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Fall Conference Shares Thought-Provoking Sessions, Speakers

December 12, 2013

Fall Conference Shares Thought-Provoking Sessions, Speakers

By David Juliff, Conference Planning Committee

“The problem with mediocrity is that you get used to it.”

This thought-provoking statement from Professor Roberto Ballarini set the tone for the more than 500 attendees at the opening session of the 2013 APWA Minnesota Chapter Fall Conference, held at the Earle Brown Center in Brooklyn Center November 21-22, 2013.

While infrastructure seems to regularly take a back seat to other needs, Ballarini explained why it is so important that we maintain what we have and add what we need -- reminding us that great civilizations require reliable and inspirational infrastructure.

Rep. Alice Hausman followed Ballarini’s presentation with an update on her efforts in the Legislature to support infrastructure funding.

Most of the conference’s concurrent sessions provided tips and information on how to use technology that enables us to work more efficiently, how to finance some of our infrastructure needs, and development of innovative construction materials/methods for paving, storm water management and maintenance.

General sessions covered equally diverse subject matter:

  • MnDOT’s Deputy Commissioner/COO/CFO Tracy Hatch provided an update on Minnesota GO (MnDOT’s 50 year vision), the $50 billion gap in funding over the next 20 years, and what MnDOT is doing to try to mitigate the effects of this gap.
  • The importance of freight, passenger, and light rail transportation to the region, the significant growth observed (with more expected), and the competing interests in the rail corridors in the state and the country (presented by Dan Krom and Dave Christianson of MnDOT and Mark Fuhrmann of the Metropolitan Council).
  • Steve Maki of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority updated attendees on the new Multi-Purpose Stadium planning efforts, design, construction, and possible uses along with some of the innovative materials being used on this nearly $1 billion project that will employ nearly 15,000 construction workers over the next two years.
  • Mark Ray, City of Golden Valley, along with Don Elwood and Mike Kennedy, City of Minneapolis, presented an entertaining and informative overview on the use of technology (iPads and applications) for various uses in the field -- improving our ability to communicate more effectively and complete our work more efficiently. Construction observation, pedestrian ramp condition documentation, and snow plow operations were just some of the uses discussed.
  • Dan Gage provided information on the work to date of Minnesota2050 (a coalition of Minnesota engineering and infrastructure organizations dedicated to raising awareness of the needs for a reliable infrastructure). Dan also showed a powerful trailer for an upcoming documentary series on the importance of infrastructure and what it means to our quality of life and business. The first installment of this series will be shown on Twin Cities Public Television sometime in 2014. For more information on Minnesota 2050 and how to donate to this worthwhile cause visit

Thanks to everyone who made our 2013 Fall Conference a success  -- the Executive, Education, Membership, Awards and Planning Committees, and most importantly the vendors and attendees of the conference.

Attendees heard about innovations in maintaining infrastructure, learned about opportunities for improving facilities for the future, honored fellow members for their contributions to the association and community, and interacted with their peers in the industry. While there is always more work to be done, it is apparent that we are not content with mediocrity.

Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2014 Fall Conference, scheduled for November 20-21, 2014!

See photos of award winners and photos from the conference in the Photo Gallery.

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