Transportation employees who work alongside roads and behind the wheels of maintenance vehicles can offer valuable perspectives on worthwhile projects, according to panelists gathered to discuss innovation at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting Jan. 15.

Mindy Heinkel, a research manager within the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Maintenance, said the success of safety projects often relies on the input and experiences of front-line employees. Heinkel herself used to do field work for the agency, performing tasks such as operating heavy machinery, patching roads and repairing guardrails.

MnDOT runs initiatives, including the Maintenance Operation Research (MOR) program and the New Technology Research and Equipment Committee (NTREC), to identify and develop effective maintenance procedures. Heinkel said the agency uses a “bottom-up” approach to engage with employees for ideas.

“That is really effective,” Heinkel said. “Who better to improve the work environments than the people who are out there on the road getting their boots dirty?” Click here to continue reading…

Credit: Eleanor Lamb | Transport Topics

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