Programmatic Agreements II
Programmatic agreements is a concept of establishing a streamlined approach for handling routine environmental requirements. The key is to consider repetitive actions on a programmatic basis rather than individually, project-by-project. Programmatic agreements II builds upon the initial programmatic approaches initiative of EDC by applying some of the newly developed agreements to new states or expanding them to include regions. The emphasis of these agreements will continue to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the highway development process while maintaining appropriate consideration of the environment. Through EDC2, FHWA will continue to focus on the expansion of programmatic approaches in general, but also focus on developing new or expanding existing agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Locally Administered Federal-Aid Projects
To aid Local Public Agencies (LPAs) through the complexities of the Federal-aid Highway Program’s requirements and processes, a three-pronged strategy has been developed to assist these local agencies. These three strategies include: Certification/qualification-type programs, Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) Consultant Contracts, and Stakeholder Committees. Implementation of these strategies can reduce the amount of oversight the States need to provide and make local agencies more capable to follow federal regulations and guidelines.
3D Modeling for Construction Means and Methods
3D modeling technology has been widely used by contractors on non-highway projects, and the potential for highway applications is just now being realized. An overall benefit of the technology is an increase in productivity and efficiency of construction operations. As an example, GPS-enabled construction equipment, when combined with the 3D terrain model can run all day and night while achieving accurate grades on the first pass. These technologies together can increase productivity by up to 50 percent for some operations.
Compaction is one of the most important processes in roadway construction. It is needed to achieve high quality and uniformity of pavement materials, which in turn enhances long-lasting performance. Current processes using conventional compaction machines may result in inadequate and/or non-uniform material densities, which can help bring premature failure to the pavements. Intelligent Compaction (IC) delivers a modern approach to compaction with the use of special vibratory rollers equipped with accelerometers, an integrated measurement system, a map based Global Positioning System– (GPS–), onboard display and computer reporting system. By integrating all components the use of IC rollers can accelerate projects delivery as well as improve quality. IC rollers also collect enough data to display continuous records of the number of roller passes, material stiffness measurement values, and precise location of the roller. The overall result is a more consistent pavement.
Accelerated Bridge Construction
Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) technologies allow transportation agencies to replace bridges faster – only delaying traffic during construction for hours rather than months or years – and safer, since construction workers are not working above active traffic for days on end with traditional approaches. The accelerated project times significantly reduce traffic delays and road closures and can potentially reduce project costs. And because bridges or their components are manufactured off site, in controlled environments, quality is increased and bridges last longer.
Three particular ABC technologies being promoted under EDC2 are Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES), where entire structures or their components are manufactured and assembled off site and moved into place in a matter of hours; Slide-In Bridge Construction, a construction technique for deploying PBES where a bridge is built adjacent to an old structure and slid into place once the old facility is removed; and Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil — Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS), a concept for using closely spaced geosynthetic reinforcement and granular soils as a composite material to build enhanced abutment and approach embankments for bridges.
There are three phases in conventional highway construction projects. The process begins with the design of a facility, followed by a request for contractors to bid on constructing the facility, and generally the lowest bid wins the job, and finally, the construction phase. Known as design-bid-build (DBB), the process can lead to lengthy project delays because it must be completed in sequential order and delays can occur from the lack of communication or sharing of expertise between the designer and contractor.
An alternative method, called Design Build (DB) allows the process to be accelerated dramatically. In the DB process, a State DOT identifies what it wants constructed, accepts bids and selects a contractor to assume the risk and responsibility for both the design and construction phases. With DB, agencies generally have the option of selecting a contractor based on a best-value basis; allowing DOTs to consider other factors beyond lowest price.
Construction Manager/General Contractor
Another method used to accelerate project delivery is the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) process. In this process, the project owner hires a contractor to provide feedback during the design phase, before the start of construction.
The CMGC process is broken down into two contract phases. The first contract phase, the design phase, allows the contractor to work with the designer and the project owner to identify risks, provide costs projections and refine the project schedule. Once the design phase is complete, the contractor and project owner negotiate on the price for the construction contract. If all parties are in agreement with costs then the second contract phase, the construction phase, is kicked off and construction begins. There are advantages to using the CMGC process. The contractor acts as the consultant in the design process and can offer new innovations, best practices and reduced costs and schedule risks as a result of the contractor’s years of proven experience doing the actual work. This process also allows the project owner to employ new innovations, assist in the design process, and make informed decisions regarding cost and schedule.
Alternative Technical Concepts
An Alternative Technical Concept (ATC) is a suggested change by the contractor to the contracting agency’s basic configuration design, scope, or construction criteria. The proposed concept provides a solution that is equal to or better than the requirements in the Request for Proposal document. If a proposer’s concept is acceptable to the contracting agency, the proposer may incorporate that concept in its technical and price submittal. ATCs provide competing teams with the opportunity to suggest innovative, cost-effective solutions.
High Friction Surfaces
Critical locations make up a small percentage of U.S. highways. In 2008 for example, horizontal curves made up only 5 percent of our Nation’s highway miles. Yet, more than 25 percent of fatal crashes occurred on horizontal curves. High friction surface (HFS) treatment is an emerging technology that dramatically and immediately reduces crashes and the related injuries and fatalities. With friction values far exceeding conventional pavement friction, high-quality aggregate is applied to existing or potential high-crash areas to help motorists maintain better control in dry and wet driving conditions.
Intersection and Interchange Geometrics
Intersections and interchanges are planned points at which motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists could potentially cross paths and crash or collide. Several innovative alternative geometric intersection and interchange designs are now available which reduce crossover, or conflict, points or move the conflict points away from a main intersection; allowing for safer, more continuous travel for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. FHWA studies of alternative intersection and interchange designs implemented within the last few years show an immediate and significant reduction in the number of total crashes, injury crashes and fatal crashes (up to 53, 42 and 70 percent respectively).
Roundabouts, diverging diamond interchanges (DDIs) and intersections with displaced left-turns or variations on U-turns are proving to be a few of the effective alternatives to traditional designs.
Geospatial Data Collaboration
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a tool that builds maps. Currently, most GISs and web-mapping applications at Federal, State and local agencies are housed internally. Building on current organizational and technical capabilities, this initiative will use innovative cloud-based GIS services to improve data sharing both within transportation agencies and among project delivery stakeholders. Collaborative analyses and rapid updating of shared common maps will lead to faster consensus building and improved decision-support.
Implementing Quality Environmental Documentation
This initiative seeks to implement existing recommendations and recent experience to improve the quality and, at the same time, reduce the size of NEPA documents. The initiative improves the quality of NEPA documents by making them more effective in disclosing the information used as a basis for making project decisions to the public and participating agencies including regulatory agencies who have permitting or review responsibilities. By improving the quality and readability of NEPA Documents, FHWA and project proponents will accelerate project delivery and achieve better environmental outcomes. The initiative will promote recent best practice experience and build upon prior efforts, including recommendations from the May 2006 Report "Improving the Quality of Environmental Documents" – A Report of the Joint AASHTO/ACEC Committee in Cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration.
First Responder Training
Traffic incidents, including crashes, disabled vehicles and debris on the road create unsafe driving conditions. They put motorist and responder lives at risk and account for approximately 25 percent of all traffic delays. For each minute that a freeway travel lane is blocked during peak use, an estimated 4 minutes of delay result after the incident is cleared. This estimate accounts for 4.2 billion hours per year in delays and more than 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline wasted every year while vehicles are stuck in incident-related traffic.
This initiative offers the first national, multi-disciplinary traffic incident management (TIM) process and training program. The unique training for first responders promotes a shared understanding of the requirements for safe, quick clearance at traffic incident scenes; prompt, reliable and open communications; and motorist and responder safeguards.