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 straight. Please help.
MnDOT is a large, complex agency with many responsibilities. While most people think of MnDOT as a highway organization, it works with and has responsibilities for all the ways people and goods move around the state. This includes Minnesota's highways, rail, aviation, waterways, transit, bicycle and pedestrian systems. Each mode has unique challenges and opportunities, but they all work together to keep people and goods moving.
To ensure MnDOT is investing its time and resources in the right areas, we plan for the overarching needs of the entire system overall as well as the specific needs for each mode. The Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan is the document that sets policy direction for all of the modes. It focuses on the overall needs of the system. The modal and system investment plans—like the Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan, State Rail Plan, State Aviation Plan, etc.—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 years?
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 five years. These are required under federal and state law. This may not seem intuitive, but it makes sense. Think about twenty years ago—iPods were the new hot trend, and the average gallon of gas was $1.36. A lot has changed since then. We can stay up-to-date with the latest technology and transportation trends by updating plans every five years.
Okay, so why not write a five-year plan every five years, you ask? It comes down to goals and processes. Think about what elementary school teachers tell grade schoolers who want to know why they have to learn math, reading, or science. While there are many good answers to those questions, the typical response is for them to graduate high school to then go to college or get a job. These are goals that are attainable in the next twenty years. Thirty or forty-year goals—like getting a good job to have a great retirement—would feel too faraway. Twenty years is a good horizon for people to be able to envision something tangible.
By updating plans every five years but looking ahead 20 years, we keep continuity in the process. If we were updating a plan every five years with a plan for the next five, we would hit year four 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 since our decisions will last long-term. This keeps us in front of what’s to come.
You’re telling me MnDOT is a multimodal agency, so why does this website 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. It is elevated in this website 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. As a result, the highway system has the biggest budget, and it remains MnDOT’s biggest responsibility. We hope you’ll take time to explore MnDOT’s other modal and system plans. All modes are important, and together, they make up the overarching plan: the SMTP.
How do you calculate investment “need” for MnSHIP?
MnDOT used established performance measures and targets to achieve desired system outcomes or conditions to develop its needs estimates in categories including Pavement Condition, Bridge Condition, Roadside Infrastructure, Highway Mobility and Transportation Safety. In categories without performance targets, MnDOT uses the cost to advance additional goals, implement plans and mitigate emerging risks to calculate needs in Advancing Technology, Climate Resilience, Local Partnerships and Main Streets-Urban Pavements.