|FHWA > HfL > Innovator > Issue 39, November/December 2013|
Accelerating Innovation for the American Driving Experience
Inside This Issue:
FHWA Offers Innovation Incentives
FHWA Offers Innovation Incentives
A new Federal Highway Administration program offers resources to State Transportation Innovation Councils to support their efforts to mainstream innovations under the Every Day Counts initiative.
STICs, led by the highway agency head and FHWA division administrator in each state, have been instrumental in bringing together transportation stakeholders to identify and implement Every Day Counts innovations. They include members from local agencies, regulatory agencies, Local Technical Assistance and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs, metropolitan plan-ning organizations and industry.
The STIC Incentive Program offers technical assistance and funds—up to $100,000 per STIC per year—to support the costs of standardizing innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. It’s part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
"For states, using available, proven innovations is essential to delivering the transportation programs motorists and taxpay-ers expect today. This incentive program is designed to help cover some of the costs involved in adopting and regularly using innovations that can improve our transportation system," said Hari Kalla, director of FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innova-tion, which administers the program.
A total of $5.3 million per fiscal year is available for STIC incentives, which will be for the 80 percent federal share of trans-portation project funding. The nonfederal match must come from project sponsors or other allowable funding sources.
STIC incentives can be used for a variety of activities to make innovations standard practice in a state, including developing technical guidance and standards, implementing system process changes, organizing peer exchanges, delivering training, cre-ating an evaluation plan and offsetting the costs of innovation deployment.
Projects selected for incentives will be those with a statewide impact on making an innovation a standard practice. The ap-plication process involves submitting a short document to the state FHWA division office with a description of the proposed work, amount of funds requested, project schedule, other committed funding sources and the public entity responsible for administering the project.
FHWA introduced the concept of STICS in 2010 when it launched Every Day Counts, which works with states to implement innovations that reduce the time it takes to deliver highway projects, enhance safety and protect the environment. Today all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have STICS in some format that encourage innovation and cooperation among transportation stakeholders.
To submit an application, contact the state FHWA Division at: https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/foisp/keyFieldFederalAidDivisions.do
3-D Modeling Saves Time on County Project
Caption: 3-D Model from Wisconsin DOT
A county official from Illinois who picked up the idea of 3-D modeling at an Every Day Counts seminar is now using the technology to save time and money on a road reconstruction project in his state.
Knox County Engineer Duane Ratermann attended a presentation on 3-D modeling at an Every Day Counts summit the Federal Highway Administration held in Kansas City, Mo., in 2012. "We were well into the design of our County Highway 4 project, and I thought that 3-D modeling sounded like something we could apply to the project," he said."Over the next couple of weeks I looked at a few FHWA webinars on the subject. The more I watched the webinars, the more I thought this is something I could apply."
Ratermann contacted FHWA’s Illinois Division and learned that he could request a Highways for LIFE incentive to support the use of 3-D modeling. He applied and got an $880,000 grant.
In recent years, many contractors have begun using Global Positioning System technology to provide automated machine control on their construction equipment. For example, GPS technology can show a bulldozer operator a display in the cab that illustrates the desired design grade, using a 3-D digital terrain model.
By comparing the actual grade to the design grade, the GPS system can automatically control the dozer blade or the blade of any construction machine. The use of GPS and 3-D modeling technology virtually eliminates the need for grading stakes and real-time surveying and significantly reduces the time it takes equipment operators to accomplish their grading.
“The real savings is in the surveying,” said Loren Rains, project engineer for Brandt Construction Co. of Milan, Ill., contractor for the County Highway 4 project. The $4.9 million project involves shaping a new profile for more than 3 miles of the two-lane county road. Some 40,000 cubic yards of earth must be moved from cuts to fills or excavated from a borrow pit on the project.
“We don’t have to have guys walking the slopes, checking grade, pulling stringlines, making sure the grades are correct,” said Rains. “All of that would cost quite a bit more. On 10 days, the GPS systems and 3-D modeling probably save us two days of work. You’re probably looking at saving a total of three to four workers the entire time that you’re doing the stakeless grading. On this project the savings could amount to $50,000 to $100,000.”
Brandt will have one GPS-equipped dozer pushing earth to a large excavator, which will load off-road trucks. The dozer’s GPS system will tell the operator at the cut exactly when final grade has been reached. The process works much the same way at the fill site, where trucks dump the earth and a GPS-controlled dozer spreads it out. “We’ll use the GPS systems for grading and shaping the ditches, and then for subgrade purposes and for grading and placing the base stone,” said Rains.
“If the 3-D model and GPS systems can help us get in and get out of the construction area quicker, certainly that’s less in-convenience for the traveling public,” said Ratermann. “And accuracy is one of the benefits of the 3-D model.
You have a computer that determines the elevation of the dozer blade as opposed to a human being reading from grade stakes.” For more information on 3-D modeling, visit: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/everydaycounts/edctwo/2012/3d.cfm.
Knox County hired the consulting firm of Bruner, Cooper and Zuck of Galesburg, Ill., to develop the 3-D model, Ratermann said. “I had lunch with Kevan Cooper and one of his employees who develops the model, and I learned that it would be relatively inexpensive to take my two-dimensional plans for our County Highway 4 project and give them to Bruner, Cooper and Zuck to develop the model.”
Knox County has closed County Highway 4 for the duration of the project. Completion is scheduled for May 2015, but Rains hopes to beat that date. “If we get decent weather and everything goes according to plan, I’d estimate that we could finish by Thanksgiving of 2014,” he said.
Caption: Crews pour concrete for a box culvert that is part of the County Road 4 project where 3-D modeling is being used instead of surveying stakes.
New Intersections Move Traffic Efficiently and Safely
Innovative intersection and interchange geometrics are gaining momentum across the country. The Federal Highway Administration is promoting them through its Every Day Counts initiative to accommodate traffic volumes more efficiently while enhancing safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Examples of these geometrics abound, said Mark Doctor, safety and design engineer at FHWA’s Resource Center. The Salt Lake City, Utah, area has the greatest concentration of the four designs: four diverging diamond interchanges, eight displaced left turn intersections, numerous roundabouts, several ThrU-turn intersection applications and more in the works.
Missouri has the most diverging diamond interchanges, with 10 in place and more in development, Doctor said. The state also has numerous roundabouts, several restricted crossing U-turn intersections and one displaced left turn intersection.
Maryland, another leader in implementing these designs, was an early user of the displaced left turn intersection. The state also has several restricted crossing U-turns along the U.S. 301 corridor, numerous roundabouts and a recently built diverging diamond interchange.
FHWA offers support in implementing intersection and interchange geometrics:
Technical assistance on analysis and design questions and peer reviews by experts involved with successful implementation are available. This on-call support for state and local agencies is handled mostly through email, conference calls and Web meetings.
Help with applying the designs is also offered through peer-based information exchanges, which are tailored to the interests of participating agencies. Various formats—in person, virtual or a combination—are possible to accommodate participants’ travel needs, Doctor said. FHWA encourages holding a forum as part of an already planned event.
Projects Demonstrate New Ways to Build Bridges
After three Technology Partnerships projects tested innovations to improve the way bridges are built, they showed that the technologies—precast bents for high seismic regions, composite decking and ultra-high-performance concrete waffle deck panels—work on real-world projects.
The Technology Partnerships program provides grants to private industry to help transform late-stage prototypes that can cut construction congestion and enhance highway quality and safety into market-ready products. Under the program, part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Highways for LIFE initiative, the innovations are further developed and evaluated on construction projects.
Precast Bridge Bents
A Technology Partnerships grant helped BergerABAM Inc. of Federal Way, Wash., develop connections for prefabricated bridge bents used in areas prone to seismic activity. Precast elements can save time and boost safety on bridge projects, but using them in high seismic zones requires connections that are both readily constructible and able to withstand seismic shaking.
Photo - Lightweight, corrosion-resistant composite bridge decking was tested on a project in New York.
Another Technology Partnerships project developed corrosion-resistant, lightweight bridge decking that can be installed quickly to minimize traffic disruption and improve safety. BridgeComposites LLC of Hornell, N.Y., used its grant to determine the best materials and methods to fabricate a composite bridge deck based on a New York State Department of Transportation prototype developed at the University at Buffalo.
“The result of the project is a robust, high-quality deck suitable for many applications, including movable bridges, historic trusses and posted bridges,” according to Composite Bridge Decking: Final Project Report (FHWA-HIF-13-029), online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/hfl/partnerships/hif13029/fhwahif13029.pdf.
Waffle Bridge Panels
In a third bridge-related project, Coreslab Structures (Omaha) Inc. of Bellevue, Neb., manufactured, tested and demonstrated the use of full-depth bridge deck panels made of UHPC. The panels were strategically designed with a “waffle” shape, reducing the volume of UHPC and the associated cost.
States are adding safety innovations, accelerated bridge construction techniques and new project delivery methods to their infrastructure-building toolkits.
Delaware Develops High-Friction Surface Treatment Specifications
The Delaware Department of Transportation is embracing the use of high-friction surface treatments to improve safety. The agency’s first treatment was on a horizontal curve with a history of wet weather roadway departure crashes. The Delaware DOT plans to continue to use the treatments to address roadway departure crashes in horizontal curves and advertise for a statewide contract for applying them. The Federal Highway Administration helped the agency develop technical specifications for the contract.
Montana Showcases Innovative Bridge Construction
A showcase in Dupuyer highlighted Montana’s first geosynthetic reinforced soil integrated bridge system. The bridge crosses the South Fork Dry Fork Marias River and consists of GRS abutment walls with prestressed, voided-slab beams. The bridge is designed as a grizzly bear undercrossing. Nearly 40 people from county, state and federal agencies and private industry attended a workshop and site visit to learn about GRS-IBS.
Virginia Plans Design-Build Projects
The Virginia Department of Transportation is using the design-build delivery method on three restoration projects on the I-64 and I-264 corridors in the Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach areas. The projects—estimated to cost $116 million—will increase pavement life span on the interstate sections 15 years or more. High-friction surface treatments will be applied on shoulders used as travel lanes to enhance safety.
New York Project Uses Accelerated Bridge Construction
The New York State Department of Transportation used accelerated bridge construction to replace the I-84 overpass over Dingle Ridge Road in Putnam County. The project is a Highways for LIFE demonstration project and a second Strategic Highway Research Program ABC Toolkit pilot. In September, I-84 eastbound was closed one weekend so the new bridge structure could be slid into place, while the westbound bridge slide took place during another weekend closure to minimize disruption to motorists.
Ohio Tries Intelligent Compaction Technology
The Ohio Department of Transportation demonstrated the use of intelligent compaction—which improves pavement quality and performance—on clay soils on a project in Lima. Subgrade compaction was done with a Cat Machine Drive Power roller, then evaluated with a nuclear moisture density gauge, lightweight deflectometer and dynamic cone penetrometer. The agency plans a similar project demonstration on granular material in Belmont County.
ABC Good for Small Bridges, Vermont Project Shows
A Vermont Agency of Transportation project on a rural road near East Montpelier showed that using accelerated bridge construction techniques can benefit small bridge projects as well as big ones.
The new bridge used a simplified design to cut construction time and lower future maintenance costs. Key innovations applied on the project include the following:
“With no joints that can fall into disrepair and leak, no curbs that retain salt-laden runoff and accelerate deck deterioration, no bearings that can corrode and freeze and no beam paint system that can fail, the project accomplished its goal of designing and building a structure that is reduced to its most basic components, incorporates durable materials, is virtually maintenance free and has lower life cycle costs than a conventional structure,” noted an FHWA report, Vermont Demonstration Project: Route 2—East Montpelier Bridge.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation estimated that the innovative approach saved eight weeks of construction time over conventional methods, which would have taken 176 days. Because of the temporary bridge, motorists experienced no significant traffic delays during construction, even though the speed limit through the work zone was reduced from 50 to 35 miles per hour. That meant the project met Highways for LIFE goals for construction congestion.
No traffic incidents or worker injuries were reported during the project, so it met the Highways for LIFE safety goals. The wider structure is expected to be safer than the old bridge, the site of numerous collisions and near misses in the past.
Caption: The new, wider structure of a rural bridge in Vermont is expected to enhance traveler safety.
Caption: Stainless steel deck reinforcement increased the bridge’s durability.
An economic analysis of the project—including the costs of construction and projected maintenance needs—showed that the innovative approach will save $932,800 over the life of the bridge compared to the traditional approach. That’s a net savings of 47 percent.
“The project saved money and demonstrates that the Highways for LIFE program concepts apply not only to large, complex bridge projects, but also to smaller, rural projects,” the FHWA report said.
To read the Vermont report and other technical reports on Highways for LIFE demonstration projects, go to
Award Winners Feature Every Day Counts Innovations
Accelerated bridge construction, innovative intersection geometrics, design-build contracting and alternative technical concepts are proving their worth. They’re among the innovations states used on construction projects named finalists in the 2013 America’s Transportation Awards competition.
Georgia’s first diverging diamond interchange made the finals of the 2013 America’s Transportation Awards competition.
Utah Showcases Bridge Slide
About 75 transportation professionals turned out to watch as crews slid a prebuilt bridge superstructure into place overnight on Interstate 84 near Echo, Utah. They also attended a workshop sponsored by the Utah Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to learn about the accelerated bridge construction techniques used to cut construction time and traffic impacts on the replacement project. It was the Utah DOT’s first use of geosynthetic reinforced soil integrated bridge system technology, which combines alternating layers of compacted granular fill and geotextile reinforcement to support bridges. It was also the first time GRS-IBS had ever been used on a U.S. interstate.
Photo top - Utah Showcases Bridge Slide
American Concrete Pavement Association Annual Meeting, December 2–6, 2013, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.pavement.com/Events_and_Programs/Events/index.asp.
InnovatorInnovator, published by the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation, advances implementation of innovative technologies and accelerated project delivery methods in the highway industry. Its audience is transportation professionals in highway agencies, trade and research groups, academia and the private sector and the driving public.
Anthony R. Foxx, Secretary, U.S. DOT
Victor M. Mendez, Administrator, FHWA
Center for Accelerating Innovation Team
Hari Kalla, Director
Byron Lord, Senior Advisor
Kathleen Bergeron, Program Coordinator
Ewa Flom, Program Coordinator
Mary Huie, Program Coordinator
Julie Zirlin, Technology Partnerships Coordinator
Ellen Schweppe, Managing Editor
James Cline, Jr., Designer
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