Welcome to the third edition of the FHWA Center for Local Aid Support's newsletter. We have some staff changes to share with you. I am Joe Conway, Acting Director of the Center for Local Aid Support while Victoria Peters is on special assignment for a new national initiative that FHWA is planning for 2021. I come to CLAS with a history of working with the LTAP and TTAP programs. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or feedback. I would love to hear from you on how we can best serve your needs.
Another staff change with CLAS include the loss of Hans Anker for one year to military deployment. We will certainly miss his expertise and look forward to having him rejoin the team. The good news is that we welcome Okiefe Ogbe to the team. He comes to us as a Pathways Intern. Okiefe is a student at Colorado State University and has a background in statistics and data analysis.
As always, the CLAS remains available for training and technical assistance. You can reach any of us at CLAS@dot.gov or visit our website at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/ We invite you to share this newsletter with your co-workers and peers. Here's the LINK for anyone interested in subscribing to the CLAS e-Newsletter.
Acting Director, FHWA Center for Local Aid Support
Transportation professionals in Local and Tribal agencies now have more options for professional development. The FHWA Center for Local Aid Support is pleased to announce the launch of eight eLearning modules on the Every Day Counts initiative "Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)".
The STEP modules are the first in a growing portfolio of web based training focusing on innovative technologies and hot topics. The Center for Local Aid Support is committed to empowering transportation professionals with the skills necessary to deploy new innovation that keeps transportation moving into the future. These new e-learning courses allows us to add another way to meet this commitment.
The courses are conducted 100% online and are on-demand, allowing users to learn at their own pace and on their own time. Additional topics are coming soon. The courses can be accessed on the Center for Local Aid Support website. If you have questions, please contact us at CLAS@dot.gov
In this edition:
Local Innovation– local agency articles that acknowledge local implementation success
Missing stop signs is certainly a safety hazard for drivers in Lyon County, Kansas. When someone reports a stolen or damaged stop or yield sign, county highway department employees are immediately called out to replace the sign no matter the time of day. Once workers are on the scene with an abundance of replacement materials and tools, they find the existing hole where the missing sign once stood or remove the remainder of a broken pole and replace with a new sign. "This process was time-consuming because of the time it took to gather the tools and equipment needed to replace the sign, which extended the time the intersection was left without safety signs," said Jim Brull with the Lyon County Highway Department.
Highway workers needed an easier solution to quickly replace the signs while restoring safety to the intersections. They found their solution in portable stop and yield signs. "I brought up the idea for the portable signs during a brainstorm session," said Brull. "Our Department promotes change for the better using innovation." Going portable meant less time spent replacing signs. The portable signs have adjustable height legs with extensions that can be quickly installed in various terrains using less tools. Prior to the portable signs solution, workers would have to guess which tools would be needed to install the new signs. The signs are also easily transported in pickup trucks and SUVs.
Lyon County officials say implementing use of the portable signs improved response times for temporarily replacing the signs and restoring safety at the intersections. Brull says he has advice for encouraging creativity to address challenges, "Speak openly about the issues with everyone especially the front-line workers. Be open to change, encourage innovation for improving job performance and build a great team!" For more information on the portable stop signs, contact Jim Brull with the Lyon County Highway Department at 620-340-8220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Better Data, Better Decisions
All roads lead to the need for good data to make great decisions when it comes to transportation policy. The Town of Sherburne, New York acknowledged their current records management system left them with inadequate and insufficient data accounting for department assets. They knew they needed to make a change before they could see improvements in their operations. "The biggest issue I had was taking over a road system and not knowing what was here or what condition things were actually in," said Chase Winton, Town of Sherburne's Highway Superintendent. "At first it seemed overwhelming, and I didn't really know where to start. I knew at that point that what I really needed was to be able to see the big picture."
The solution was to create a simple Asset Management System using ArcGIS to combine employee collected GPS information with spreadsheet asset data to create an interactive map. Cost to implement the system was an estimated $5000 for intern services. The ArcGIS software would have cost Sherburne $1250 but was funded through a grant. The Town of Sherburne says since implementation of the new Asset Management Data System, they are seeing major increases in data collection, improved time management and a reduction in costs. "It took roughly 8 months to a year from conception to being able to actually use it," according to Winton. His advice to others when tackling issues is to talk to your peers. He says you may not get the answer but you will probably get a piece to the puzzle and the more pieces you can put together, the clearer the puzzle becomes.
For more information on the town of Sherburne's Asset Data Management System, contact Chase Winton, Highway Superintendent, (607) 316-0165 email@example.com.
Local Agency Recognized for Innovative Problem Solving
Santa Barbara County, CA Public Works Department
Source: Santa Barbara County Public Works (Photo and Article)
The Santa Barbara County Public Works Department received top honors in the 2020 Outstanding Local Streets and Roads Project Awards. The awards program - sponsored by The League of California Cities, the County Engineers Association of California, and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) - recognizes cities and counties in California for creative and cost-effective projects that improve local streets, roads and bridges.
The Public Works Department received the award for using a tire-derived aggregate (TDA) wall to reconstruct a section of Ortega Ridge Road. Storm season weather cycles caused the material beneath the road to expand and shrink, which led to cracks, slip outs and, constant maintenance. This problem was solved by partnering with CalRecycle to use 80,000 tires as lightweight fill material to prevent the ground under the road from slipping. The pilot project was the first in the State to combine the use of TDA and a mechanically stabilized earth retaining wall. The lightweight and permeable nature of the TDA reduces loading of underlying soils subject to seasonal expansion and contraction to reduce settlement, and the MSE wall and the reinforcement grid textile supports the road. CSAC praised the project for its streamlined design and construction, reduced environmental impacts, smaller construction footprint and realized cost savings.
Public Works engineering geologist Chris Doolittle and team members worked on a solution to the problem starting in 2014, after first being involved in investigating settlement at the site over 20 years ago. Doolittle said, "Every few years, the road would settle to the point that it required our maintenance crews to install a pavement overlay to maintain the profile. In 2015, the extent of road settlement forced us to realign the road and close down to one lane of alternating traffic. After the Thomas Fire Debris Flow in 2018, this was the sole access point to Toro Canyon until bridges on State Route 192 were repaired or replaced, and only after their completion were we able to close the road and construct the project. It was through coordination with CalRecycle that this pilot project was funded and we received the technical know-how to develop and construct the project." Funding for the $665,000 construction project was provided by CalRecycle TDA Grant Funding ($110,000), TDA Pilot Project Funding ($330,000), the Santa Barbara County General Fund ($43,000), and the State Transportation SB1 Fund ($182,000). Additional construction engineering costs were reimbursed by CalRecycle's TDA Grant Funding ($36,000). The project was constructed by Raminha Construction and completed in August 2019.
Doolittle said, "I like this project because we got the departmental support to venture out away from past tried and true techniques to go for something different. This program's success means we can solve more problems with these new techniques for future projects."
To reach American familes' homes, Christmas trees do a lot of traveling. U.S. highways carry 616,500 tons of real trees, and 418,500 tons of artificial trees annually—which, if laid end-to-end, would circle the Earth twice.
Puerto Rico LTAP Celebrates 35 Years!
Source: Puerto Rico LTAP
2021 means a huge celebration for the Puerto Rico LTAP! They are ringing in the New Year with major plans for their 35th year anniversary coming up in April. Some of the planned activities include a special edition newsletter, a special publication dedicated to their instructors, and a two-hour virtual summit highlighting their accomplishments and lessons learned. The Puerto Rico LTAP is very excited about this 35th year celebration, "It is gratifying to know that we are putting a grain of sand in the transportation workforce and the future generations of our transportation professionals, promoting highway safety and innovation in transportation," says Dr. Benjamin Colucci, the Puerto Rico LTAP Director. He says their major accomplishment over 35 years is that they created a trustworthy environment with all stakeholders from local transportation officials, state and federal highway and transportation representatives.
Dr. Colucci says Other major accomplishments include the reduction of fatalities on the island since 1987 and the Puerto Rico LTAP partnerships with local universities and state and federal partners. "We are proud that we have been able to support FHWA initiatives over the years such as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program, Garrett A. Morgan initiative and Every Day Counts," says Dr. Colucci. But, a 35-year celebration does not mean the work stops.
The Puerto Rico LTAP has many goals on the horizon such as supporting transportation initiatives of the near future like Every Day Counts 6, autonomous vehicles, and virtual training summits. Dr. Colucci says their recipe for success is to build an outstanding team who is passionate about the work of the LTAP. "I have been blessed and fortunate to dedicate 35 years of my professional career to provide training and technical assistance in innovative, cost-effective, sustainable and safe solutions to local transportation officials. Through our efforts and loyal partnerships, we have saved thousands of lives in our local network of highway and streets in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."
The National Highway Institute is updating its Web-based training (WBT) catalog. Please plan to complete any WBTs in progress before December 31, 2020, to ensure that you receive credit for any WBTs you are currently working on.
The 2021 STIPDG Student Application Portal is now open! The deadline to submit an application is January 31, 2021. The Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG) provides a unique summer opportunity for college/university students to gain valuable professional experience and skills to complement students' academic pursuits. STIPDG is a paid internship program that aims to mentor and cultivate tomorrow's transportation leaders by providing students with hands-on experience and on-the-job training while working on current transportation-related topics and issues.
Please click on the link below to begin the application process.
Feel free to forward this message along to anyone who is eligible to apply for the program. If you have any questions about STIPDG, please contact Stephanie Arhin at STIPDG@dot.gov.
The Road to Success
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