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Newsletter - Spring 2021

Fourth Edition—March 2021
Welcome!
Hi everyone,
Welcome to our latest edition of the Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) Newsletter. Our team has been very busy working on changes to the Tribal Technical Assistance program; development of the LTAP Strategic Plan; preparations for 2021 Build a Better Mousetrap National Recognition Program; and plans for a re-start of the CLAS Innovation Exchange webinars. Joe Conway
We would like to thank the LTAPs in every state for submitting their 2020 Performance Assessment Report (PAR) data. We have been analyzing the data and one of the most positive outcomes during last year was the ability of the LTAPs to quickly transition to online training. There was a significant increase in online training. We also found that some of the top program areas for training included Work Zone Safety; Infrastructure Management; Roadway Safety; Construction and Maintenance; and Workforce Development.
Our team continues to pour through the information and will share more in the near future. We are particularly looking at items where FHWA can provide a more targeted focus for technical assistance and training this year. We invite you to visit our website at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/ and subscribe here for email updates. Please feel free to contact us with your questions and feedback at CLAS@dot.gov.
Sincerely,
Joe Conway
Director, FHWA Center for Local Aid Support
FHWA is taking nominations for 2021. Deadline June 11th
The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Center for Local Aid Support is excited to announce the 2021 Build a Better Mousetrap season. Build a Better Mousetrap recognizes local agencies across the country who are using innovation to solve transportation-related problems that improve safety and efficiency at a cost savings. This year’s FHWA categories include:
1. Innovative Project—Any solution that addresses any or all phase(s) of the ‘project’ life cycle: planning, design/engineering, construction, operations and maintenance. This project shall introduce new ideas, is locally relevant, original, and creative in thinking.
2. Bold Steps—Any locally relevant high-risk project or process showing a break-through solution with demonstrated high-reward.
3. Smart Transformation—A locally relevant significant change in any transportation activity or process that is SMART “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound” in nature that results in improved efficiencies.
4. Pioneer—A locally relevant product/tool that is among the first to solve a maintenance problem with a home-grown solution.
Any state and local agencies interested in participating in the 2021 Build a Better Mousetrap can contact their representative LTAP Center for more information and visit: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/babm/
FHWA is on Social Media
FHWA is taking nominations for 2021. Deadline June 11th
cone icon In this edition...
Local Innovation—local agency articles that acknowledge local implementation success
News & Happenings—important info on news and events taking place
Bulletin Board—includes various news, resources, programs, and/or initiatives taking place in transportation that may benefit you
LTAP Highlight
About CLAS
Local Innovation
A Transport Made Easier

Arapahoe County, CO

Image:  Glass Grid Dispenser, Arapahoe County, CO Road and Bridge
Image: Glass Grid Dispenser, Arapahoe County, CO, Road and Bridge

A solution for fixing wide cracks in asphalt pavement needed a solution of its own. Arapahoe County uses glass grid material as an added layer of extra strength when repairing wide cracks in asphalt pavement. Douglas Stern with Arapahoe County, Colorado Road, and Bridge Division, said, “We use the glass grid product to help our wide crack asphalt patches last longer. Prior to using the product, the crack would resurface through the asphalt patch within a year or two. With the glass grid, we are seeing the oldest patches make it seven years without the crack reflecting through the patches.” The problem with using the glass grid material is transporting, unrolling, and carrying the glass grid. The rolls of the material are heavy and the stickiness of the roll makes it difficult to unroll. “It took two guys to unroll the material,” says Douglas. “One person would need to hold the heavy roll while the other person would pull on the sticky roll to get it to unroll.” Because of the difficulties, the asphalt patch crew would not use the material. Douglas estimates that only 85 percent of the patches were getting glass grid at the time.

Arapahoe County needed to figure out an easier and faster way for county workers to use the glass grid material. Their Road and Bridge staff came up with the Glass Grid Dispenser. The idea was to construct a metal rack similar to a paper towel holder that would allow the glass grid roll to be changed out quickly. The rack also needed to be strong enough to hold the heavy roll. The County shop created a prototype of the dispenser and then sent it over to a private welding shop to finalize the build. Arapahoe County says the total cost to build the dispenser was $650, which they were able to recoup in labor costs alone within a matter of months. It can be easily reproduced and was added to all the County’s patch trucks. The glass grid dispenser has improved pavement operations for Arapahoe County by having the glass grid material readily available, easy to dispense, and portable. County officials say the best part is that their employees are now using the glass grid and they are no longer seeing the reflective cracking.

Click here for video of Arapahoe County’s patchwork.

Arapahoe County Road and Bridge Division
Douglas Stern, Infrastructure Manager
(720) 874-6829

Image:  Glass Grid Dispenser, Arapahoe County, CO Road and Bridge
Photo credit: Arapahoe County Road and Bridge Division
Southern Hospitality Helps Louisiana Parish Recover

Calcasieu Parish Public Works, LA

Image:  Glass Grid Dispenser, Arapahoe County, CO Road and Bridge
Source: Getty Images

Hurricane Laura was a deadly and destructive category 4 when it made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2020. Power outages and damaged structures littered the state. Emergency crews immediately took to the streets, following the storm, to survey the damage. Calcasieu Parish Public Works was one of those crews checking their community and discovered massive damage everywhere. Their first goal was to restore safety to the roadways and intersections for residents and emergency vehicles. Calcasieu Parish Public Works teams found that a huge amount of their traffic signs were either severely damaged or gone. Public Works Director Allen Wainwright said, “Some signs were damaged in place; others were gone. The wind broke signs off the poles. Some of the poles were completely broken in half.”

While Allen worked with his team to get estimates on replacing the signs, they knew they were going to need help. They estimated approximately 400 intersections with damage. There are 1,200 miles of road in their jurisdiction. The Public Works Division knew replacing all the damaged signs was beyond their capabilities at that time. They had a good inventory of about 50 or 60 signs on hand, but that was not enough. They knew working with vendors would take too long and that resources for additional signs were low in availability. Allen went to the Louisiana LTAP, “I knew the LTAP was the best source for reaching out to the other agencies. They put out a call for help and the response was awesome! Within a couple of days, we were able to pull together over 500 signs.” Allen said agencies also offered them the use of trucks and crews. He says he cannot say enough about how everyone’s response to the call for help quickly restored safety to the more critical locations. “In the end, it taught us that we could lean on our brothers and sisters throughout the state. They really helped us over that hump. Folks were helping out on Saturdays, Sundays, long after work hours. They were leaving their homes to assist us. It was very humbling to see the support we got.”

It has been six months since the storm and they are finally to a point where they can return what was borrowed and properly thank everyone. Allen also plans to reach out to the LTAP to explore the need for a mutual aid agreement that will assist all agencies in need during times of emergency. “Some type of agreement would have made some of the earlier interactions much easier by answering questions such as how would you pay someone back, how would the transaction take place and whether a transaction can happen at all”, says Allen.

Calcasieu Parish Public Works
Allen Wainwright, Director
awainwright@calcasieuparish.gov

A Polishing Finish

Perry, NY

After a long winter, the Town of Perry spends time and money cleaning up their trucks in preparation for the spring and summer seasons. A component of this maintenance involves polishing the wheels for a fleet of trucks. Frank Hollister with the Town of Perry says, “This was a long and grueling task especially for one person. Cleaning just one tire would take hours.” A solution was needed to improve the efficiency of this task.
Courtesy: Town of Perry Highway Department
Courtesy: Town of Perry Highway Department
Doc’s Wheel Polishing contraption, which costs less than $20, uses only two casters and a lawn mower tire and increased efficiency and saved time cleaning truck tires. It involves a heavy duty stand that can support the weight of a wheel and can spin while cleaning the tire. The stand has safety measures in place to keep the wheel from falling over. The Town of Perry says two added benefits to the contraption include safety improvements for the individual working on the wheels and a decrease in the amount of time it took to clean each wheel, which is now down to one hour per wheel.
Town of Perry Highway Department
Frank Hollister
(585) 469-4589
townofperryinfo@rochester.rr.com
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News & Happenings
Forging a New Path for TTAP Success
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) heard you! Thanks to feedback from the Tribes and others involved with Tribal transportation issues, FHWA is forging a path toward a more effective and vibrant Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP).
FHWA’s TTAP is a critical program for the Tribes, providing technical assistance and training to support transportation needs. Amy Lucero is the Chief Technical Services Officer who leads technology deployment, technical assistance, and training through the FHWA’s Resource Center, National Highway Institute, and Knowledge Management unit. She is also the acting Chief Innovation Officer. Both the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and TTAP were previously housed in the Office of Technical Services, and Amy and her staff are pleased to be working with the TTAP program again. Amy spoke at the recent Intertribal Transportation Association virtual meeting and stated that she is very much looking forward to getting to work with the Tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and all those involved with Tribal transportation as FHWA advances this important program.
Strategic improvements to TTAP are planned following the Federal Register Notice and Request for Comments on TTAP, which was published on August 21, 2020, at 85 FR 51838. “We are reviewing comments on the TTAP models presented in the notice, including proposed alternatives,” says Amy. “Based on our early review, some of the common themes we’re seeing involve geographic challenges, unique transportation needs for individual Tribes, local knowledge of Tribal transportation issues, and incorporation of existing FHWA resources into the TTAP model.”
Amy is grateful for the feedback and asks for your support, collaboration, and patience as FHWA works to develop a plan that will build on the program’s successes, learns from past challenges, and focuses on new opportunities. “We want to see TTAP succeed, but we cannot do it without the partnerships and support from the Tribes. Everyone must be at the table.”
For more information on TTAP, LTAP, or the FHWA CLAS in the Office of Innovative Program Delivery, visit our website at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/. You can also sign up to receive electronic communications, including the newsletter at this link.
Now Available: Tribal Crash Reporting Toolkit
By Adam Larsen, FHWA Office of Tribal Transportation, and Tom Bragan, NHTSA National Center for Statistics Analysis
Image:  Glass Grid Dispenser, Arapahoe County, CO Road and Bridge
Source: FHWA Safety

The new Tribal Crash Reporting Toolkit enables Tribal governments to improve collection and use of crash data. The toolkit helps Tribal governments maintain data sovereignty while consistently collecting a standardized set of data elements for each crash.

NHTSA published the toolkit in October 2020 to help Tribes in all phases of safety data improvement. The self-assessment tool identifies elements of safety data management that could be improved. The crash reporting facts and fictions tool further enhances the planning of safety data improvements by dispelling common barriers to crash data improvement. A data analysis tool describes common ways that safety data are used to improve transportation safety. Other tools contain the framework needed to establish a crash reporting system. These include a crash reporting form, officer’s instruction manual, database, quality control guide, and a manual that describes all of the available tools. All of these tools are available at no cost at https://www.tribalsafety.org/tribal-crash-reporting-toolkit.

The toolkit is based on the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) and was developed by NHTSA in partnership with FHWA. Several Tribes participated in a pilot of the toolkit contents. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe police department tested the crash reporting form and database.

The FAST Act addressed crash reporting in Tribal areas by stating, “Without more accurate reporting of crashes...it is difficult or impossible to fully understand the nature of the problem and develop appropriate countermeasures,” and “Improved crash reporting by Tribal law enforcement agencies would facilitate safety planning and would enable Indian Tribes to apply more successfully for State and Federal funds for safety improvements.” In response to the FAST Act, FHWA developed a report to Congress, entitled Tribal Governments and Transportation Safety Data. Later, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services published Indian Highway Safety Program: Tribal Crash Reporting Assessments.

Based on this research, at least 20 percent of Tribal police departments may not be using a standardized crash report. Also, half of the Tribes that participated in a recent study said they use a paper reporting system rather than an electronic system. The Tribal Crash Reporting Toolkit addresses these, and many other, improvements for crash reporting.

For more information, contact Tom Bragan at Tom.Bragan@dot.gov or Adam Larsen at Adam.Larsen@dot.gov.

Image:  Glass Grid Dispenser, Arapahoe County, CO Road and Bridge
Source: FHWA
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LTAP Highlight
Transportation is Soaring in Wyoming
Source: Wyoming Technology Transfer Center
Source: Wyoming Technology Transfer Center

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, are taking flight in Wyoming thanks to a partnership between the LTAP Technology Transfer Center, State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC), WY Highway Patrol, and several local agencies. The effort began when STIC awarded a grant to the LTAP Center to facilitate the implementation of drones in the state. WY LTAP has already purchased several drones for use throughout the state and is working on the development of a manual to help local agencies maneuver through the obstacles associated with implementing a drone program.

To aid them with the manual, WY LTAP has been attending drone training events through the University of Wyoming, participating in FHWA Peer Exchanges, and serving on the WY Department of Transportation’s UAS Taskforce. Austin Woody, Transportation Specialist with the Wyoming Technology Transfer Center, says they want to help local agencies throughout the state “get a better idea of what could be done with drones in their local units, what challenges and considerations need to be addressed, and how different approaches could be used to address specific circumstances or need. Our hope is the manual will be useful at all levels of integration of UAS in transportation within the state.”

Several local agencies are already using drones to improve activities in the areas of landfill operations and transportation functions. The WY Highway Patrol is in the process of deploying drones to improve the speed of clearing accidents and returning traffic to normal status more rapidly. The Lincoln County local agency used drones in 2018 to survey damage from the 2018 Porcupine Landslide in western Wyoming. And the City of Gillette has expressed an interest in exploring the use of drones on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) projects.

According to the LTAP, UAS are saving money and time and improving safety of workers and the traveling public in many areas of transportation. “Natural disasters and road damage can be sized up more quickly and accurately to speed the process of making repairs. Rock slides and unstable slopes adjacent to roads can be surveyed more accurately, quickly, and frequently to monitor for changes and allow road departments to preempt negative impacts to roadways”, says Austin.

With standardized use of UAS still being new to transportation, pulling together information so that it is useful and digestible has been the greatest challenge with this project. The LTAP Center plans to host a virtual, hour-long UAS training for the State’s local agencies during April Safety Month. The LTAP Center is hoping to make the UAS manual available this summer. “This project has been very interesting and fun to work with”, says Austin. “UAS technology is nothing short of fascinating in terms of how capable the equipment and related software have become, all the while being unbelievably user friendly.”

Wyoming Technology Transfer Center
Austin Woody, Transportation Specialist
(307) 690-0480
awoody@uwyo.edu

Source: Wyoming Technology Transfer Center
Source: Destry Dearden, Lincoln County, WY GIS Department
Traffic Signal Preemption for Snowplows
By Michael McCarthy, editor with MnLTAP
Photo credit: St. Cloud, MN Public Works Dept. and MnLTAP
Photo credit: St. Cloud, MN Public Works Dept. and MnLTAP

Time-sensitive snowplowing operations can be hampered when snowplows must stop and wait for red traffic signals.

Emergency vehicles have used vehicle preemption for more than 25 years to change red traffic signals to green, which allows them to get through signalized intersections more quickly. But Minnesota law prohibits the use of high-priority vehicle preemption equipment by other vehicles. Low-level preemption devices typically used on mass transit vehicles tend to be more subtle and less effective.

Relative priority preemption technology

The City of St. Cloud received a $10,000 grant through the Local OPERA Program to evaluate a new level of traffic-signal preemption developed for snowplows and other similar equipment called relative priority preemption (RPP). RPP is similar to high-level preemption in that it will force a traffic signal to display green except when emergency vehicles need it.

To test the system, four snowplows at the St. Cloud central maintenance facility were equipped with combination GPS and video cameras to capture both video and location details of the snowplows on their routes. Before the study began, the city navigated an extensive state permission process for a traffic signal override device to be used with the snowplows.

Significant improvement in snowplow travel times

After obtaining state approval, the City of St. Cloud conducted an evaluation of the RPP system with the preemption system activated for a group of plows during selected plowing runs. Baseline data were captured during winter snow events along a two-mile traffic signal corridor equipped with the relative priority equipment. Travel times from each snowplow operating together as a platoon were compared with and without the relative priority system.

The city collected five years of data and completed analysis of the data in early 2020 with the help of the St. Cloud State University Statistics Department. The team’s work may be the most extensive analysis ever conducted of snowplow relative priority preemption in terms of the amount of data captured and the length of the study. But most important, the project team determined that travel times for snowplows improved by 22 percent using RPP technology.

This study is significant because it shows the effectiveness of RPP technology for snowplows when used by a local road agency. In addition, the system provides many more safety and operational benefits that are difficult to quantify, such as reducing the number of unplowed snow windrows blocking cross traffic at intersections and more quickly clearing the way for emergency vehicles during snowstorms.

Recommendations for other agencies considering the technology:

RPP units must replace outdated high- and low-priority optical traffic control devices.
State and local statutes need to be updated to allow for RPP in maintenance equipment.
RPP devices must be regulated to protect the public and government agencies. Training and certification should be required.

About OPERA

According to Tom Zabanski, operations manager with the St. Cloud Public Works Department, this project would not have been possible without the Local Opera Grant. The Local OPERA Program in Minnesota is managed by the MnLTAP and encourages maintenance employees from all cities and counties to get involved in operational, “hands-on” research. OPERA helps to develop innovations in the construction and maintenance operations of local government transportation organizations and share those ideas statewide.

Project Leaders: Tom Zabanski, Blake Redfield Agency
St. Cloud Public Works Department
(320) 650-2900

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About CLAS
About CLAS. Federal Highway Administration Center for Local Aid Support. Favorite Outdoor Activities: Joe Conway, Hanging at the beach! Danielle Mathis-Lee, Cruising the local DMV waterways on her boat, "Dr. Funkenstein", taking in the scenery and enjoying the dockside restaurants. Andrea Kirk, Hiking! Her family plans on hiking part of Sheltowee Trace in Kentucky this summer.  It's 333 miles total! Morgan Malley, Road biking, hiking and camping Trinette Ballard,  Firing up the grill in her backyard.  Grilled chicken wings and veggies are her favorites. Okiefe Ogbe, Swimming!
Source: FHWA CLAS
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Bulletin Board
CLAS Debuts More Online Training Modules
The Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Local Aid Support has officially launched more options for individual professional development online. A series of e-learning modules is available on the FHWA CLAS website for local agencies. Inaugural topics include gravel roads construction and maintenance, project bundling, safe transportation for every pedestrian, construction inspection of rockeries, and geosynthetic reinforced soil—integrated bridge system.
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Source: FHWA
The training modules are the first in a growing portfolio of web-based training that focuses 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 another way to meet this commitment.
The courses are conducted 100 percent online and are on-demand, allowing users to learn at their own pace and on their own time. The courses can be accessed on the Center for Local Aid Support website. If you have questions, please contact us at CLAS@dot.gov.
NHI Training Website Returns Online in April
Photo credit: St. Cloud, MN Public Works Dept. and MnLTAP
The Road to Success
The FHWA Center for Local Aid Support sponsors 24/7 access to hundreds of “need to know” transportation topics for local and Tribal agencies. Please use your government email to register for courses. If you have questions, please contact us at CLAS@dot.gov.
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Source: FHWA
National Highway Institute
Over 180 web-based courses available
https://bit.ly/nhitrainings
AASHTO TC3
Over 190 web-based courses
https://bit.ly/tc3trainings
Institute of Transportation Engineers
15 online modules for smaller jurisdictions
http://bit.ly/itetraining
Federal Aid Essentials
Online library of 112 informational videos
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federal-aidessentials/indexofvideos.cfm
Innovation Exchange
FHWA’s bi-monthly webinars on innovative market-ready technology
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/training_tools/webinars.aspx
LTAP
Check with your local LTAP Center for available online training
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/ltap/
Center for Local Aid Support
A series of training modules available through FHWA CLAS Learning Management System
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas/ttap/online_training.aspx
Photo credit: St. Cloud, MN Public Works Dept. and MnLTAP
FHWA CLAS is planning Innovation Exchanges for 2021. We will send out information as soon as our training schedule is finalized. Please stay tuned and plan to #TrainwithCLAS.
Upcoming Events
National Association of County Engineers (NACE) Annual Conference
April 19–22, 2021 | For information
Lifesavers Conference
April 26–28, 2021 | For information
2021 National Work Zone Awareness Week
April 26–30, 2021 | For information
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Committee on Traffic Engineering Spring Meeting
May 10–14, 2021 | For information
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Committee on Traffic Engineering Annual Meeting
June 6–9, 2021 | For information
National Hurricane Conference
June 14–17, 2021 | For information
Walk/Bike/Places 2021 Conference
June 15–18, 2021 | For information
National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) Annual Conference and Exhibition
June 27–30, 2021 | For information
Stay connected with FHWA
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FHWA CLAS TC-3 Online Training
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FHWA CLAS TC-3 Online Training
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Restricted Crossing U-Turn Guided Tour
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STEP Road Diets
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Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
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Highway Safety Benefit Cost Analysis Safety Tool
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UAS—Shaping Your World
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Introduction to the Long-Term Pavement Performance

 

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