February 3, 2022
Innovation of the Month: Strategic Workforce Development
Across the nation, there is a shortage of highway construction workers. FHWA partnered with other key national highway organizations and the Federal Employment and Training Administration to establish the Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP). The partnership brings highway construction, education, and workforce interests together at state and local levels to identify, train, and place individuals into trade occupations to fill industry workforce gaps. The programs are managed by the partner working groups that identify workforce needs and resources. HCWPs in several locations—Alabama, Denver, Rhode Island, and Idaho—have launched successful working groups.
A critical first step in addressing the highway construction workforce shortage is bringing together various community leaders and stakeholders to form these working groups. From holding roundtable meetings to leveraging longtime professional relationships, forming a successful working group often means bringing industry, government, education, businesses, and non-profit stakeholders together to take action.
Working groups help ensure the success of a workforce development program. (Credit: USDOT/Getty)
In Idaho and Rhode Island, Department of Labor workforce councils with existing industry partnerships helped bring the HCWPs to life. In Alabama and Denver, Department of Transportation staff first connected business and highway construction industry leaders. From there, workforce councils and construction industry associations took the lead in expanding working groups as common hiring goals quickly united all partners into action working towards identifying, training, and placing individuals into highway construction jobs. Alabama also used longtime partnerships between business and industry representatives working with educational leaders to help form the HCWP. Engaging business and industry leaders in the community is very important to help tailor any workforce program to best meet local needs.
The Denver HCWP kicked off its successful working group by holding roundtable discussions on how to meet local hiring priorities. Initial conversations involved nearly 50 business and community representatives. In time, Denver found that smaller working groups focused on individual action items and meeting common goals worked well in moving the partnership forward.
Once a working group is established, keeping those common goals at the forefront through regular meetings and fluid communication is paramount. Like Denver, other program participants found that working together as a group proved to be effective, but in many cases, subcommittees organically formed to address a region’s specific needs. Participants communicated frequently, meeting through in-person and virtual meetings, as well as more frequent email exchanges and teleconferences. In Denver, such communication led to a successful HCWP and ultimately 923 people were trained and 744 were placed in highway and vertical construction jobs.
Creating a shared resource pool can also serve as a great benefit to workforce partnerships. The Denver HCWP created a project management portal to serve as a hub for the partnership, giving access to information and materials to all its participating members.
Thin Concrete Overlay Continues to Serve Motorists After More Than 10 Years of Service
In 2010, Richland County, IL, chose to place a thin concrete overlay over a 22-foot wide asphalt road that serves as a trucking route servicing oil fields and grain elevators. At the time, pavement distress included transverse cracks due to shrinkage of the soil-cement base, with no rutting or ride issues.
Richland County decided to place the overlay for several reasons. The county had previous experience with premature oxidation of asphalt overlays, and unbonded concrete overlays had proven successful in nearby counties. Specifying a concrete overly also enabled more competition for the work—past projects indicated that only one contractor typically bid on county asphalt projects while multiple concrete contractors were available. Crews milled the existing asphalt/sealcoat pavement to a 1-inch depth and constructed a 5.5-inch concrete overlay with macrofibers.
More than a decade after the County added the concrete overlay to the asphalt surface of County Highway 9, the roadway has no failures and performance is exceptional according to the county engineer.
Tax-Allocation District Helps Fund Development in Metro Atlanta
The Atlanta Beltline is transforming a 22-mile corridor of unused railroad segments into a multi-modal urban redevelopment around downtown Atlanta. The development includes multi-purpose trails, bike paths, and a modern streetcar. The vision for the Beltline is to knit 45 Atlanta neighborhoods together through a green amenity while stimulating economic development.
The Beltline has attracted philanthropic and corporate dollars, and leveraged Federal and State funds, but its main source of financing is a value-capture mechanism which directs increased property-tax revenues from new development and economic growth above an initial baseline into a special-purpose Tax-Allocation District (TAD) fund that repays project-related debt. Atlanta Beltline, Inc. (ABI), the quasi-public corporation created to administer the Beltline, has issued $155 million in TAD bonds thus far. The project is on schedule to be completed in 2030 despite a recession in 2008 and the recent pandemic. With strong stakeholder and community support the Atlanta Beltline has remained resilient, continuing the Tax Allocation District and implementing the Special Service District to complete the Atlanta Beltline in a timely fashion.
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Every Day Counts, a state-based initiative 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.
EDC News is published weekly by the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation.
Notice: The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this presentation only because they are considered essential to the objective of the presentation. They are included for informational purposes only and are not intended to reflect a preference, approval, or endorsement of any one product or entity.
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration Every Day Counts: Innovation for a Nation on the Move
EDC News: January 6, 2022