March 2013

Transportation investments: study shines light on economic impacts


Photo courtesy Robin Elstad, MnDOT

Transportation investment has long been a popular strategy for promoting economic development at the state and local levels. As funding has become tighter in recent years, however, DOTs and other public works organizations have begun to sharpen their focus to determine where and how resources should be deployed to yield the greatest returns. In a study funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, U of M researchers examined two recent highway improvement projects to evaluate the potential of transportation investment for boosting private economic activity.

Keeping roadsides green with salt-tolerant turfgrass


Road salt is an important weapon for fighting ice and snow, but it also can be deadly to roadside turfgrass. After a number of failed sod installations in recent years, the Minnesota Department of Transportation turned to researchers in the Department of Horticultural Science to identify turfgrass mixes that could tolerate the salt and harsh conditions on Minnesota roadsides. Under a four-year grant, researchers have been testing hundreds of grasses and mixtures—and have already discovered better grasses than those currently in use. 

Games in the classroom: teaching transportation planning with board games


A graduate-level transportation planning class may be the last place you expect to find board games—but according to University of Minnesota researchers, using games in the classroom can actually help students learn. In a new Transportation Research Record article, Arthur Huang and David Levinson of the Department of Civil Engineering show how they have incorporated transportation board games in their classrooms to help students learn key transportation planning concepts.

Developers and business leaders share ideas for transit-oriented development

The ability of transitways to create sustainable regional development hinges on location decisions made by the private sector. What can policymakers do to spur this development? University researchers interviewed Twin Cities developers and business leaders to find out. The research is funded by Corridors of Opportunity, a broad-based initiative to accelerate the build-out of a regional transit system for the Twin Cities in ways that advance economic development and ensure people of all incomes and backgrounds share in the resulting opportunities.

Publication Credits

  • Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis
  • Managing Editor: Pamela Snopl
  • Editors: Christine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy
  • Designer: Cadie Adhikary
  • Student Interns: Kristin Havercamp, Nicola Losik

Tell Us What You Think

So how do you like the new publication? To share your feedback and ideas, please send us an e-mail at

Catalyst is a publication of the Center for Transportation Studies University of Minnesota.