Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Project selection

Increasing the transparency of how we select highway construction projects

How MnDOT scores and selects urban pavement projects

MnDOT scores stretches of highway based on a pavement need when selecting projects to include in the Capital Highway Investment Plan. The selection of pavement projects is informed by district staff, experts from MnDOT’s materials office and the Highway Pavement Management Application (HPMA). MnDOT’s approach to managing pavements follows the guidance and targets in the Transportation Asset Management Plan and the planned outcomes in the 20-year Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP).

MnDOT’s statewide performance measures for pavements are based on the Ride Quality Index (RQI), which uses a zero to five rating scale to measure the smoothness of driving on a road. Roads with an RQI greater than 3.0 are considered in good condition, between 2.1 and 3.0 in fair condition, and 2.0 or less in poor condition.

Given their complexity, utilities and other infrastructure and level of required local coordination and public involvement, MnDOT scores and prioritizes urban non-freeway/non-expressway pavement needs separately from the normal pavement scoring process. Learn more about how MnDOT scores non-urban pavement needs.

Freeways have full access control (no driveways, signals or at-grade intersections). Expressways have partial access control (limited or no driveways, few and widely spaced intersections, and may include some grade separated crossings). Both are high speed roads designed to facilitate longer trips.
These urban pavement projects can be either NHS or non-NHS.

Once selected, MnDOT then identifies and evaluates alternatives and other needs, legal requirements, issues and opportunities in coordination with local partners, and considers public input. In the process, non-pavement work may be added to a pavement project or a pavement project may be combined with a nearby bridge project. The department follows a context-sensitive complete streets approach, which considers the needs of all users. The final project may address a substantial number of needs beyond the pavement need that precipitated the project. Projects may move years based on local coordination, project delivery, timing of other nearby construction projects, and funding shifts.

Project identification

Potential urban pavement projects are identified by the HPMA decision tree and by district staff.

Definition of urban

For the purposes of scoring urban pavement needs, MnDOT uses a flexible, context-based definition of urban. This includes areas with medium-to-high density adjacent development with small to medium setbacks, and in some instances no setback. This includes both residential, industrial and commercial areas. Presence or lack thereof of curb and gutter or incorporation are not included in this definition. In some instances, the urban context may be very short (less than a half a mile).

Projects requiring scoring

Districts can identify potential projects for any stretch of urban road, but at a minimum, potential projects will be developed and scored for all roads with RQIs forecasted to be 2.5 or lower (Remain Service Life=0) and a Surface Rating (SR) of 3.0 or less in year 10 of the CHIP being developed. RQI alone is less reliable in urban areas as the measure is based on higher speed roads (>50 miles per hour) and may overestimate the need for pavement rehabilitation or replacement.
Chip seals, patching and crack sealing are not scored.

Scoring criteria and weights

Urban pavement projects are scored and selected within each district.

Criteria Points Available Scoring Rubric
Timing of the Improvement 25 See table below for details
Cracking, Patching & Rutting 25 Forecasted Surface Rating:
<2.1 – 25 points
2.1-2.4 – 20 points
2.5-3.0 – 10 points
>3.0 – 0 points
Other MnDOT Infrastructure 10 District assessment based on age, condition rating and inspection history of storm drains, catch basins, culverts, fiber optic and other cables, and other roadside infrastructure.
Local Utilities 5 Documented local utility need and/or cast iron or clay pipes – 5 points
ADA 10 Documented ADA non-compliant sidewalk, curbs and/or signals – 10 points
Substantially, but not fully compliant and/or previous investments to address ADA, but PROWAG has changed the geometric requirements since then – 5 points
AADT 10 Projects with AADTs equal to or greater than 10,000 in Greater MN and 25,000 in Metro receive full points.
Below those values, points are assigned as a percent of those values rounded down to the nearest point. Example AADT of 14,000 in Metro: 14,000/25,000 X 10 points = 5.6 points rounded down to 5 points.
Active Transportation and Transit 10 See below for scoring details
Benefits  Environmental Justice Population 5 Adjacent census tracks have more than 30% EJ population in Metro and more than 20% in Greater MN

Scoring project timing

For the purposes of scoring, MnDOT will use the forecasted length-weighted RQI for the year anticipated for programming the project. Default is year 10 of the CHIP being developed.

Type of Fix Assumed for Programming Purposes RQI 0.1-0.5 RQI 0.6-1.0 RQI 1.1-1.5 RQI 1.6-2.0 RQI 2.1-2.5 RQI 2.6-3.0 RQI 3.1-3.3 RQI >3.3
Thin Overlay, Diamond Grinding, Minor CPR 0 points 0 points 0 points 0 points 10 points 20 points 20 points 10 points
Rehab, Medium Mill and Overlay, Major CPR, Thick Overlay 10 points 15 points 20 points 25 points 25 points 20 points 5 points 0 points
Reconstruct, Reclaim, Cold In-Place Recycling, Regrade, Unbonded Overlay 25 points 25 points 25 points 25 points 20 points 10 points 0 points 0 points

Scoring active transportation and transit

Points can be earned for active transportation and transit for a variety of factors listed below. The maximum score a potential project can earn is 10 points.

  • Non-motorized safety risk factors: each intersection with 4 or more risk factors – 5 points
  • Fixed route transit with stations/stops on the corridor – 5 points
    • If Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail Transit or other rapid transit planned or operational on the corridor – 10 points
  • Corridor designated or planned as a state bikeway or Regional Bicycle Transportation Network (RBTN)  (in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area) and/or specific improvements identified on the corridor in a Safe Routes to School Plan, Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan or other Active Transportation Plan – 5 points
  • A trail, regional bikeway or RBTN crosses the corridor at grade – 3 points
  • Approximate percentage of the community destinations and neighborhoods divided by the state highway:
    • 0% – 0 points
    • 1-10% - 1 Point
    • 11-20% - 2 Points
    • 21-30% - 3 points
    • 31-40% - 4 points
    • 41-50% - 5 Points

Factors not included in scoring

MnDOT considers a wide range of factors when selecting projects. These include considerations specific to individual projects as well as system level performance targets and guidance. Not all are included in the score.

Examples of reasons why a high-scoring project wouldn’t be picked

  • Waiting to coordinate with another project
  • Cost is greater than total available budget for year
  • Waiting to avoid simultaneous or multiple years of detours in the same area
  • Local partner not ready to participate at this time
  • Project not identified or prioritized in the metropolitan transportation plan or studies (for projects within MPO planning areas)
  • Significant environmental process needs to be completed or more work needed to identify and resolve environmental constraints

Examples of reasons why a lower scoring project would be picked

  • RQI forecast doesn’t reflect on the ground conditions or expectations
  • Ongoing maintenance concerns
  • City, county or tribal government has funding for a specific year
  • Turnback agreement in place
  • To coordinate with the timing of another MnDOT or local project