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COVID-19 Updates: CCAPS and the University

MTC: March 9, 2021

Programs: March 10 | March 11

11:00 a.m. – Welcome and Plenary Session

INFRASTRUCTURE 2030–2050: Crisis, Renaissance, or Both

Eric Garland, Competitive Futures, Inc.



Infrastructure matters. On the way to school, when turning on the heat in Texas, when planning for a storm in Puerto Rico, when going shopping in Duluth, or going to work in Bemidji, infrastructure is that societal investment which lets all of us focus on other problems. As transportation professionals have been warning year after year, we either invest infrastructure as a society, or find ourselves in the pages of history.

This year, we turn our vision toward the future and look at the trends creating the risks and opportunities in the transportation system of tomorrow, in Minnesota and beyond. In this presentation, Eric Garland, futurist and strategist for corporate and government leaders for over 20 years, takes us through the systems and trends that have been creating the transportation system of tomorrow, what it means for state governments, infrastructure industry professionals, citizens, and other stakeholders. We’ll discuss the future of the built environment, macroeconomics, implications of the post-COVID world, information technology, telework, taxation, and more.

The goal of the presentation is to be able to bring a sense of urgency to policy makers that Infrastructure Matters&emdash;and there’s no time like the present to invest in it, intelligently.

12:15–12:30 p.m. – Networking Time

Using Iteris ClearGuide with HERE Probe Data

Brian Kary, MnDOT

Moderator: Catherine Manzo, StreetLight Data

The MnDOT purchases a software subscription from a company called Iteris that allows the department to track travel times and average speeds on state highways throughout Minnesota. The software platform, Iteris ClearGuide, allows access to probe data provided by HERE Traffic. The Iteris ClearGuide platform provides an easy-to-use interface that converts the HERE Traffic data into real-time and historical visualizations and reports. This helps MnDOT planners and engineers identify problem areas and make decisions on how to relieve these problem areas. This presentation will introduce MnDOT and consultant staff to the ClearGuide product and to provide example use cases.

Mobility Management, COVID 19 and Looking Forward

Tom Gottfried, MnDOT Office of Transit and Active Transportation – Minnesota Council on Transportation Access

Moderator: TBD

This presentation will include the background and context of the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (MCOTA). The presentation will focus on the impact that COVID-19 had on these different Mobility Management organizations.

Advancing CAV by Engaging Community Voices

Tara Olds, MnDOT; Dan Pfeiffer, WSB; Katie Caskey, HDR Engineering Inc.

Moderator: Kate Miner, Stonebrooke Engineering, Inc.

Recent survey data shows that Minnesotans tend to be more excited about the future of CAV compared to the country as a whole. How do we harness this excitement to build trust in Minnesota's CAV program? How do we use CAV to help Minnesota communities realize their goals? How do we ensure all Minnesotans see the benefits from CAV? Can CAV help mitigate existing inequities in our transportation system? This presentation will focus on how MnDOT, its consultant partners, and the University of Minnesota are engaging Minnesotans on CAV. This session will address what we can do with CAV now, what we can do in the next 3–5 years, and how you can be part of the conversation.

Strategies and Lessons Learned for Advancing Contracting Equity

Mary Schmidt, MnDOT; Ted Shoenecker, Ramsey County

Moderator: TBD

Presenters from Ramsey County and MnDOT will highlight strategies, outcomes, and lessons learned from their experience using small contracts to create opportunity for small businesses, with a focus on Minnesota’s Uniform Municipal Contracting Law and other statutes that enable counties and cities of all sizes and from all parts of our state to use public works dollars to advance social, economic and geographic equity.

An Artificial Intelligence (AI) Based Public Engagement Tool: An Ongoing Adventure in the Midwest

Dan McNiel, Ali Nahvi, Jono Cowgill, SRF Consulting Group

Moderator: April Lucas, MnDOT

Natural Language Processing, or NLP, is a field of AI that offers the ability to read, understand, and derive meaning from human languages. This presentation will discuss a tool that allows engagement professionals to conduct sentiment analysis on massive numbers of survey comments and help to inform projects by conducting survey and topic analysis on participants' feedback. Recently, a dashboard was used to analyze survey comments for the US-14 Corridor Analysis Study to evaluate public sentiment and analyze feedback based on the demographic profile of respondents. This combination of analysis can help to process millions of records in a couple of minutes, improving interpretation accuracy that results in project time savings and a better understanding of who provided input and what they are saying about a project.

MnDOT Managing Risks through the Construction-Let Budget Setting Process

Chris Roy, MnDOT Operations Division, Assistant Division Director; Todd Clarkowski, MnDOT; Eric Janssen, MnDOT Operations Division, Cost Estimating Unit; Jay Hietpas, MnDOT Operations Division, Assistant Commissioner

Moderator: Peter Muehlbach, WSB

MnDOT continues to work toward on-time and on-budget delivery of its projects to gain customer trust. Balancing letting schedules, establishing the volume of lettings in each quarter, and reaching toward goals of reducing the amount of negative float in project schedules are just some of the on-time efforts occurring now. On-budget efforts have recently included establishing new guidelines to allow MnDOT to further refine the construction cost estimates of projects, well in advance of lettings, that now also incorporate the known risks while anticipating unknown risks. This presentation will discuss why project construction budget setting is important, how MnDOT will establish construction budgets on all let projects, and how projects should be managed to a budget. Key components to establishing and managing the budget include development of quality risk registers, scoping, and cost estimating principals by MnDOT and its consultants. Districts will consider the threats and opportunities to their project schedules and budgets and then incorporate those additional potential costs into the construction cost estimate, expected at the time of letting. New MnDOT policies have been updated now to incorporate the Construction Let Budget Setting guidance. By managing risks more effectively on each project, cost estimating accuracy at time of letting is expected to improve and will move another step toward MnDOT's goal of on-budget delivery.

New Transportation Needs and Funding Proposals

Margaret Donahoe, Minnesota Transportation Alliance; Erik Rudeen, MnDOT; Ann Johnson Stewart, Minnesota Senate District 44

Moderator: Jody Martinson, WSB

Minnesota's transportation system continues to be underfunded. As the legislature works to develop a new two-year state budget, transportation funding and the potential for increasing dedicated revenue on a permanent basis will be a topic of debate. This session will review the funding proposals put forward by the governor, legislators, and advocates to address the needs and make the transportation system safer and more effective into the future.

Machine Learning-Based Corridor Safety Assessment: Influencing Factors and Hotspots

Ali Nahvi, Sharvari Sangle, David Huft, SRF Consulting Group

Moderator: Mike Marti, SRF Consulting

As part of the North/West Passage (NWP) corridor safety study, we implemented a machine learning technique to quantify contributing factors to severe crashes within the network. The project started with collecting safety data for each state and combining the data to one common format. Then an interactive dashboard was developed for the exploratory analysis and identifying problematic locations. To evaluate the extent of contribution of each factor to severity of the crashes, machine learning was used to explore and quantify safety features' importance. In the end, recommendations were made for improving identified issues. The methodology developed in this study may enable transportation agencies to detect and quantify the main cause of the severity of crashes.

Winning Back Transit Riders During a Pandemic

Len Simich, CEO, Southwest Transit

Moderator: Matt Gjersvik, WSP USA, Inc.

The presentation will describe various methods Southwest Transit has used to encourage riders to get back on the bus during the COVID19 shutdown, and include direct marketing, targeted marketing to especially-vulnerable populations and riders of choice in the Southwest service areas, and efforts to improve the lives of those in the community who need support and assistance in grocery shopping, reaching medical facilities and fighting isolation.

Triumphs and Trailblazing of DBE Graduation: Practices, Strategies, and Resources for Successful DBE Engagement

Sirish Samba, PE, Sambatek, Inc; Mike Barnes, MnDOT; Tracey Jackson, Ashanti Payne, Metropolitan Council

Moderator: Lyssa Washington, 4RM+ULA

A panel of speakers comprising leaders from MnDOT, MetCouncil, Partnering Consultant, and CSB (Certified Small Business) share their perspectives on small business programs with respect to entering the DBE arena, overcoming the challenges, and ultimately graduating out of the DBE program. The presentation will provide practical insights on strategies and resources it takes to nurture win-win-win relationships.

Pivoting Pandemic Public Engagement: How to Prioritize the User Experience

Jono Cowgill, Dan McNiel, SRF Consulting Group

Moderator: Molly Kline, MnDOT

The broad-scale cancellation of group events across the state and region due to the COVID-19 pandemic required governments and public engagement practitioners to quickly deliver alternative options for connecting with the public. The SRF Public Engagement Team has worked closely with a variety of clients to deliver high-quality and adaptable engagement tools designed to serve as alternatives to planned in-person engagement activities. This presentation will share lessons that have been learned from pivoting public engagement activities online and highlight how ongoing engagement efforts can work to ensure a high-quality user experience.

Planning in a COVID World: District Freight Plans and Alternative Engagement

Andrew Andrusko, MnDOT; Stephanie Castellanos, MnDOT District 3 Public Engagement

Moderator: John Tompkins, MnDOT

This session will introduce MnDOT's approach to collaboratively developing regional freight plans as well as the challenges and successes in engaging key freight stakeholders, manufacturers, government representatives, and the public during a challenging time set within the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenters will share lessons learned about planning and examples of how engagement and consensus building can still be accomplished through media even during times when we are not able to meet in person.

1:30–2:30 p.m. – Networking Time

Planes, Trains, and No Automobiles: Around the Airport Project Communications

Brian Miller, Stephanie Roth, HDR Engineering Inc.; Aaron Tag, MnDOT Metro West Area Engineer; Gail Vold Greco, MnDOT Metro Communications & Engagement

Moderator: Ben Lodin, Sambatek, Inc.

Learn about the planning and partnering that went into delivering the Around the Airport construction project in 2020, a year unlike any other. More than one year before the eastbound Highway 5 closure, the project team began shaping its strategy to inform a broad public, infrequent travelers, and target audiences within a six-hour radius of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Not only did this project adjust for COVID-19, it required MnDOT to communicate a little differently to reach people before they traveled to or through the area. Hear from the project team on what was different, how things shifted over time and the silver lining.

Setting Local Speed Limits for Safety: Lessons from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and St. Louis Park

Ethan Fawley, City of Minneapolis; Ben Manibog Jr., City of St. Louis Park

Moderator: Kate Miner, Stonebrooke Engineering, Inc.

In 2019, Minnesota law changed to give local cities the authority to set speed limits on streets under their jurisdiction. At this session, you will hear from three cities who have recently changed their speed limits on their approach to determining appropriate speed limits and implementing the change.

Advancing Transit Title VI Equity Analyses

Jackie Nowak, Jake Knight, SRF Consulting Group

Moderator: Robin Caufman, MetroTransit

Federally mandated Title VI fare and service equity analyses create windows of opportunity for regular analysis of transit system equity. A case study will be presented to show how a procedural Title VI project was leveraged to create a better understanding of transit system use and distribution of benefits and adverse impacts across race/ethnicity and income. Following the case study presentation, session participants will be asked to share in a discussion of how transit practitioners can go beyond mandated Title VI requirements to gain more value for planning processes and ultimately promote more equitable outcomes.

White Bear Lake AV Shuttle Program

Daryl Taavola, AECOM; Ellen Hiniker, City of White Bear Lake

Moderator: Jeff Rhoda, AECOM

The City of White Bear Lake and AECOM and its partners have developed a groundbreaking Automated Vehicle (AV) program to provide innovative transportation solutions that target enhanced mobility for persons with disabilities, better travel options for elderly communities, the establishment of AV career pathway programs, and how to integrate AV solutions into a typical Minnesota small urban or rural community. The project includes a 12-month live AV shuttle pilot on a residential city street and implementation of a high school campus test route to support student workforce development and AV University research. Come learn about an exciting project that will drive emerging mobility solutions for the citizens of Minnesota.

Creating Opportunities: Forging a More Diverse and Inclusive AEC Industry

Bret Weiss, Laura Rescorla, WSB

Moderator: Stephanie Malinoff, University of Minnesota

The communities in which we live and work are far more diverse than our industry. WSB believes that a more diverse workforce will help drive innovation and strengthen our communities. By making investments in the future and helping to remove barriers, WSB is supporting a more diverse and inclusive AEC industry through several diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Learn more about their Opportunity+ Training Program, a straightforward pathway program to recruit and train people for careers in the civil engineering industry and the firm's work with local community partners to support development opportunities for people of color.

The Value of Local Partners in an Urban Project: Hwy 61 Lake City Reconstruction

Cindy Morgan, MnDOT; Megan Smith, Lake City; Michelle Larson, Lake City Chamber of Commerce; Scott Jensen, Lake City Public Works

Moderator: Sam O'Connell, MetroTransit

Communication and engagement can help bolster a project that has become a divisive community issue. This panel will outline how MnDOT, City of Lake City, Lake City Chamber of Commerce and the contractor, Rochester Sand and Gravel, committed to a team effort during the reconstruction of Hwy 61 in Lake City. They built a responsive, informative and respectful communications network utilizing a range of platforms, people and plans. The range of partners ensured that the different segments of the community were reached in effective ways by trusted sources. The discussion will focus on the communication and engagement strategies the team used, including how they remained nimble and adapted to changes as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.

Distance-Based Fees: An Alternative to the Motor Fuel Tax

Kenneth Buckeye, MnDOT

Moderator: Marthand Nookala, SRF

A distance-based fee (DBF) is one potential way to close the highway funding gap and ensure everyone is paying their fair share. DBFs are charges for use of the road based on distance traveled.

Assessing the Twin Cities Bus Expansion Values: Bus Service Allocation Study

Cole Hiniker, Daniel Pena, Metropolitan Council

Moderator: Patrick Walz, HNTB

The Twin Cities region is constantly grappling with the difficult choice of where to invest in expanded transit services. On one end, the region could invest in areas where transit can be the primary means of travel for all of life's daily needs, where frequent service is more readily available for the region's residents and jobs. On the other end, the region could invest in serving new areas or better serving suburban areas that primarily only have express service or very infrequent service today. The Metropolitan Council conducted several workshops with regional stakeholders to ask these very questions: Where should we prioritize service expansion? What values should expansion reflect? This session will demonstrate how the analysis was conducted and what the next steps are for this policy discussion.

Building Trust between Tribal Nations and MnDOT

Adrien Carretero, Duane Hill, MnDOT

Moderator: Paula Berger, WSP USA, Inc.

This session is about relations between tribal government and state government. The context and foundation for this unique legal relationship will be presented as well as the impact tribes have on MnDOT. Examples of partnerships in northeastern Minnesota will be examined in addition to the role of MnDOT's Operations Division.

Engagement: Understanding the User Experience

Dan Pfeiffer, WSB

Moderator: TBD

Physically distanced engagement has been in a supporting role for years. After COVID-19 hit, it was necessary for these tools and techniques to move into a leading role. To select appropriate tools and techniques, engagement professionals and project managers need to understand the user's experience. What barriers to participation does the user face? Do they have access to the internet? Is the tool easy to use? Is the tool accessible (WCAG)? Is the call to action clear?

Setting the Target: How to Right-Size Investment in Twin Cities Highway Mobility

Brian McLafferty, Paul Morris, SRF Consulting Group; Steve Peterson, Metropolitan Council; Paul Czech, MnDOT

Moderator: Nick Thompson, MetCouncil

This presentation will highlight the MnDOT and Metropolitan Council's effort to measure the effectiveness of highway mobility investment on state highways in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. It will cover the process used to identify and prioritize highway mobility performance measures, recommend performance targets, and model future performance outcomes at different investment levels. The presentation will also explore the investment needed to achieve agency goals and the role of social equity in setting mobility targets.

Changing Speed Limits in Minnesota: Thinking Beyond the 85th Percentile

Scott McBride, Jennifer McCoy, Bolton & Menk, Inc.; Mark Vizecky, MnDOT State Aid

Moderator: David Scott, FHWA Minnesota

In 2019, Minnesota law changed to allow cities to establish speed limits on certain streets. These changes make it easier for cities to change speed limits on streets under their authority, many of which had a statutory speed limit of 30 mph unless otherwise posted. As part of this new authority, many communities are determining how to go about setting speed limits on their local roads. Feeling the push from nonmotorized roadway users to lower speed limits, cities are looking at the latest speed limit research regarding vehicle, pedestrian, and bike safety. Across the United States, this conversation is expanding beyond the 85th percentile speed. Bolton & Menk has been working with MnDOT to lead discussions with the goal of developing a unified vision for setting speed limits in Minnesota. Our presentation will cover the latest research and literature in speed limit setting. We will discuss the Minnesota process where engineers, planners, and nonmotorized advocacy groups engaged through a stakeholder process to define a unified vision for speed limits. We will also detail the lessons learned throughout the process.

3:30–4:30 p.m. – Social Hour and Reception

4:30 p.m. – Adjourn for the Day