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Dan Olson

Transportation Nation

Technology Is Key to Curb Deaths on Minnesota's Roadways

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This is Minnesota's most crash-prone stretch of freeway, a half-mile, westbound portion of Interstate 94 on the south side of downtown Minneapolis. Cars from multiple lanes and another freeway mix and merge where the roadway curves and dips, taking many rush hour drivers by surprise. (MPR Photo/Dan Olson)

(St. Paul, Minn. - Dan Olson, MPR News) The number of deaths on Minnesota's highways is at a six-decade low -- 421 last year -- due in large part to improved technology, experts say. There's a lot of technology just around the corner that will save even more lives: ways to alert drivers to "lane drift," gizmos that slow speeding drivers, shut down all cell phones except for 911 calls, or email parents at home if a young driver is violating Minnesota's graduated driver's license rules by being out too late or has too many passengers in the car.

More from MPR News.

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Transportation Nation

St. Paul is Next on High-Tech Bus Bandwagon

Monday, July 12, 2010

More federal money helps get "transit signal priority" and countdown clocks for bus riders.  The former lets drivers running late on their route make a red light change or holds a green light longer, thanks to $1.2 million from Washington.  The latter will take some guesswork out of waiting for the bus, as more signs will tell riders when the next one is coming.  -- Dan Olson, MPR News

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Transportation Nation

Minnesota Says It's Making Progress With Bridge Inspections

Friday, June 18, 2010

(St. Paul, Minnesota - Dan Olson, MPR News)  The Winona Bridge underscores Minnesota's aging transportation infrastructure.  State bridge inspectors on a routine inspection last week spotted  spreading corrosion, made a repair and slapped on some weight restrictions. The rust illustrates the problems associated with that 69-year-old structure and dozens of other spans around the state.

The 2007 collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis put bridge safety at the top of the state's transportation agenda. In 2008, a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found problems with the Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspection system.  The Auditor's report cited untimely bridge inspections, with only 85 percent of bridges inspected within the federal 24-month standard. MnDoT had too few inspectors and documentation of maintenance performed following bridge inspections was inadequate.  State officials say they're making progress responding to bridge inspection shortcomings.

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