July 23, 2015
Innovation of the Month: Improving DOT and Railroad Coordination
The Every Day Counts effort on improving transportation department and railroad coordination encourages highway agencies and railroads to adopt best practices and streamlined processes to expedite development of highway projects near railroad rights-of-way.
Improved processes can save money and time for agencies:
- Dedicated railroad project managers
- Better and more frequent communication
- Streamlined internal and external coordination
- Improved flagging processes
- Expedited right-of-way access
- Electronic document management
Agencies find that a simple idea such as establishing a single point of first contact for projects involving highways and railroads can make a difference. When the Michigan Department of Transportation reorganized in 2010, it combined all department staff involved in railroad functions in an Office of Rail to address all railroad-related questions.
View Railroad Coordination and Certification Requirements, a Federal-Aid Essentials video for local agencies on coordinating with railroads to avoid unnecessary project delays and costs.
Arizona Signs Environmental Programmatic Agreement
The Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration signed a programmatic agreement on July 7, on categorical exclusions to streamline the environmental review process on highway projects. The agreement reduces paperwork and processing time on National Environmental Policy Act approval for most categorical exclusions—actions that don’t involve significant environmental impacts. The agreement is also a step forward in the Arizona DOT’s effort to improve collaboration and quality environmental documentation on projects.
Arizona DOT and FHWA have signed an agreement for categorical exclusions to streamline the
environmental review process on highway projects.
Illinois Collaborates on Work Zone Improvements
The Illinois Department of Transportation and FHWA are partnering to improve work zone safety and mobility. On July 14 and 15, multidisciplinary staff from both agencies conducted work zone traffic control reviews of 14 active projects in the state for compliance with policies and best practices. FHWA provides instructors for the Illinois DOT’s state and local agency staff work zone safety training program. The Illinois DOT is working to incorporate EDC smarter work zone practices on highway projects, with an emphasis on queue detection and motorist warnings to decrease end-of-queue crashes in work zones.
Maryland Hosts Smarter Work Zone Scan Tour
A scan tour on smarter work zones enabled Oklahoma Department of Transportation staff to observe activities at the Maryland State Highway Agency’s Statewide Operations Center and Baltimore’s Traffic Operations Center. FHWA sponsored the June 25 visit to provide the Oklahoma DOT with insight as it expands its intelligent transportation systems and considers smarter work zone strategies. The Oklahoma group learned about Maryland’s statewide intelligent transportation network and Baltimore’s system to coordinate 1,000 traffic signals.
Minnesota Leads Geospatial Data Study
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and FHWA held a kickoff webinar July 16 on the Transportation Pooled Fund Program study to advance Veta data management and analysis software. Veta, a map-based tool developed by the Minnesota DOT for viewing and analyzing geospatial data, can import data from various intelligent compaction machines. The objective of the pooled fund study is to incorporate new features into the software. The California and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation are also participating in the study.
Virginia Implements Road Diets
The Virginia Department of Transportation is coordinating with the City of Alexandria to implement bicycle enhancements on 20 road segments that are scheduled for paving. The improvements include a mix of road diets, bike lanes and shared-lane markings. A road diet, a strategy that reallocates the roadway cross-section to safely accommodate all users, is being installed on Kingstown Village Parkway between Hayfield Road and Beulah Street.
Road diets can make shared spaces more livable and contribute to a community-focused environment.
Training Video for Traffic Reporters
An International Association of Chiefs of Police training video highlights how traffic reporters can have a positive impact on roadway safety. Traffic Incident Management: The Role of the Traffic Reporter shows reporters who go beyond the reporting of traffic issues to increase awareness of best practices in traffic safety, and remind motorists about laws designed to enhance traffic safety.
FHWA Promotes EDC Safety Efforts
FHWA presentations enabled attendees of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Midwestern District annual meeting in Branson, Missouri, to learn about road diets and data-driven safety analysis. The road diets session covered cost-effective projects that improved safety without adversely affecting traffic operations. The data-driven safety analysis presentation featured methods agencies can use to incorporate safety performance into highway investment decisions.
National Leaders Strategize on Traffic Incident Management
The National Traffic Incident Management Executive Leadership Group met in Washington, D.C., to discuss a range of activities, including traffic incident management responder training, performance measures and public outreach. Officials from seven national organizations representing five traffic incident management disciplines attended the July 9 meeting, including new participants from local law enforcement and transportation-related groups. The executives discussed strategies to institutionalize traffic incident management programs nationally.