Tag Archive for 'Minnesota'

The St.Lawrence Seaway at 60 – A Vital Waterway 

On its 60th anniversary, the St. Lawrence Seaway is stronger than ever as it performs its mission to move commodities in and out of America’s heartland 

By Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook 

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation 

2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the binational waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes and the heartland of America. How fitting that in this anniversary year, we can talk about the bright future of the Great Lakes Seaway System – North America’s “Fourth Sea Coast”, while celebrating its historic past. 

The Great Lakes economy is a powerhouse on an international level. With a GDP of $6 trillion, the Great Lakes region would be the third largest economy in the world if it were a country. 

State and local economies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York are benefitting from the surge in shipping in the St. Lawrence Seaway. In 2018, cargo shipping was up 7% in the St. Lawrence Seaway, sustaining over 237,000 jobs in the Great Lakes region in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and shipping. 

Top performing cargoes included U.S. grain shipments which increased 37% over 2017, liquid bulk shipments which increased 22% over the previous year, and steel slabs which saw a 53% increase. 

We are living in a transformative moment as the Seaway turns 60 this year. Yet, there is one constant that we always begin and end our day with: our focus on safety and reliability. 

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao is clear about her priorities: focus on safety, invest in infrastructure, and promote technological innovation. Those priorities speak to the heart of the mission at the Seaway. 

The 2018 Seaway navigation season was one of the safest on record, a continuation of the long and steady improvement in our safety performance. New technology, newer fleets, a stringent inspection program and highly trained staff all play a key role in our ability to achieve exceptional safety results. 

In 2018, the reliability rate for the lock and channel infrastructure in the St. Lawrence River section of the Seaway remained extremely high. The System Availability rate improved to 98.9 percent from 96.4 in 2017. 

When it comes to safety and reliability, it is important to include the work of the Ballast Water Working Group. The binational group inspects the ballast tanks of incoming ocean vessels to ensure there are no aquatic invasive species in the tanks. Every tank of every international vessel that entered the Seaway System and Great Lakes was inspected, totaling over 9,300 ballast tanks last year. The results in 2018 sustain a track record of effective oversight and acknowledge the strong cooperation of the maritime industry. These results continue to support the fact that “no unmanaged ballast water is coming into the Great Lakes through the Seaway on international vessels.” 

This year also marks the completion of a decade of infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance work at the U.S. locks under the ground-breaking Seaway Asset Renewal Program. Through the first ten years of this program, the SLSDC has obligated $152 million on 50 separate projects. Several projects involve the implementation of new innovations and improved technologies for the operation of Seaway infrastructure, resulting in reduced maintenance needs and operating costs to Seaway users. 

One of the projects involves the installation of a unique, first-of-its-kind, Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) technology system in the locks. The HFM system uses vacuum pads, each of which provides up to 20 tons of holding force, mounted on vertical rails inside the lock chamber wall to secure the ship during the lockage process as it is raised or lowered while keeping it at a fixed distance from the lock wall. The HFM technology will increase efficiency, improve safety, reduce operating costs to Seaway users, and reduce lock transit times by nearly seven minutes per lockage, equating to 3-4 hours of potential time savings on a roundtrip transit. The use of HFM will also significantly increase the pool of vessels worldwide that will be able to enter the Great Lakes Seaway System. It is arguably the most important technological advance at the Seaway since 1959 and will revolutionize the vessel transit experience through the Seaway. 

With over $35 billion in economic activity and more than 237,000 U.S. and Canadian jobs dependent upon the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, the waterway is a driver of economic development in the Great Lakes region. 

On its 60th anniversary, the St. Lawrence Seaway is stronger than ever as it performs its mission to move commodities in and out of America’s heartland. 

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Interesting Events

By Greg Sitek

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to participate, live and digitally, in several events that have or will have an impact on our world. They involved asphalt, tires and mobility and the introduction of a new piece of equipment.

Mobility is at the heart of all our activities. It’s a basic human need, both social and economic, as well as
a powerful environmental constraint. The challenge that we must now meet is: provide good solutions for society and the planet and make them a level of responsible corporate development. Critical components of mobility are the construction industries – roads & bridges, rail, waterways, ports & terminals, buildings — residential, commercial, industrial, institutional – infrastructure. Without the construction industries paving the way society would become stagnant.

The bottom line is that “mobility” is an essential component in today’s world but mobility has to be done responsibly. In this issue is an article on Movin’On.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) recently presented field test results for its LX1 prototype electric hybrid wheel loader to a group in California. Included were Volvo’s customer Waste Management, which carried out the field tests, CALSTART, which conducted emission tests on the machine, and the California Energy Commission, which helped fund the LX1 project. Since the end of last year, the LX1 has performed hundreds of hours of real work in two applications at Waste Management facilities in California.

The LX1 prototype cuts fuel consumption radically while delivering quiet reliable performance that leaves a small carbon footprint. A full-size diesel-electric loader?

Yes. You can see and listen to it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BMPS3kWoAg8 and there is an article on it in this issue.

And then there was a webinar on a perpetual design software update.

The Asphalt Pavement Alliance introduced Version 4.3 of PerRoad Perpetual Pavement design software. Developed at Auburn University, PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy to estimate stresses and strains that would prove detrimental for fatigue cracking or structural rutting.

PerRoad Version 4.3 incorporates recent research conducted on the Pavement Test Track at the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University and then validated with live traffic on Perpetual Pavement sections. The new features allow PerRoad to perform a conventional mechanistic-empirical (M-E) design to directly compare against Perpetual Pavement designs. It can also use strain distribution or a single endurance limit strain value to design a Perpetual Pavement.

“Perpetual Pavement designs allow us to limit distresses to the easily repaired surface,” stated David Timm, Ph.D., P.E., developer of PerRoad. “By coupling layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure, PerRoad helps a designer understand the layer thicknesses and other values that will ensure a long-life asphalt pavement.”

PerRoad, which is available for free from www.AsphaltRoads.org/PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy. The program couples layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure (Monte Carlo simulation) to estimate stresses and strains within a pavement. Version 4.3 provides design results as percentile responses and as conventional designs with transfer functions.

Perpetual roads are…

Ten departments of transportation were named winners of the 2016 Perpetual Pavement Award by Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA). The award celebrates long-life asphalt pavements that reflect the characteristics of a Perpetual Pavement design. The award is presented to state transportation departments and local agency road owners for well-performing asphalt pavements that are at least 35 years old with a proven high-quality structural design.

To earn the award, the pavement must not have suffered a structural failure, and it should have an average interval between resurfacing of no less than 13 years. The road must demonstrate excellence in design, quality in construction, and value to taxpayers. Engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University, evaluated the nominations and validated the results for this year’s Perpetual Pavement Award winners.

Since the Perpetual Pavement Award was first presented in 2001, 118 pavements in 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have been honored with the award.

The states winning the 2016 award were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. For details visit: http://www.asphaltroads.org/news/post/asphalt-pavement-alliance-announces-winners-2016-perpetual-pavement-awards/

TRIP Reports: Minnesota Faces $2.8 Billion Transportation Funding Shortfall

Minnesota Faces $2.8 Billion Transportation Funding Shortfall, Leading To Increasingly Deteriorated & Congested Roads Amid Declining Transportation Funding. Between $779 Million To $1 Billion In Needed Projects Outside Major Urban Areas Not Able To Move Forward

Amid a declining level of funding available for maintenance and improvement to the state’s roads and bridges, Minnesota faces a $2.8 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next four years, leading to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, a lack of safety improvements, and increasing congestion due to increases in vehicle travel. This is according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. TRIP’s report identifies unfunded transportation projects in areas outside the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth areas, costing between $779 million and $1 billion, that are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety. The amount of funding available for road maintenance and improvements by the state, counties and municipalities is projected to decrease by 16 percent from FY2016 to FY2021.

The TRIP report, Moving Minnesota Forward: Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” examines road and bridge conditions, travel trends, economic development, highway safety, transportation funding, and the status of needed transportation improvements in statewide and in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth areas.

Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained, urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition. Due to a lack of funding, the number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

Six percent of Minnesota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.

“The data is clear,” said Julie Ring, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “Minnesota’s transportation system is facing critical needs and the cost of maintaining and improving our network of roads, bridges and transit systems grows every year. It’s time for the Legislature and Governor to compromise and move forward a comprehensive transportation funding package that addresses the needs throughout our state.”

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Minnesota drivers in the state’s largest urban areas lose as much as 47 hours annually as a result of traffic congestion, totaling up to $1,035 in lost time and wasted fuel each year.

The chart below details needed projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022. The report also includes needed but unfunded projects in the Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities urban areas.

 

“With an already large transportation funding shortfall and a dwindling level of transportation funding available in the coming years, Minnesota is poised to see increasingly deteriorated and congested roads in the future,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Additional transportation funding will allow the state to move forward with dozens of needed projects that will provide a smoother, safer and more efficient transportation system for drivers, and allow the state’s businesses to maintain and expand their competitive edge.”

Executive Summary

A decade after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Minnesota’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the North Star State.

Minnesota’s transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

The state faces a $2.8 billion shortfall in funds needed over the next four years to make needed improvements to its transportation system. The annual shortfall during this period is projected to more than double, leaving dozens of needed transportation projects throughout the state stranded on the drawing board and unable to proceed.

With population and employment growing steadily, Minnesota must continue to improve its transportation system to foster economic growth and maintain and attract business. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting Minnesota’s need to further modernize its transportation system will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require additional transportation investments and a commitment to providing roads and highways that are safe, smooth and efficient. While a sound transportation system is key to economic growth and quality of life, numerous transportation projects in the state — which are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion, improve roadway safety and enhance economic development opportunities — remain unfunded, threatening Minnesota’s future progress in providing a safe, efficient, well-maintained transportation system.

POPULATION, TRAVEL AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN MINNESOTA

The rate of population and economic growth in Minnesota has resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

Minnesota’s population reached approximately 5.5 million residents in 2016, a 12 percent increase since 2000. Minnesota had approximately 3.4 million licensed drivers in 2015.

  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Minnesota increased by 13 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 52.6 billion VMT in 2000 to 59.6 billion VMT in 2016. VMT in Minnesota increased five percent just in the last three years (2013 to 2016).
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Minnesota is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
  • From 2000 to 2015, Minnesota’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 26 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.

ROAD CONDITIONS IN MINNESOTA

A lack of adequate funding has left more than a quarter of Minnesota’s major urban roads and highways with pavement surfaces in poor condition. Based on current funding projections, the condition of state-maintained roads is expected to deteriorate significantly in the future.

  • Overall, 15 percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Fifteen percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 53 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twelve percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Fourteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 57 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Due to a lack of funding, the number of miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • The chart below details pavement conditions on major, locally and state-maintained roads and highways in the state’s largest urban areas:

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MINNESOTA

Six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Minnesota that are 20 feet or more in length show significant deterioration and are in need of repair. The share of state bridges that are deficient is expected to increase at current funding levels.

  • Six percent of Minnesota’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • MnDOT estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.
  • Six percent (706 of 11,016) of Minnesota’s rural bridges are structurally deficient, while four percent (94 of 2,339) of the state’s urban bridges are structurally deficient.
  • The chart below details the total number of bridges and the share of structurally deficient bridges statewide and in each of Minnesota’s counties.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MINNESOTA

Improving safety features on Minnesota’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. Minnesota’s rural roads have a fatality rate that is significantly higher than that on all other roads in the state. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • A total of 1,922 people were killed in Minnesota traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 384 fatalities per year.
  • The fatality rate on Minnesota’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was nearly three and a half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.40).
  • A disproportionate share of traffic fatalities take place on Minnesota’s rural roads, compared to the amount of traffic they carry. While rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 34 percent of all vehicle miles of travel in Minnesota in 2015, they accounted for 63 percent of fatalities.
  • The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural, non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides. Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes with narrow lanes.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve. While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.
  • Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the amount of funding available and the nature of the safety problem on that section of road.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid resistant surfaces at curves, and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points on a road, but also by making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services. 
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and, better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior). TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over 20 years. 

MINNESOTA TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion by the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas, as well as the annual cost of traffic congestion per driver in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company when considering expansion or where to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Minnesota faces a significant and growing transportation funding shortfall. Due to inadequate transportation funding in the state, many needed projects that would improve conditions, expand capacity and enhance traffic safety will not move forward, at least for the next five years.

  • MnDOT projections show that the amount of funding available for maintenance and improvements to roads and highways maintained by state, county and local municipalities will decrease by 16 percent from FY 2016 to FY 2021. The chart below details the declining funds available for roads and highways maintained by MnDOT, counties and municipalities from 2016 through 2021.

 

  • MnDOT projects a $2.8 billion shortfall from fiscal year (FY) 2018 to FY 2021 in state transportation funding for state and locally maintained roads, highways and bridges in funding needed to maintain roads, highways and bridges; improve traffic safety; and, make further modernization and capacity improvements to support economic development and quality of life in Minnesota. By FY 2021, the shortfall is expected to more than double from FY 2018, reaching $835 million. The chart below details the additional amount of funding needed each year to improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, modernize the system, and provide additional capacity. 
  • The chart below details needed preservation or reconstruction projects in Duluth, Rochester, Minneapolis-St. Paul and statewide that currently lack adequate funding to start prior to 2022. These include $429-536 million in projects in Duluth, $1-1.4 billion in projects in the Twin Cities, $43-53 million in projects in Rochester and $289-383 million in projects elsewhere in the state.

  • The chart below details capacity expansion or safety projects in the Twin Cities and throughout the state that are needed but will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022. These projects include $768 million – $1.1 billion in projects in the Twin Cities area and $490-648 million in projects in other areas of the state. 

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MINNESOTA

Investment in Minnesota’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. Signed into law in December 2015, the five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The bill does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source. The nation faces a significant shortfall in needed funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process. But the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.
  • The five-year, $305 billion FAST Act will provide a boost of approximately 15 percent in national highway funding and 18 percent in national transit funding over the duration of the program, which expires in 2020.
  • In addition to federal motor fuel tax revenues, the FAST Act will also be funded by $70 billion in U.S. general funds, which will rely on offsets from several unrelated federal programs including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Customs.
  • According to the 2015 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance report submitted by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to Congress, the nation faces an $836 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements to the nation’s roads, highways and bridges.
  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety.

 TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MINNESOTA

The efficiency of Minnesota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $519 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Minnesota, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-five percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Minnesota are carried by trucks.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2015 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.

Wells Fargo Minnesota Labor Market Update: March 2017

Employers added another 5,300 jobs in March across Minnesota following February’s 6,200-job gain, which was stronger than first reported. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 3.8 percent in March.

Strong Jobs Report for Minnesota in March

Non farm payrolls were up by 5,300 jobs in Minnesota, all of which were in the private sector. Government employment was unchanged on the month. Professional & business services payrolls rose by 4,900 jobs—most of the gain was in administrative positions. Management and professional & tech services added 1,100 and 300 jobs, respectively. Mining & logging added 400 jobs in March which brings its year-to-year gain to 861 jobs, a welcome contrast from this time last year when the Iron Range was cutting positions due to the decline in commodity prices. Manufacturers also added jobs in March which brought factory payrolls above their year-ago level for the first time in nine months. Construction hiring took a breather in March but remains one of the fastest growing sectors over the year, rising 5.6 percent.

Minnesota’s household employment data improved solidly. The jobless rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 3.8 percent, after holding at 4.0 percent for seven months. The drop results from a huge 10,00o-worker rise in civilian employment, which easily outpaced labor force growth. Minnesota’s employment-population ratio rose to a cycle-high of 66.9 percent.

Personal Care and Management Occupations Top Growth

The most recent Occupational Employment data show more Minnesotans work in health care, personal care services, management and computer & mathematics than a decade ago, while there are fewer office support, sales, production and construction workers. Production and office support jobs have become increasingly vulnerable to automation. By contrast, food services saw a large jump in its share of jobs nationwide over the past ten years, but not in Minnesota. There were 60 percent more personal services workers in Minnesota in 2016 than in 2006, however, the largest increase among occupation groups. This category counts personal care aides, where demand is being driven by the state’s older population. Unfortunately, personal care services median earnings were the second lowest, besting only food services workers.

There were also strong increases among Minnesota’s high-paying jobs. Minnesota’s increase in management positions over the past decade was particularly notable, with the category adding 36,300 positions and accounting for 28.5 percent of the new jobs over the decade. Management positions are the highest paying occupation category in the state. The typical management job earned $100,290 in 2016, 2.5 times the average job. Healthcare practitioners & technical workers, which include doctors, nurses, therapists and technicians—saw the third largest increase, while computer & math jobs saw the fourth largest rise over the decade. All this is good news for Minnesota’s highly-educated workforce. Conversely, the decline in production, construction, sales and administration positions means options have narrowed for those without advanced training or qualifications, which has hindered economic mobility within the state.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor and Wells Fargo Securities