November 2017

Minnesota Implements County Roadway Safety Plans for All Counties

Winner of a National Roadway Safety Award


Minnesota was awarded 1 of 9 National Roadway Safety Awards on November 15 in Washington, D.C. The awards, a biennial competition which began in 1999, are a partnership of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation. They acknowledge successful approaches to improving roadway safety at the state and local level.

The Safety Problem: County roads in Minnesota account for half of all fatal crashes, but less than a quarter of vehicle-miles traveled in the state

The Solution: Development and implementation of County Road Safety Plans (CRSP) for all 87 Minnesota counties, emphasizing low-cost, systemic improvements over high-cost spot treatments

The Result: 330 low-cost, proactive safety improvements on the county road network, and a 25% reduction in the county road fatality rate during the four-year period following the CRSP process


County roads account for half of the total number of fatal crashes in Minnesota, but only handle 24% of the total vehicle miles traveled in the state. Therefore, in an effort to improve roadway safety and save lives, Minnesota embarked on an ambitious effort in 2010 to develop and implement County Road Safety Plans (CRSPs) for all 87 counties. Counties then implement improvement measures based on plan recommendations.

As a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota counties, the primary mission of the CRSPs was to improve the process for identifying safety issues by decreasing the burden on counties to complete a roadway risk analysis, select low-cost proven strategies, and submit complete and accurate projects to the HSIP solicitation with the goal of increasing the number of implemented projects.

Wayne Sandberg, PE, Washington County Engineer/Deputy Director for Public Works, accepted the award on behalf of the Minn. County Engineers Association.

L-R: Gregory Cohen, PE, Roadway Safety Foundation Executive Director; Wayne Sandberg, PE; Brandye Hendrickson, FHWA Acting Administrator, and Beth Alicandri, FHWA Associate Administrator for Safety.


The CRSPs were built on the systemic approach to rural highway safety. This approach utilized risk as the basis for safety investment decisions rather than actual crash history. The focus of the CRSPs was the implementation of proactive, low-cost safety strategies on a system-wide basis rather than reactive, higher-cost safety projects at fewer locations. This proactive approach allows for funding allocation and countermeasure implementation based on roadway conditions or risk factors that make fatal and serious injuries likely to occur.

Implementation of low-cost, proactive safety improvements on the county road network (330 projects funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program for a total of $80 million) resulted in a 25% reduction in the county highway fatality rate during the four-year period following the CRSP process. More importantly, evidence suggests that the CRSPs are making a difference in saving lives and helping in the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths drive.

"These awards recognize real and innovative solutions to some of the nation's biggest safety challenges," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. "We commend this year's winners for their efforts in saving lives on our nation's roads, and invite others across the country to put these life-saving solutions to work."

Read the List of Winners and details on their roadway safety innovations.

This year's judges were from a variety of disciplines.

This year's judges were from a variety of disciplines.

King W. Gee, Director of Engineering andTechnical Services, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 
Mike Griffith, Director, FHWA's Office of Safety Technologies 
Bruce Hamilton, Director of Safety and Research Programs, Roadway Safety Foundation 
Bernardo Kleiner, Senior Program Officer/Transportation Safety Specialist, Transportation Research Board 
Jennifer Smith, Director, Image and Brands, Michelin 
Dr. Marie Walsh, Director, Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) 
Terecia Wilson, Senior Fellow, Clemson University Institute for Global Road Safety and Security

Wayne Sandberg, PE, with Rebecca Page, NACE Director of Marketing.

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