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Highways for LIFE

ArrowIowa receives $1 million for Highways for LIFE

Inside Magazine January 2007

There's something to be said for being in the right place at the right time with the right ideas. Because the Iowa DOT spent time planning ahead and had a winning proposal ready to submit, the agency was recently awarded $1 million from the Federal Highway Administration's Highways for LIFE (HfL) program.

"We started preparing for the Highways for LIFE program about 18 months ago," said Sandra Larson, director of the Bureau of Research and Technology. "We formed a steering committee at the request of Kevin Mahoney, director of the Highway Division, and began identifying innovations that we were ready to implement on a planned project that would fit the program description. Therefore, we were able to move very quickly when the award program was announced."

The steering committee included DOT members Larson; Mitch Dillavou, DOT Engineering Bureau director; John Adam, DOT Statewide Operations Bureau director; and Vicki Dumdei, DOT District 2 engineer. Non-DOT members were Milt Dakovich of Aspro, Inc; Ricke Welden and Ron Otto from Associated General Contractors; and Joe Jurasic from the Federal Highway Administration (ex-officio).

To address the HfL program performance goals and complete the grant application, a diversity of expertise was needed. Once the steering committee had identified a candidate project, Patricia Schwarz and Ahmad Abu-Hawash in the Office of Bridges and Structures were asked to take the lead in writing the application, with assistance from other offices within the Engineering and Statewide Operations bureaus. Representatives from these offices contributed by meeting regularly over several weeks and providing input related to their respective areas of expertise. Contributing Iowa DOT offices included District 4, Design, Location and Environment, Traffic and Safety, Contracts, Construction, Employee Services, and Materials.

Highways for LIFE was established in the most recent federal reauthorization of highway funds as a pilot program to highlight best practices in highway construction that other states can emulate. The program has $15 million for fiscal year (FY) 2006 and $20 million for the following fiscal years. These funds are to be used for incentives to state DOTs to demonstrate innovative technologies and practices that can be used to build projects more safely and quickly, and will result in longer- lasting highways, thereby achieving a higher level of user satisfaction. Information from these projects will be shared with the whole transportation community to accelerate changes that will improve the safety and performance of our highways, and reduce the impact of construction and maintenance on highway users. These projects also have performance goals as a part of their HfL application.

The Interstate 80/29 project chosen for HfL is one of the initial components of the Council Bluffs interstate system reconstruction. The proposed 0.5-mile project will result in the reconstruction of a majority of the 24th Street interchange, along with preparatory widening work on westbound I-80/29 to accommodate future interstate projects. Interstate 80-29 traffic will be shifted onto this widened unit for the 24th Street overhead bridge construction. The overhead bridge profile will be raised 5 feet, which will require 1,340 feet of 24th Street to be reconstructed. This will also require all four existing ramps to be partially reconstructed.

Normally, the construction time for a project like this would be two construction seasons; however, for this accelerated project it will be constructed in one season. The innovations to be used on the project include:

  • full-depth, precast bridge deck panels with a concrete overlay to accelerate construction and improve safety;
  • high-performance concrete and high-performance, steel-welded plate girders;
  • a structural, health-monitoring system to evaluate and document the performance of the materials used;
  • flooded bridge abutment granular backfill;
  • cost-plus-time bidding to reduce project delivery time; and
  • use of intelligent transportation systems to optimize traffic control and refine closure periods.

Use of these innovative features on the project will improve safety, reduce risk and reduce construction congestion.

Other performance goals set for the project relate to:

  • work zone safety during construction;
  • worker safety during construction;
  • facility safety after construction;
  • construction congestion;
  • traffic queue length during construction; and
  • user satisfaction.

In addition to the Iowa project, projects from Minnesota and South Carolina were also awarded funding at the recent American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' annual meeting in Portland, Oregon.

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Updated: 04/04/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration