Minnesota Local Road Research Board News & Updates

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Local Road Research Board News

July 2020

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Guidance for Selecting Pedestrian Crosswalk Treatments

In the right place, crosswalks with curb extensions increase pedestrian visibility to motorists while shortening the crossing distance.

A new guidebook from the LRRB provides a uniform approach to selecting crosswalk facilities for uncontrolled pedestrian crossings in Minnesota.

The user-friendly guide, which is based on recommendations from the Federal Highway Administration and other sources, helps users select the right treatment based on roadway configuration, traffic volume and speed limits.

The guide leaves decisions for facility placement to road agencies, but provides direction on the safety and design benefits, planning-related costs and most suitable uses for 12 crosswalk treatments. 

Visit the project page to learn more.

Best Practices for Managing Utility Congestion Within Rights-of-Way


The LRRB has developed a succinct and accessible best practices guide for managing utilities within rights of way (ROW) (see video). The guide covers the requirements of Minnesota statutes, including the powers granted to local agencies to issue permits, require quality mapping and expect timely progress. The guidebook  also provides recommendations for effective communication between city and county agencies and utility organizations, an underlying challenge in many projects.

Visit the project page to learn more.

Side-Dumping Plow Truck Piloted in Nicollet County

Video of side dumping dump truck

Watch this video demonstration of a side-dumping plow truck in Nicollet County.

Inspired by lessons learned from the Minnesota Truck-Weight Education Program, Nicollet County Public Works sought to adapt a Mack Super Truck from its usual winter snowplow configuration to also haul a much larger side-dumping trailer in summer.

Nicollet County received a $20,000 grant from the LRRB's OPERA Program to find a way to connect a side-dumping trailer to a universal plow truck chassis and use it to increase the agency’s legal load capacity.

The combo truck has become one of the county's most used pieces of equipment, primarily because it has increased productivity without increasing the size of the maintenance crew. 

Visit the project page to learn more. 

GFRP Rebar Shows Promise for Use in Bridge Decks

Researchers attached strain and temperature gauges to the GFRP reinforcement bars before concrete was poured on the bridge deck.

Reinforced concrete bridges are built to handle heavy loads and routine traffic for 75 years or more. But bridges in climates like Minnesota’s are exposed to moisture and chlorides from road salts that may penetrate these structures and corrode the steel.

In a recently completed research project, funded by the LRRB and MnDOT, researchers studied a rural bridge built in 2017 near Elgin, MN, that used glass fiber–reinforced polymer (GFRP) rebar in the bridge deck. GFRP performed well, proving sufficiently strong for use as an alternative to corrosion-susceptible steel rebar.

Visit the project page to learn more.

Systems for Notifying the Public of Local Road Closures Using Smartphone Map Apps

Notifying the public of road closures

There is statewide interest in developing a central repository of local and state road closures that could be used to notify the traveling public about road network closures in real time. 

The LRRB compiled a summary of local and state agencies with experience developing and maintaining a central repository for local and state road closure and traveler information. Of particular interest were systems that update the traveling public about road network closures via Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze smartphone applications or the state’s travel information database.

This Transportation Research Synthesis presents the findings of a survey of state and local agencies that effectively support programs for gathering and distributing road closure data at the local and state levels. These findings are supplemented by the results of a literature search for relevant national and state practices and guidance.

Visit the project page to learn more.

Wet Reflective Pavement Marking Study Featured in Traffic & Transit Magazine

Wet Road

Rainy night-time conditions pose a considerable danger to motorists. In fact, 49% of fatal traffic crashes occur at night, even though we only do around 25% of our driving during nighttime hours. Adding rain to the mix can increase crashes by as much as 57%. 

Wet reflective pavement markings significantly improve visibility -- and have been shown to reduce wet night-time fatalities by 50%. A recent article in Traffic & Transit discusses the benefits and performance standards for wet reflective pavement markings developed by the LRRB and MnDOT. A recent webinar also features the study.  

Visit Traffic & Transit to read the full article.

Gravel Roads Webinar Series: Maintenance Practices Part 2


Minnesota LTAP is hosting a free webinar series based on their most popular and longest running in-person workshop—gravel road maintenance and design. One-hour sessions address specific topics and answer your most pressing issues.

In this webinar, you'll learn about windrows and super elevation. Register to join us for the live broadcast or, if you can't make it, check this page for the recording after the event.

This webinar will be broadcast via Zoom on July 15, 2020, from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Visit LTAP to register.