Three-dimensional (3D) digital models can be used during design and construction to virtually develop, optimize, and manage projects, as well as to increase productivity via automation. With 3D models, contractors can perform construction planning and bidding, including visualizing construction progress schedules and project phasing (also known as 4D models). This virtual tool reduces risk by helping to avoid costly clashes in the field, leading to major cost and schedule advantages. By incorporating scheduling information into the model, contractors can gauge how various activities, such as utility installation, grading, bridge work, or paving, can impact the next project phase and the critical path to timely completion. Linking cost data (also known as 5D models) along with the schedule allows the delivery team to see the anticipated project cash flow and estimate progress payments. Post-construction, digital asset locations collected by survey and lidar can be used to create accurate as-built record drawings and update asset management systems. The data used to build the 3D models can also be propagated into nontraditional functions such as roadway inventory, asset management, surveys, and records.
For more information: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/3d/
Advances in highway safety analysis can provide transportation agencies with the reliable information they need to make effective investments in safety improvements. DDSA focuses on using predictive and systemic safety analyses to better target highway safety investments to reduce crashes and fatalities. Predictive approaches combine crash, roadway inventory, and traffic volume data to provide more reliable estimates of an existing or proposed road’s expected safety performance. The results inform roadway safety management and project development decision-making, as well as safety countermeasure selection and evaluation. Systemic approaches target high-risk roadway features associated with particular severe crash types. Comprehensive safety management programs can incorporate a systemic approach to complement traditional high crash location-oriented approaches.
For more information: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsdp/ddsa.aspx
The administration of highway projects requires a significant amount of documentation. This has traditionally been accomplished through extensive, paper-based systems involving conventional postal delivery, project journals, note taking, stamped plan sets, design and construction submittals, and physical signatures on multiple copies of many documents. These paper-based documentation systems require significant time and money to create, process, and store. e-Construction, an electronic project document management system, decreases printing and document storage costs and reduces communication delays and transmittal time.
e-Construction improves communication and workflows by allowing faster approvals, increased accuracy, and better document tracking while increasing transparency. Examples of e-Construction technology include mobile devices and applications for field inspection and data collection, data hosting services (data clouds, share sites, virtual review rooms), electronic review and approval processes (digital signatures/reviews), and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for resource tracking.
For more information: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/econstruction/
GRS-IBS bridges employ a simple design that can be adapted to suit environmental or other needs and modified easily in the field to adjust to unexpected site conditions. Once built, GRS-IBS bridges are durable and easy to maintain. The construction creates a smooth transition from the roadway to the bridge, alleviating the bump normally caused by differential settlement between the bridge abutment and the approaching roadway. Decreasing the impact loads normally caused by the bump reduces maintenance needs. GRS-IBS bridges can be designed for a wide range of loading conditions, such as in seismic areas and rapidly changing water elevations.
For more information: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/engineering/geotech/
Enhanced collaboration can reduce the time needed for environmental review of transportation project proposals under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Strategies and tools are available that can enable concurrent, timely, and transparent interagency reviews that will reduce the amount of work and resources required and improve the quality of NEPA documents.
Implementing quality environmental documentation (IQED) is a strategy for simplifying and expediting NEPA documents. This approach centers on telling the project’s story while keeping the NEPA document brief and ensuring it meets legal requirements. The result is NEPA documents that more effectively communicate the information used for project decisions, which helps project proponents accelerate project delivery and achieve better environmental outcomes. In addition, agencies can use eNEPA, a web-based interagency collaboration and development tool, to facilitate collaborative and concurrent interagency reviews and real-time schedule status and tracking.
For more information: https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/nepa/documentation.aspx and https://enepa.fhwa.dot.gov/
Each year, transportation agencies construct hundreds of highway projects that cross over, under, or parallel to railroad rights-of-way, requiring extensive coordination between the agencies responsible for these structures. Railroads must carefully evaluate transportation agency projects in terms of safety, engineering, and operational impacts both during construction and for decades afterward. Delays during these reviews can cause project costs to increase, resulting in the need for project coordination and process streamlining that can save money and time for both railroads and highway agencies.
Transportation departments and railroads can work together to identify issues early and negotiate agreements that can expedite development on highway projects that involve railroad rights-of-way. The model agreement library, tools, and training developed under the second Strategic Highway Research Program R16 project allow public agencies and railroads to identify and circumvent sources of conflict and develop memoranda of understanding (MOUs) for project and program needs.
The Federal-Aid Highway Program helps fund construction, maintenance, and operation of the Nation’s 3.9 million-mile highway network. For the local public agencies (LPAs) that own and operate the majority of these roads, about 2.9 million miles, clarity of the requirements for using Federal funds is critical. State departments of transportation (DOTs) oversee the LPA program and work with local agencies to help them use Federal aid effectively. Stakeholder partnering is one strategy for addressing some of the common challenges. This type of program-level partnering involves bringing together representatives from a State’s DOT, LPAs, and FHWA division office on one committee that meets regularly to identify and launch process improvements and training in Federal-aid project delivery. Collaboration among representatives from each level of government results in solutions that can streamline processes and optimize the use of Federal-Aid Highway Program funds for all involved.
For more information: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federalaid/lpa/
Meeting the public’s expectations for regional mobility increasingly requires agencies to take a cooperative approach to regional planning and decision-making. Regional models of cooperation can help State departments of transportation (DOTs), regional planning groups, and other stakeholders develop agreements and coordinate planning across jurisdictional boundaries to support common goals such as safety, congestion management, freight, livability, economic development, and efficient project delivery.
Examples of regional cooperation include jointly developed transportation plans and programs, cross-jurisdictional corridor studies, and project planning across metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and State boundaries. It can also include collaboration between State DOTs, MPOs, and operators of public transportation on activities such as collecting, storing, and analyzing transportation data and on working together to improve transportation demand and air quality models.
For more information: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/regional_models/
Improved safety and congestion relief on public roadways are high-priority national goals. Road Diets are a safety-focused alternative to four-lane, undivided roadways that can help achieve these goals by reducing vehicle speeds and freeing space for alternative transportation modes. By reconfiguring the roadway cross-section on mixed-use streets, Road Diets help safely accommodate all users and increase mobility and access.
The most common type of Road Diet involves converting an existing four-lane, undivided roadway segment that serves both through and turning traffic into a three-lane segment with two through lanes and a center, two-way, left-turn lane. The reclaimed space can be allocated for other uses such as bike lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bus lanes, and parking. This low-cost reconfiguration can reduce collisions, increase mobility and access, and improve a community’s quality of life.
For more information: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/
While work zones play a critical role in maintaining and upgrading our roads, they can also be a major cause of congestion, delay, and traveler dissatisfaction. Effective traffic management is necessary during construction to minimize travel delays, enhance motorist and worker safety, maintain access to local businesses and residences, and complete roadwork on time. The operational and safety benefits can be significant, especially in high-impact areas such as metropolitan regions and corridors.
By implementing Smarter Work Zones (SWZ), agencies can better design, plan, coordinate, and operate work zones. SWZ includes a wide range of innovative technologies and coordination strategies that lead to safer and more operationally efficient work zones. Technology applications use intelligent transportation systems to manage work zone traffic dynamically. Project coordination strategies minimize work zone impacts by coordinating construction activities within a corridor, network, or region.
For more information: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/
Prefabricated bridge elements are structural components of a bridge that are built offsite then brought, ready to erect, to the project location. Prefabricated bridge elements not only shorten onsite construction time—minimizing traffic impacts and increasing traveler and worker safety—but can also offer superior durability. The durability of prefabricated spans, and how quickly they can be constructed, relies on the connections between the elements. Field-cast UHPC has emerged as a solution for creating connections between prefabricated concrete components with more robust long-term performance than conventional PBE connection designs.
UHPC is a steel fiber-reinforced, portland cement-based, advanced composite material that delivers performance far exceeding conventional concrete, which allows the behavior of the joined prefabricated components to surpass that of conventional construction. UHPC allows for small, simple-to-construct connections that require less volume of field-cast concrete and do not require post-tensioning. The mechanical properties of UHPC also allow for redesign of common connection details in ways that promote both ease and speed of construction. This makes using prefabricated bridge elements simpler and more effective.