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Federal Lands Innovation

40 Years of Innovation

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  1. 1975

    Steel Backed Timber guardrail

    Steel Backed Timber guardrail The early concept design for Steel Backed Timber guardrail can be traced back to 1975. An aesthetic barrier solution was desired by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the Fighting Creek Gap emergency relief-funded project along TN State Route 73. A steel-backed timber "guide-rail" was designed and detailed along the top of a reinforced earth retaining wall, the first design of an aesthetic barrier and wall combination. The design was detailed by structural engineers at Federal Lands Highway prior to crash test performance standards.

  2. 1977

    First in the U.S. Reticulated Root Pile Structure

    Reticulated Root Pile Structure

    In 1977, the Federal Lands Highway installed a Reticulated Root Pile Structure to stabilize a landslide on the Forest Highway 7 (State Route 162), Mendocino Pass Road, in the Mendocino National Forest, CA. The installation proved successful in preventing the roadway from failing during the disastrous storms of 1982-83. Installed at an angle and in a 3-dimensional circular network, these root piles eventually lead FHWA to formalize design procedures for micropiles.

  3. 1980

    Solar heated asphalt storage tank

    Solar heated asphalt storage tank After eruption of Mt. St. Helens volcano happened in May 1980 Federal Lands Highway evaluated different techniques for volcanic ash dust abatement and removal. Numerous technology demonstrations projects occurred during this year, a good one to highlight is the solar heated asphalt storage tank demonstration that showed how the system achieved conservation of electrical power.

  4. 1981

    Sulfur extended asphalt and Breakaway barricades

    Sulfur extended asphalt and Breakaway barricades Federal Lands Highway provided guidance on using Internally Sealed Concrete in the Dulles Airport Access Project. The method protects bridge decks from deterioration by using special wax beads as a part of the mix in the upper lift. After curing, heating blankets melt the wax beads to seal the pores in the concrete and protect the deck from chloride intrusion.

  5. 1984

    Self Restoring Barrier

    Self Restoring Barrier Self Restoring Barrier piloted on the George Washington Memorial Parkway

  6. 1986

    Soil bioengineering

    Soil bioengineering Soil bioengineering utilizing willow cuttings at four sites in the Cumberland Gap National Park to provide stable and aesthetic creek bank protection

  7. 1987

    Coordinated Technology Implementation Program

    CTIP The Coordinated Technology Implementation Program (CTIP) was established in 1987 to improve the Federal Lands Highway programs through mutually funded and developed projects to deploy innovative, unique, or under-used transportation technology. The initial supported Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMAs) included the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Forest Service (FS), and the National Park Service (NPS). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were included in 1999 and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Land Management were added under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

  8. 1988

    Native Plant Relocation

    Native Plant Relocation In 1988, cacti (Saguaro, Barrel, and Ocotillo) unique to the Sonoran Desert found in the FLH's General Hitchcock Highway project clearing limits in the Coronado National Forest, Arizona were salvaged, transported, stored, and then transplanted. A cactus consultant was used to minimize plant mortality. This method of cactus salvage was then used on subsequent projects in the roadway corridor.

  9. 1993

    First U.S. Multi-arch Segmental Bridge

    Multi-arch Segmental Bridge The last segment of the Natchez Trace Parkway's Double Arch Bridge was put into place on October 6, 1993. The $11 million, 1,572-foot-long bridge carries the parkway over Route 96 near Franklin, Tennessee. Engineers had to figure out how to elevate the bridge over Route 96 and the densely wooded valley below while preserving the natural beauty of the site. It was the first precast segmental concrete arch bridge to be built in the United States.

  10. 1994

    Amended the Endangered Species Act

    Multi-arch Segmental Bridge In 1994, the US Fish & Wildlife amended the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to list the North American Desert Tortoise as endangered. However prior to that in 1993, the FLH started road work on the Lake Shore Drive of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada, which was in the 6.4 million acres of identified Desert Tortoise critical habitat. The FLH required all workers and visitors to attend on-site tortoise training, implemented a trash control program to protect the tortoise, and after surveying the area for tortoise, installed for the first time temporary Tortoise Fence Barriers to channel the reptiles to culverts under the roadway. This eventually led the US Fish & Wildlife to develop specifications in 2005 to standardize fence materials and construction procedures to confine tortoises or exclude them from harmful situations, primarily roads and highways.

  11. 1996

    Internet Connectivity

    Internet Connectivity First Internet connection and installation of an Internet homepage and FTP server that improved communications with partners, contractors, consultants and support vendors.

  12. 1997

    Concrete-steel arch composite bridge

    Concrete-steel arch composite bridge Once again, U.S. is first! The design of the first concrete-steel arch composite bridge in the U.S began in 1997 for the Hoover Dam Bypass. The twin-ribbed arch is the widest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. At 880 feet, over the Colorado River it is the second highest bridge in the United States and the highest concrete-arch bridge anywhere.

  13. 2002

    Rustic Asphalt Pavement

    Rustic Asphalt Pavement Rustic pavement is an approach to satisfying our partners' concerns regarding aesthetics and preservation of historical character. And that exactly what Federal Lands Highway provided in front of the most iconic home in the United States. The rustic pavement is based upon a transparent, amber colored synthetic binder that substitutes for asphalt in hot asphalt concrete pavement.

  14. 2006


    Rockery In 2006, FLH developed for the first time a rational design methodology and stability evaluation that enabled certification of rockery design plans by engineers. The first structure built under these standards was on Guanella Pass in the Arapaho and Roosevelt NF.

  15. 2007

    Warm Mix Asphalt

    Warm Mix Asphalt Before Every Day Counts, Federal Lands Highway demonstrated in 2007 the use of warm mix asphalt in Yellowstone National Park. The pilot evaluated two different WMA technologies and established the foundation for development of our specifications, practices, and uses of WMA on other projects.

  16. 2008

    Reservation Road Planner

    Reservation Road Planner This game has been effective in increasing the availability of user-friendly information regarding the transportation planning process. It has also enabled the tribal community to understand the challenges associated with highway planning and to become more engaged in transportation planning projects in their community.

  17. 2011

    Steel Backed Timber End Terminal

    Steel Backed Timber End Terminal In 2011, the Federal Lands Highway finalized its design and tested the Steel Backed Timber Guardrail Tangent End Terminal. The first installation was on the National Park's Rock Creek Parkway.

  18. 2015

    Aesthetically Pleasing Rockery Stream Restoration

    Rockery Stream Restoration In 2015 the FLH introduced a new innovation to their 2006 first-use-Rockery geotechnical designs, that of stabilizing river embankment. Adding to their engineered Rockeries, they identified in-stream hydrodynamic shear stresses for areas horizontally constricted such as narrow mountain canyons. Deployed for the first time as embankment protection in the river next to Colorado's County Road 36, these near-vertical Rockeries replaced conventional 1:1.5 riprap revetments giving the roadway wider room and saving an estimated $1,000,000 in rock cuts.

  19. 2016

    Grouted Riprap Foundation Block

    Rockery Stream Restoration In 2016 the FLH produced engineered design plans for a buried Rockery bridge foundation support and deployed it on Colorado's County Road 43 and Lefthand Canyon, and New Mexico's Catwalk projects. Placed near or below the estimated scour depth these buried foundations provide sufficient support regardless of bridge abutment type. Designed as engineered Rockeries (see 2006), these grouted foundations that meet AASHTO spread footing criteria, are fast and easy to install, and offer design and construction flexibility and adaptability for varying field geotechnical and weather conditions. The adjustable design allows construction to proceed even while the bridge abutment is under design and the bridge superstructure is being ordered.

  20. 2019

    Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners

    Scenic Bikeways With rural agencies experiencing an increase in recreational bicyclists sharing the road with motorists, opportunities exist to pro-actively plan for and provide safe scenic corridors. By following an intentional process, agency goals to enhance visitor experience can be met when bicyclists are attracted to these tourist destinations. As a Federal Lands Highway sponsored toolkit, this Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners assists land management agencies, road owners, and proponent groups to communicate and work together in a positive way to develop bikeways. Other topics include rural road safety, bikeway designation, and liability of bikeway designation. Used as a specific example, rural road owners across the country see how to navigate the Oregon Scenic Bikeway Designation Process.

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