a high return on investment demonstrates sound management of limited resources. Calculating return on investment is not limited to only financial considerations. It also includes social, economic and environmental factors such as safety, noise, travel time, vehicle operating costs, surrounding land use and context, air quality and wetland impacts to name just a few.

Identify and prioritize low-cost improvements to accelerate social, economic and environmental benefits when large-scale solutions cannot be implemented in the foreseeable future. Funding and other constraints may delay or prevent transportation agencies from implementing long-term solutions. In these instances, there may be opportunities to provide lower-cost improvements that can address the transportation need in the short-term until funding is available to provide a long-term solution. For example, MnDOT identified the conversion of US 10 between Coon Rapids and St. Cloud to a freeway to address safety issues as a long-term solution. Currently, this solution is not financially feasible. As a result, MnDOT also identified and is implementing a variety of short-term strategies to address the immediate safety challenges until the funding for the freeway conversion is available.

Support and develop multimodal connections that provide equitable access to goods, services, opportunities and destinations. Transportation connects people to their daily needs and provides them with links to goods, services and opportunities. Every day we take numerous trips - going to work or school, shopping, seeing a doctor, visiting friends or taking a vacation. How we make these trips may vary depending on such things as the travel options available, distance traveled, time constraints or even the weather. While the type of connections – roads, transit, rail, bicycle, pedestrian, water or air – available will vary by geographic area, the connections should be accessible regardless of age, race, national origin, language, income or individual ability. This includes ensuring the transportation system meets the transportation goals and strategies identified in Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan and the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and considers the needs of individuals without stable housing. It also means ensuring these connections are not just available but useable. For example, there may be a bus route to a destination, but the scheduled times or hours of service may not make it a viable option to meet user needs.

Provide greater access to destinations and more efficient, affordable and reliable movement of goods and people throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. As the major population and economic center in the state, the efficient movement of goods and people into and throughout Twin Cities is critical to the state’s overall economy and quality of life. Delays in the metro area can cause delays in the state’s overall transportation network. For example, an intercity bus or semi that is delayed in the metro area will arrive later at its next destination, which may cause additional delays at other stops. Improving system efficiency and providing bottleneck relief in the metro area has statewide benefits. Multimodal options, including transit, bicycling and walking, are important contributors to the efficient movement of people throughout the region. A better defined and connected freight network—air, rail, truck, ports, waterways and intermodal facilities—will provide greater accessibility and more efficient movement of goods contributing to the overall economy and quality of life of the region and state. The Metropolitan Council has identified active traffic management, the development of the MnPASS Express Lane system, and the expansion of the metropolitan area transit system as primary focus areas for reducing congestion and improving safety.

Improve freight operations and intermodal connections for better access to the transportation system. Important freight connections include links to manufacturers and distribution centers, farm-to-market routes, forestry access, terminals on the rail, waterway and air cargo systems, and others. Protecting and improving these connections is an essential part of ensuring the state’s prosperity. As an example, the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council formed a Harbor Technical Advisory Committee to discuss harbor-related issues and concerns, promote the harbor’s economic and environmental importance to the community, and provide sound planning and management recommendations to decision makers. MnDOT completed the Statewide Freight System Plan and several regional-level freight studies. MnDOT uses the plan and studies to inform the planning and decision making process.

Provide transportation options that improve multimodal connections between workers and jobs. Deciding whether to accept a job or what jobs are available to an individual are influenced by several factors such as the cost of housing and the availability and cost of transportation. There are instances in Minnesota where there is a mismatch between where workers live and where jobs are available. Expanded transit service, shuttle service, carpools and telecommuting are some tools that can make jobs more accessible.

Develop and improve multimodal transportation options within and between cities and regions. People and goods move within and between cities and regions using air transportation, passenger rail, intercity bus, transit and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. The type of transportation used – whether air, rail or bus – depends on numerous factors such as travel time, cost, availability and personal preference to name a few. Providing a variety of transportation choices that connect regional economic centers as well as providing options for moving within a city supports the state’s economy and allows everyone – regardless of age, race, national origin, language, income or individual ability – to access goods, services and opportunities. Providing these connections also encourages the use of other forms of transportation besides driving alone.

Develop and improve connections between modes of transportation. Not only is it important to provide multimodal connections within and between cities and regions, it is also important to support connections between the different forms of transportation. For example, located in downtown Duluth, the Duluth Transit Authority opened the Duluth Transportation Center, a facility that serves transit and intercity bus. It also includes a parking ramp and connections to the city’s skyway system and trails. Planners envision future connections with intercity passenger rail. Connections between modes are also important for the movement of freight. Intermodal freight terminals provide multimodal access to national and international markets. The Twin Cities have two rail intermodal (truck to rail) container terminals: BNSF’s St. Paul Intermodal Facility and CP’s Twin Cities Intermodal Terminal.

System Stewardship

Strategically build, manage, maintain and operate all transportation assets. Rely on system data and analysis, performance measures and targets, agency and partners’ needs, and public expectations to inform decisions. Use technology and innovation to get the most out of investments and maintain system performance. Increase the resiliency of the transportation system and adapt to changing needs.

What this is about

After decades of building new corridors and facilities, MnDOT and transportation partners are increasingly shifting their focus to maintaining the existing transportation system. As stewards of the system, transportation partners must protect the massive public and private resources invested in the transportation system.

System stewardship addresses three concepts: asset management, system management and system resiliency.

Asset management is a systematic process of cost-effectively operating, maintaining and upgrading assets once they are built or purchased. Transportation assets include all aspects of the transportation system such as travel ways, vehicles and support facilities. This also includes data, software, and research that helps improve materials and practices to maximize the useful life of an asset.

System management involves planning for the appropriate changes that will allow the system to adapt to future needs. In strategic system management, it is essential to set priorities and manage based on those priorities. This includes making trade-offs when necessary. It is critical to think in terms of risk and to assess likely impacts to Minnesota’s quality of life, economy and the environment.

System resiliency refers to reducing vulnerability and ensuring redundancy and reliability to meet essential travel needs. The transportation system is vulnerable to many types of threats and risks, such as severe weather, acts of terrorism and cyber-attacks. Advanced preparation as well as mitigation and adaptation to threats and risks helps to ensure the people and goods are able to continue to travel during emergencies.

Performance Measures

Table 5-4 lists the existing MnDOT performance measures that are related to the System Stewardship objective. Additional performance measures are proposed to be developed. These proposed measures are identified in Chapter 6.

Table 5-4: System Stewardship performance measures
Measure Target Reporting
Annual percent of state highway miles with poor ride quality in the travel lane Interstate: 2%
NHS: 4%
non-NHS: 10%
Report percent and trend
Annual percent of state bridges in poor condition as a percent of total bridge deck area NHS: 2%
non-NHS: 8%
Report percent and trend
Placeholder for transit vehicle condition measure To de determined To be determined
Annual percent of runway and parallel taxiway pavement in poor condition at all paved airports 4% Report percent and trend
Annual percent of routine bridge inspections completed on time 100% Report percent and trend
Annual percent of routine culvert inspections completed on time 80% Report percent and trend
Annual percent of bridges with posted weight restrictions To be determined Report percent and trend


Give asset management priority to infrastructure on identified priority networks. Good system management requires setting priorities and managing based on those priorities. The Critical Connections objective directs transportation partners to identify priority networks for each mode based on current and future connectivity and accessibility needs and to use the networks to inform the decision-making process. Priority networks should be identified for each type of transportation (e.g., roadway, transit, pedestrian). The size and extent of these priority networks will vary by mode, jurisdiction and focus. For example, MnDOT’s highway priority network, the National Highway System, looks different than its priority for the pedestrian system, which is to support local pedestrian networks that connect to key destinations within communities and across road networks. When it comes to asset management, it is not feasible to maintain all transportation assets in current condition or better due to available resources and changing transportation behavior; the system should change over time. Given this outlook, it is important for transportation partners to invest in priority assets accordingly. This means some assets will be maintained to a higher standard than others. For example, the City of Duluth identified a priority sidewalk network for snow removal. Additionally, this may include strategically upgrading critical existing infrastructure where appropriate.

Maximize the useful life of transportation assets while considering system performance, costs and impacts to the state’s economy, environment and quality of life. Capital, operations and maintenance decisions should be made using a risk-based asset management approach. This approach strives to maximize the useful life and minimize the life-cycle cost of all transportation assets. It also considers impacts to the state’s economy, environment and quality of life. The timing of fixes and asset replacement can and should be influenced by economic, environmental and quality of life factors. Considering these factors as part of asset management decision-making allows the system to change so it can address present and future needs.

Incorporate asset management principles in capital, maintenance and operations decisions. A holistic approach is required for effective asset management. Capital, maintenance and operations decisions are all linked and impact one another throughout the life of an asset. For example, capital investments have future operations and maintenance expenses. Likewise, operations and maintenance decisions can impact how frequently an asset needs to be replaced. It is critical that these implications are considered when decisions are made.

Better align ownership and operations of Minnesota’s transportation assets with statewide, regional and local priorities. Transportation assets, including roadways, transit systems, sidewalks, trails, rail track, airports and port and waterway infrastructure, are owned and operated by many different levels of government as well as private-sector businesses and organizations. The types of funding available, overall priorities, performance expectations, etc. varies depending on who owns and operates the asset. To be good stewards of the system, all transportation partners should ensure they can safely maintain and operate the assets they own. This may require right-sizing the system by transferring ownership or consolidating services. It is important that all transportation partners continue to work together and support better aligning asset ownership and operation with priorities at all levels to promote overall system stewardship.

Better coordinate the management of all assets connected to the transportation system. Transportation assets cross jurisdictional boundaries and are connected to other infrastructure systems. For example, city infrastructure like water, wastewater and fiber optics may be located under a MnDOT-owned roadway that also supports county transit service. Assets also include data. Transportation partners need to continue to communicate with each other about data management, asset condition and projected needs. This communication helps better coordinate projects, increase efficiencies, maximize the useful life of all assets and minimize disruptions whenever possible.

Proactively identify risks to the transportation system and surrounding communities in order to prioritize mitigation and response activities. Identifying vulnerabilities before they become emergency situations allows transportation agencies to adapt and plan appropriate responses. Mitigation strategies can help the transportation system and surrounding communities become more resilient to special, emergency and disaster events. For example, MnDOT completed a flash flood vulnerability assessment in two of its districts to identify bridges, culverts and other infrastructure at higher risk of flooding due to climate change.

Support regional approaches to mitigating identified risks to the transportation system and surrounding communities. Many risks to the transportation system are larger and more complicated than what can be effectively managed by transportation agencies alone. Addressing these risks requires regional strategies and includes non-transportation partners. For example, it is not always feasible or desirable to address flood mitigation at the individual transportation project level. Sometimes reducing the risk of flooding to a transportation facility, such as making a culvert or bridge opening wider, can create additional risks downstream to property owners and communities. Likewise, changes in land management can create new flood risks to existing transportation facilities. Regional approaches, including transportation partners, watershed districts and land managers, can often be more effective and less expensive at mitigating flooding.

Use recovery efforts to reduce system vulnerabilities. While no one wants to experience an emergency like major flooding, recovering from this type of event presents a unique opportunity to implement major changes. For example, since 2009, the City of Moorhead has purchased homes that are prone to flooding. In the long-term, this will reduce the costs that occur when the Red River floods.

Providing ongoing training to transportation professionals. As our population ages, so, too, does our workforce. Learning to conduct inspections or how to properly maintain some transportation assets can take years of on-the-job training. Many of the workers who currently complete these tasks have been doing their job for many years and are nearing retirement age. Often times, their knowledge has been gained from experience; it’s not something that can be effectively transferred through a manual or class. Workforce shortages can also be caused by economic changes or changes in regulations. For example, the nation currently faces a shortage of truck drivers due to both an increased demand for freight movement as well as new government Hours-of-Service regulations that limit the number of hours current drivers work. It is critical that new workers have the opportunity to learn from these experts and that transportation partners are developing employees with long-term workforce sustainability in mind.

Conduct regular inspections of transportation infrastructure, facilities and equipment to monitor conditions and identify risks. Proper operation and maintenance of the transportation system requires regular inspections. These inspections are also critical for identifying and addressing risks. For example, MnDOT recently hired additional rail inspectors to monitor the condition of Minnesota’s railways. MnDOT has also studied the effectiveness of using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in conducting bridge inspections to reduce the costs and improve the quality of the inspections.

Healthy Communities

Make fiscally-responsible decisions that respect and complement the natural, cultural, social and economic context. Integrate land uses and transportation systems to leverage public and private investments.

What This is About

Transportation does not exist solely for transportation’s sake. It provides people with connections to education, employment, recreation and other opportunities that build communities with healthy economies, environments and people. Fostering healthy communities in Minnesota requires that Minnesota’s transportation partners consider the impacts of the transportation system on users and the surrounding context. Context refers to the things people care about—the people, places and circumstances of their lives. Transportation and context are closely linked. Together they shape the communities where life takes place. It is important that transportation decisions consider community characteristics such as land use, energy consumption, the environment, economy, culture, public health and the needs of traditionally underserved populations. Conversely, transportation decisions impact the surrounding context and shape the ways in which people live, work, play and access services. Land use decisions that are complementary of the existing and planned transportation system limit the environmental impact of new transportation demands and make Minnesota’s transportation system more efficient.

Not all places are the same and there is no one size fits all solution for transportation decisions. Considering context when making transportation decisions leads to projects that are safer, sustainable in scale and tailored to the specific places in which they exist—projects that respect and complement the economy, environment and quality of life in a place. It also helps ensure that Minnesota is advancing equitable access to opportunities, preserving our natural and cultural heritage for future generations, and maintaining an environmentally and economically-sustainable transportation system for all to use well into the future.

Performance Measures

Table 5-5 lists the existing MnDOT performance measures that are related to the Healthy Communities objective. Additional performance measures are proposed to be developed. These proposed measures are identified in Chapter 6.

Table 5-5: Healthy Communities performance measures




Annual greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector

29.5 million tons CO2e by 2025

Report total and trend

Number of criteria pollutants below National Ambient Air Quality Standards threshold each year

All criteria pollutants below threshold

Report number of pollutants not meeting standards and which

Total percentage of acres planted with native seeds on MnDOT projects

To be determined

Report percent and trend

Total percent of light fixtures using LED luminaries on MnDOT roadways


Report percent

Annual percent of MnDOT omnibus survey respondents perceiving safe environments for bicycling / walking

No target

Report percent and trend

Annual total road salt used for snow and ice control on the state highway system compared to modeled optimal salt use

Less than 10% more than modeled optimal quality

Report percentage difference and trend


Plan, design, develop and maintain transportation infrastructure and facilities in a way that reflects and is informed by the surrounding context. Not every transportation project is the same. The scope of work, the users of the facility and the characteristics of the surrounding community all require unique considerations. For this reason, a one-size-fits-all approach to decision-making and project development is not appropriate. Transportation partners need to make decisions that are reflective of context. Doing this requires having sound information and examples of key considerations from which to draw, including potential engagement, design and environmental mitigation strategies, among others. Context considerations will help strengthen the connections between land use and transportation decisions by providing multiple “starting points” for project-development conversations, depending on the needs of those who use the system and the surrounding community. The principles of Context Sensitive Solutions will guide plans and projects to address environmental, economic and social needs while involving a broad range of stakeholders, advancing equity and creating lasting value for communities.

Give higher priority to transportation improvements in areas with complementary existing or planned land uses. Community land use planning should consider existing and planned transportation projects as a way to enhance the efficiency and affordability of the transportation system. Local land use decisions can significantly impact the transportation system – especially when development patterns do not match up with the existing or planned transportation system. For example, siting schools or medical facilities on the edge of communities stresses the transportation system by requiring people to travel greater distances to access resources and often results in new infrastructure investments. Higher priority will be given to transportation projects that serve communities actively planning for and implementing mutually supportive transportation and land use decisions. For example, under Minnesota’s Safe Routes to School program, local communities must require new subdivisions be built with sidewalks to be eligible for grant funding. Where appropriate, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a tool that connects land use and transportation infrastructure through higher density residential and commercial development. TOD often incorporates features that better facilitate transit use, bicycling and walking. Local parking policies can also be adjusted to rely on market-based strategies to ensure balanced supply and demand for parking.

Coordinate land use and transportation planning within communities to ensure consistency, maximize benefits and limit long-term costs. Coordinating land use and transportation plans can help ensure that transportation and the surrounding context work together in promoting community, economic and environmental health while limiting the long-term costs of potential discrepancies. Strong coordination helps ensure that transportation decisions are made with land use in mind and that land use and development consider existing and planned transportation infrastructure. This type of coordination is especially important for institutional land uses. For example, communities should consider airports and their required safety zones during the comprehensive planning process to ensure land uses that are compatible with the airport. Communities with airport safety zones within their jurisdiction should also depict these boundaries on official zoning maps. These actions will both increase a community’s understanding of airport zoning and reduce future land use conflicts and the costs associated with addressing conflicts.

Use a complete streets approach to assess trade-offs in order to better serve both users and those affected by the transportation system. A complete streets approach to transportation decision-making seeks to integrate the needs of all users regardless of socioeconomic status or individual ability through the design, operation and maintenance of a transportation facility. Examples of complete streets approaches include improved pedestrian crossings, consideration of truck movements and accommodating transit stops. MnDOT is committed to the principles of complete streets. The agency has a policy for complete streets to be considered in all projects along the state highway system. Partner agencies are encouraged to formally adopt a complete streets approach. Using a complete streets approach also benefits those who spend time in places that are located near to transportation facilities. Complete streets may reduce the speed and volume of vehicle traffic by using traffic calming strategies and encouraging mode shift away from driving alone. This in turn can reduce the likelihood that transportation facilities become barriers. It can also lessen the environmental impact of the transportation system on surrounding communities.

Support and implement approaches that preserve Minnesota’s natural resources, avoid causing environmental harm and improve environmental quality. It is important to address environmental concerns at the project level but also consider broader impacts throughout the system. Using, maintaining and operating the transportation system impacts the environment. Examples of these impacts from transportation include air pollution, water quality issues, storm water runoff, wetland degradation and noise. At the project level, these impacts must be considered in order to minimize effects to the local environment and meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). At the system level, Minnesota’s transportation system is responsible for air emissions (including particulates, carbon dioxide and more), runoff and other externalities that affect people living around transportation facilities. Frequently, these impacts are more pronounced in communities of color and low-income households. For example, major transportation corridors have often been built through communities of color, resulting in elevated air pollution levels within 300 meters of busy roadways. Minimizing negative impacts from the transportation system in these communities is an important aspect of advancingequity through the transportation system. When possible, transportation projects should look to improve environmental quality and provide ecological services through activities like increasing pollinator habitat by using native seed mixes on roadsides and increasing the integration of green infrastructure components.

Next Generation Energy Act of 2007

The Next Generation Energy Act sets targets for energy conservation, renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emission reductions. The GHG goals identified in law are for Minnesota to reduce emissions from all sectors to:

  • 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015
  • 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025
  • 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050
While data is not yet available for 2015, Minnesota likely did not achieve the identified reduction target.

Make transportation decisions that minimize and reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota behind only electricity production facilities. It plays a large role in whether the state will meet the emission reduction goals set by the Next Generation Energy Act. Making transportation decisions that minimize and reduce total greenhouse gas emissions will ensure that Minnesota’s transportation systems do their part in combating global climate change.

Support economic vitality and create and maintain jobs through transportation infrastructure investments. MnDOT will work with public partners, like the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, as well as private partners to define economic development objectives and leverage local and private resources in an effort to support net-positive economic opportunities in Minnesota. All transportation partners should continue to be actively involved to ensure that the projects selected for funding achieve net economic gains for the state while carefully considering the tradeoffs that accompany economic development opportunities. A particular focus should be placed on ensuring that economic development activities work to advance equity for all people in Minnesota. The Scenic Byways program is an example of transportation investments that help support local economic development and create and maintain jobs through tourism.

Develop a transportation system that is respectful of cultural resources and maintains those resources for generations to come. Minnesota is home to a vast array of cultural resources that are tied in some way to the transportation system. Cultural resources can be broadly defined as evidence of past human activity, including art, language, structures and more. Ensuring that these resources are considered in transportation systems is crucial to allowing future generations of Minnesotans to visit, explore and enjoy the same cultural resources that exist today. The transportation system should do its part to preserve Minnesota’s indigenous languages, historic properties and cultural identities for years into the future.

Identify and give priority to infrastructure improvements, services and education that increase the number of people who bicycle, walk and take transit. Increasing the number of people who bicycle, walk and take transit has numerous benefits for Minnesota’s communities. Shifting a greater share of travelers towards more active modes has the potential to improve the health of Minnesota’s people and environment by encouraging physical activity and reducing vehicle emissions. Programs like the federal Transportation Alternatives set-aside offer funding and resources to encourage walking and biking in communities that benefit all community members. Additionally, increasing the availability of broadband access may allow Minnesotans to work remotely or connect to medical services without needing to travel significant distances to see a specialist. Reducing the number of people driving alone has a number of benefits that can improve community, economic and environmental health. Whenever possible transportation decision-makers should focus on person throughput rather vehicle throughput. Fewer people driving alone use also benefits freight movement, as fewer cars on the road would mean less congestion and more space for trucks to carry goods.