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Highways for LIFE

Arrow Iowa Demonstration Project: Accelerated Bridge Construction on US 6 over Keg Creek


Highways for LIFE Demonstration Projects

The Highways for LIFE (HfL) pilot program, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) initiative to accelerate innovation in the highway community, provides incentive funding for demonstration construction projects. Through these projects, the HfL program promotes and documents improvements in safety, construction-related congestion, and quality that can be achieved by setting performance goals and adopting innovations.

The HfL program—described in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)—may provide incentives to a maximum of 15 demonstration projects a year. The funding amount may total up to 20 percent of the project cost, but not more than $5 million. Also, the Federal share for an HfL project may be up to 100 percent, thus waiving the typical State-match portion. At the State’s request, a combination of funding and waived match may be applied to a project.

To be considered for HfL funding, a project must involve constructing, reconstructing, or rehabilitating a route or connection on an eligible Federal-aid highway. It must use innovative technologies, manufacturing processes, financing, or contracting methods that improve safety, reduce construction congestion, and enhance quality and user satisfaction. To provide a target for each of these areas, HfL has established demonstration project performance goals.

The performance goals emphasize the needs of highway users and reinforce the importance of addressing safety, congestion, user satisfaction, and quality in every project. The goals define the desired result while encouraging innovative solutions, raising the bar in highway transportation service and safety. User-based performance goals also serve as a new business model for how highway agencies can manage the project delivery process.

HfL project promotion involves showing the highway community and the public how demonstration projects are designed and built and how they perform. Broadly promoting successes encourages more widespread application of performance goals and innovations in the future.

Project Solicitation, Evaluation, and Selection

FHWA issued open solicitations for HfL project applications in fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. State highway agencies submitted applications through FHWA Divisions. The HfL team reviewed each application for completeness and clarity, and then contacted applicants to discuss technical issues and obtain commitments on project issues. Documentation of these questions and comments was sent to applicants, who responded in writing.

The project selection panel consisted of representatives of the FHWA offices of Infrastructure, Safety, and Operations; the Resource Center Construction and Project Management team; the Division offices; and the HfL team. After evaluating and rating the applications and supplemental information, panel members convened to reach a consensus on the projects to recommend for approval. The panel gave priority to projects that accomplish the following:

  • Address the HfL performance goals for safety, construction congestion, quality, and user satisfaction.
  • Use innovative technologies, manufacturing processes, financing, contracting practices, and performance measures that demonstrate substantial improvements in safety, congestion, quality, and cost-effectiveness. An innovation must be one the applicant State has never or rarely used, even if it is standard practice in other States.
  • Include innovations that will change administration of the State’s highway program to more quickly build long-lasting, high-quality, cost-effective projects that improve safety and reduce congestion.
  • `Will be ready for construction within 1 year of approval of the project application. For the HfL program, FHWA considers a project ready for construction when the FHWA Division authorizes it.
  • Demonstrate the willingness of the applicant department of transportation (DOT) to participate in technology transfer and information dissemination activities associated with the project.

HfL Project Performance Goals

The HfL performance goals focus on the expressed needs and wants of highway users. They are set at a level that represents the best of what the highway community can do, not just the average of what has been done. States are encouraged to use all applicable goals on a project:

  • Safety
    • Work zone safety during construction—Work zone crash rate equal to or less than the preconstruction rate at the project location.
    • Worker safety during construction—Incident rate for worker injuries of less than 4.0, based on incidents reported on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300.
    • Facility safety after construction—Twenty percent reduction in fatalities and injuries in 3-year average crash rates, using preconstruction rates as the baseline.
  • Construction Congestion
    • Faster construction—Fifty percent reduction in the time highway users are impacted, compared to traditional methods.
    • Trip time during construction—Less than 10 percent increase in trip time compared to the average preconstruction speed, using 100 percent sampling.
    • Queue length during construction—A moving queue length of less than 0.5 mile (mi) (0.8 kilometer (km)) in a rural area or less than 1.5 mi (2.4 km) in an urban area (in both cases at a travel speed 20 percent less than the posted speed).
  • Quality
    • Smoothness—International Roughness Index (IRI) measurement of less than 48 inches per mile.
    • Noise—Tire-pavement noise measurement of less than 96.0 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)), using the onboard sound intensity (OBSI) test method.
    • User satisfaction—An assessment of how satisfied users are with the new facility compared to its previous condition and with the approach used to minimize disruption during construction. The goal is a measurement of 4-plus on a 7-point Likert scale.

Report Scope and Organization

This report documents the Iowa DOT’s HfL demonstration project featuring innovative bridge replacement of the US 6 bridge over Keg Creek. The report presents project details relevant to the HfL program, including bridge replacement and construction highlights, accelerated bridge construction (ABC) methods and materials, HfL performance metrics measurement, and economic analysis. The report also discusses the technology transfer activities that took place during the project and lessons learned.

More Information



Mary Huie
Center for Accelerating Innovation

Updated: 12/12/2012

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration