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Highways for LIFE

ArrowQuotes from Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters

Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference

Tuesday, October 26, 2004, 9:30 a.m., Greater Columbus Convention Center
Columbus, Ohio

Highways for LIFE

We've got to leap, not creep, as we build mega-projects and every other project as well. That is why we need a FHWA program called Highways for LIFE.

FHWA proposed the Highways for LIFE (HfL) pilot program to build highways and bridges safer, faster, and better.

LIFE is an acronym for Long Lasting, Innovative Fast Construction of Efficient and Safe Highway Infrastructure.

The HfL pilot program involves incentives for construction projects, partnerships with industry, extensive technology transfer, education, training, and communication initiatives.

Highways for LIFE supports key FHWA goals of improving safety, reducing congestion due to construction, and raising the quality of highway infrastructure.

Together with state and local governments and with industry, we want to accelerate the movement of proven innovations into routine practice - to bring about that leap forward in highway construction practices.

Although we are still waiting for Congress to enact a multi-year reauthorization for surface transportation, which would include the HfL initiative, there is much we are doing to prepare the way.

We have received so much encouragement from you and other partners that we believe now is the time to identify technologies and innovations and to share success stories.

So we're beginning the "Getting Started" phase.

Getting Started/Core Messages

There are three core messages to Highways for LIFE as we "Get Started."

Leadership - Our highway system is at a crossroads. Leadership and action are needed now.

Innovations - Taking advantage of innovations that are already out there is the key.

Benefits - We can build highways faster, safer, longer lasting, and at less cost. We must get more value for every transportation dollar.

Delivering Technology

Perhaps you saw the May/June edition of PUBLIC ROADS magazine.

When we started researching that issue, we wanted to find a few examples of projects and practices directly aligned with HfL principles.

Within two days, we had more than 35 projects in almost as many states. And that was by no means a comprehensive list.

- At the Highway 67/167 construction site in north Little Rock, Arkansas (where I visited in June), the contractor is using high strength, longer-lasting concrete, higher-visibility road markings, and special, weather-resistant bridge steel that won't need painting for 50 years.

- In Ohio, ODOT cut construction time by more than half on six bridge projects last year by using its strategic initiative: "Build Bridges Faster, Smarter, Better." Your state has applied many bridge deck overlays in Cleveland and Cincinnati by closing traffic on major interstate routes after the Friday evening rush hour and opening the bridges before the Monday morning rush, thereby minimizing the impact on traffic during rehabilitation.

You may have heard about the market-ready technologies these innovative projects represent. There are 28 specific technologies that we feel are most important, and we want to move those first.

Among them are Load and Resistance Factor Design and Rating of Structures, Quick Zone software for estimating and analyzing length of lines and delays in work zones, and Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems.

It's one thing to say, "Leap, not creep." It's another to come up with ways of enhancing the process of technology delivery.

We're developing a plan for delivering technologies through marketing, presentations, training, and other means.

Talking about technology transfer is nothing new. What's different is that it's not just a project here and there, but on every project.

We have asked our FHWA Divisions to take an active roll in working with State DOTs and with all of you to bring these opportunities to reality.

We have a small team in Washington DC that is leading the Highways for LIFE initiative. They are committed to making a difference.

Stakeholder involvement is absolutely critical.

Highways for LIFE is something we want to do WITH highway stakeholders, not TO them.

Federal Highways does not build bridges and highways. But we have a leadership role as we encourage the highway community.

Ohio is a big part of that community. You build the infrastructure. You capture the innovation and make it real.

Your state has a lot to gain - you can be more productive, manage your resources better, private firms can even improve profits.

More Information



Scott Wolf
Center for Accelerating Innovation

Updated: 04/04/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration