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Frequently Asked Questions

We don’t know if they’re frequently asked until you ask them! Please let us know if you have any questions by submitting an inquiry through our contact form. In the meantime, here are some things we think you might be interested in.

There are so many plans! I can’t keep them all straight. Please help.

MnDOT is a large, complex agency with many transportation responsibilities. While most people think of MnDOT as a highway organization, it works with and has responsibilities for all of the modes. This includes highways, rail, aviation, waterways, transit, bicycle and pedestrian systems in Minnesota. Each mode has its own unique challenges and opportunities, but they all work together to keep people and goods moving.

To make sure MnDOT is investing its time and resources in the right areas, we plan for the unique needs of each mode, as well as the overarching needs of the entire system. The Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan is the document that sets policy direction for all of the modes. It focuses on what the system as a whole needs. The modal and system investment plans, like the Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan and Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan, look at the unique needs of a specific mode or system and direct funding. By looking at Minnesota’s transportation system as a whole and its individual parts, we can make sure we’re effectively planning for the future.

If I’m looking at this right, you update 20-year plans every five years. Why not every 20?

You are looking at it right! Minnesota is required to have both a 20-year Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan and a 20-year State Highway Investment Plan that are updated every four years. This is required under federal and state law. This may not seem intuitive, but it makes sense. Think about twenty years ago—Windows 95 was just released, DVDs were the new hot trend, and the average gallon of gas was $1.09. A lot has changed since then. By updating plans every four years, we can stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends with transportation.

Okay, so why not write a four year plan every four years, you ask? It comes down to goals and process. Think about what elementary school teachers tell grade schoolers who want to know why they have to learn math or reading or science. While there are many good answers to those questions, the goal-oriented response is so that they can graduate high school and be prepared to go onto college or enter the workforce. There’s a desired future that’s attainable in the next twenty years. We could respond that they need to learn science so they can retire someday…but that would be too far out. Twenty years seems to be the right horizon. In addition, by updating every four years but looking ahead 20, we don’t lose continuity in the process. If we were updating a plan every four years with a plan for the next four, we would hit year three and have little foresight for the future. Not to mention, the decisions we make about transportation today will last 100s if not 1000s of years to come! We better think long-term if our decisions will last long-term. The current rules keep us always looking out in front of what’s to come.

You’re telling me MnDOT is a multimodal agency, so why does this website place such a focus on the State Highway Investment Plan?

You’re right. MnDOT is a multimodal agency, which is why the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan (SMTP) looks at all the different ways to move people and goods through Minnesota. The Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP) accounts for one of the modes. The reason it is elevated in this website is because it’s operating on the same timeline as the SMTP. Our highway system in Minnesota is the most built-out of all the modes. It has the biggest budget, and although there is an increased multimodal emphasis, our highway system remains MnDOT’s biggest responsibility. We hope that you’ll take time to explore MnDOT’s other modal and system plans by linking from the homepage of this site. All modes are important, and together they make up the overarching plan: the SMTP.

How do you calculate investment “need” for MnSHIP?

For assets like pavements, bridges,and roadside infrastructure we model investments required to meet condition targets by the end of the 20 year planning period.

For other investment categories,needs are based on an estimate of investment sufficient to make progress toward established objectives over the next 20 years.

How do you calculate the demand for public transportation in Greater Minnesota?

Public Transit Demand is calculated with a demand computer model that use demographic census data combined with trip rates. The result is the demand for public transit in Greater Minnesota in terms of trips. We count trips as riders.

The Minnesota Department of Health conducted a Health Impact Assessment on the SMTP. What is an HIA and how did you use the results?

A Health Impact Assessment is a systematic process that uses an array of data sources and analytic methods and considers input from stakeholders to determine the potential effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or project on the health of a population and the distribution of those effects within the population. HIA provides recommendations on monitoring and managing those effects.

The HIA developed by the Minnesota Department of Health focused on the SMTP objectives Transportation Safety, Healthy Communities and Critical Connections. We reviewed the HIA findings and recommendations before finalizing the strategies and performance measures in the draft SMTP. We also included some of the recommendations in the Work Plan found in Chapter 6 What’s Next for MnDOT?