The Minnesota Department of Transportation wants to test your knowledge of the state's transportation system, while also — and more importantly — providing a platform allowing citizens to shape the future of roads and transit.
Through a new initiative called "Let's Talk Transportation," the agency has created a website, minnesotago.org, where travelers and commuters can answer trivia questions and provide ideas as the agency seeks to set policies on issues of safety and repairing aging infrastructure, and equity and the impact of climate change on travel.
"It's a fun and interactive way to talk to MnDOT," said Ashley Zidon, MnDOT's statewide multimodal program coordinator. "We hope it provides a welcome space for conversation."
The website has six modules featuring comics with factoids that illustrate some of the complex issues MnDOT will need to tackle in coming years, paired with open-ended discussion questions that encourage people to tell their stories about how transportation affects their lives.
Trivia questions to get minds turning introduce each topic. Anybody know what percentage of MnDOT's 28,500 lights on state roads had been converted to high-efficiency LEDs as of November 2020? Or how many intersections still need curb ramps and modern crosswalk signals? What about how much the average motorist spends per year on tires, damaged rims and other repairs caused by bumpy roads?
The answers are 87%, 20,000 and $542, respectively. Did you get close?
When it comes to the discussion questions — such as what should transportation options look like in Minnesota in the future — there are no right or wrong answers.
In the section addressing climate change, for example, MnDOT officials hope people will share how often they drive, or if concerns over the environment have them biking, walking or taking public transit more often. The agency also would like to learn if participants are thinking about buying an electric vehicle or finding other ways to minimize their carbon footprints. The answers could guide where MnDOT adds infrastructure, like electric vehicle charging stations, said Hally Turner, MnDOT's policy planning director.
"Let's Talk Transportation" grew out of a brainstorming session as MnDOT was rethinking its public engagement strategy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When life is heavy, transportation policy is not always top of mind," Turner said.
That engagement so far has been exclusively online, but don't rule out a neighborhood Zoom trivia dinner party. MnDOT stands ready to throw some on request, and maybe even offer some prizes, all in an effort to expand its reach and get people talking about transportation.
"Transportation impacts everybody differently, and we want to learn how to make it work for everybody," Zidon said. "We will use feedback to craft long-range policies."
Work on Hwy. 10 starts Monday
Motorists using Hwy. 10 in Coon Rapids in the vicinity of Round Lake Boulevard should prepare for delays as MnDOT begins a bridge replacement and signal replacement project Monday.
Hwy. 10 motorists can expect single-lane traffic, ramp closures and short-term intersection closures between Main Street and Northdale Boulevard.
Follow news about traffic and commuting at the Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail email@example.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.