June 10, 2021
Innovation of the Month:
Virtual Public Involvement
As part of the Every Day Counts 5 (EDC-5) initiative, and in partnership with various State departments of transportation, the Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) team conducted six virtual peer exchanges and workshops in 2020 to facilitate conversations, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing on the use of VPI tools and strategies.
One of these exchanges convened state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in the Mountain West region. Participants discussed a variety of tools and strategies focused around online public meetings and project visualizations. During the “Lightning Talks” segment, participants summarized their experiences and challenges using VPI techniques.
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) first used VPI for a roundabout project in a rural area. One of the goals of their public outreach was to inform and educate the public about the benefits of roundabouts. They conducted a statewide telephone survey, and used design visualizations of the project to help their stakeholders better understand how roundabouts work. Going forward, MDT plans to use more visualizations during the design process to share with the public, and will explore blending in-person and virtual events, such as public meetings.
The Missoula MPO kicked off their long-range transportation planning process in March 2020 with an in-person event, but continued the engagement through small committees and working groups that met online. They used Wikimaps to embed a map of their project website to allow the public to suggest project ideas, and used Social Pinpoint to allow users to mark up maps and give feedback on specific design alternatives, respond to surveys, and answer pop-up questions. The MPO found that effective facilitation is crucial for successful virtual events, which can take longer to plan than in-person events.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has found that social media is often the most effective way to reach the public, and they use a combination of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram. They have found using video to be particularly effective; any social media post that includes a video receives many more views. They conducted a virtual public open house, with the option to participate in-person, for their Windy Corner project on the Seward Highway. In addition to the project website, the staff provided a project voicemail and inbox for telephone and email comments.
The Wyoming DOT has conducted fully virtual, as well as hybrid in-person/virtual meetings for their projects and development of the State Transportation Improvement Program. At their virtual meeting over Zoom, they provided a virtual room with boards and screenshots to recreate an in-person public meeting format, including a 15-minute, narrated video about a specific project. In their hybrid meeting, they had 930 online and 229 in-person participants.
The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has a website that serves as a hub of information for all active and upcoming ITD projects. The website facilitates community discussions, and features the use of video narratives, live streaming, and ESRI StoryMaps. ITD also custom-developed a Community Discussion tool that allows the public to comment on specific questions, and to “thumbs up” comments made by someone else that they agree with. ITD has found that this approach lowers the barrier to providing feedback and encourages more engagement from the public.
You can watch the presentations by these agencies, and others, in the recordings of the virtual peer exchange. To learn more about Virtual Public Involvement or to request to participate in future peer exchanges, please contact Lana Lau, FHWA Office of Project Development & Environmental Review, or Jill Stark, FHWA Office of Planning, Stewardship, & Oversight.
ATSPMs Improve Traffic Management System in New Hampshire City
In partnership with FHWA and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, the City of Dover, NH, has installed Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPM) at 17 intersections within the Central Avenue corridor to coordinate traffic signals and improve traffic flow.
Traffic signals at these intersections are now connected wirelessly to the city’s central traffic server that consistently monitors traffic flow within the system and notifies staff when an issue arises along the corridor. The technology also provides the ability to make real-time traffic signal programming changes within the system based on current conditions. The end result is an informed approach to developing signal timing that is not dependent on limited, expensive manually collected data sets and citizen calls to gain insight about how the system is working.
The City of Dover saw this effort as an opportunity to make a dramatic change from the traditional approach to managing their signal system. By implementing the ATSPM system, they are able to get a complete data set to help them better understand the needs of vehicles, pedestrian and bicycles that are using the network.
A grant from FHWA’s Accelerated Innovation Deployment Demonstration (AID Demo) Program helped make this project possible. The AID Demo Program provides funding to accelerate the implementation and adoption of innovation in highway transportation.
To learn more about ATSPMs and how they could benefit your agency, please contact Eddie Curtis, FHWA Office of Operations.
EDC-6 Baseline Report Sets Goals for 7 Innovations
From 2021-2022, FHWA is promoting 7 innovations that help States shorten project delivery, enhance safety, reduce congestion, and integrate automation. Each innovation deployment team will seek to aid States in reaching their desired rate of adoption. To learn about each EDC-6 innovation, their current deployment status, and goals set by the States for each innovation, read the EDC-6 Baseline Report.
Stay Up to Date on the EDC Innovations That Interest You Most
EDC teams are always on the move! If you blink, you could miss out on important webinars, case studies, tools, videos, and more. To never miss information for the EDC innovations that interest you most, visit the subscription page and select the topics you’d like to receive updates on directly from the teams that coordinate them.
Project Bundling – 6/3/21
Strategic Workforce Development – 6/2/21
Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE) – 5/26/21
Weather Responsive Management Strategies – 5/26/21
Center for Local Aid Support – 5/25/21
Value Capture – 5/24/21
2021 STIC Excellence Award Nominations
Nominations are open for the 2021 State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Excellence Award, which recognizes a STIC that has made significant impact toward fostering a strong culture for innovation. Past awardees have been recognized for a variety of efforts and initiatives, representing agencies from across the Nation that put innovation at the forefront. FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Innovation Initiative partnered to sponsor the award to promote innovations and to recognize excellence within the STICs.
Nominations may be submitted through July 1, 2021. See the 2021 STIC Excellence Award Nomination form for more details and visit the STIC Excellence Award webpage to read about past recipients. If you have additional questions, contact Sara Lowry, National STIC Network & Incentive Program Coordinator.
Did You Catch the Last Innovator?
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Every Day Counts, a State-based program of the Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Accelerating Innovation, works with State, local, and private sector partners to encourage the adoption of proven technologies and innovations to shorten and enhance project delivery.
U.S Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
EDC News; June 10, 2021