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FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC News: July 21, 2022

EDC News

July 21, 2022

Innovation of the Month: Weather Responsive Management Strategies

When people hear Weather Responsive Management Strategies (WRMS), their minds tend to immediately go to winter weather. However, these strategies apply to more than snowy and icy roadways such as flash flooding, dust and wind storms, and wildfires.

Eight of the ten largest wildfires in California history have occurred within the last five years. Coordinated agency response is required before, during, and after wildfires to prepare for and help prevent additional wildfires; understand when, where, and how to respond; and manage burn scar areas to minimize flash flooding impacts.

In order to better prepare for wildfires, Caltrans maintains close relationships with agency partners including the National Weather Service (NWS), California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, law enforcement, and Federal lands partners to coordinate preparation and response activities. One of these, the Caltrans PREPARE methodology, was developed to preemptively determine when to close State highways in burn scar areas.  In November 2020, PREPARE won an Excellence in Transportation Award demonstrating shortened timelines between adverse weather predictions and road weather management decisions in burn scar areas statewide.

The Caltrans PREPARE pilot developed a new risk-based model that pre-authorized a framework of actions by local, state, and Federal partners when rainfall thresholds are predicted to trigger post-fire debris flow, flooding, rockfall, bridge scour, pavement inundation and other dangerous road conditions.

Actions in the PREPARE methodology include:

  1. Incident response: Once a wildfire incident has been declared, Caltrans begins collaboration with the lead agency, focusing on emergency ingress and egress, enabling transportation for responders and managing traffic flow.
  2. Triage highway: A Caltrans self-assessment team, which can include structural or hydraulic engineers and geologists, helps identify impacts outside of the right of way and helps determine what may qualify for funding.
  3. Assess watershed: Caltrans looks at risks and impacts that extend beyond the highway and giving a broader vision for recovery. Caltrans contributes damage assessment information to the State Watershed Task Force. This enables Caltrans to lend local agencies their expertise to better inform the public living in their jurisdictions.
  4. Infographic: Diagram showing the steps of PREPARE- Wildfire Incident Response, Triage Highway, Assess Watershed, Weather Forecasting, and PREPARE Actions.
  5. Weather forecasting: Caltrans collaborates with NWS to get precipitation forecasts with smaller time intervals and in more precise geographic areas. This helps to accurately predict and prepare for triggering events. Caltrans can then preemptively begin detours, closures, and other proactive measures to protect motorists.
  6. PREPARE actions: Caltrans can initiate many actions during and after a weather event, including road closures, patrols, emergency operations center activation, and messaging on changeable message signs (CMS) and highway advisory radio. Additionally, the agency plays a role during long-term recovery, which can last for five years as vegetation regrows. Caltrans uses geospatial mapping to visualize these areas and identify the type of risk areas associated with them.

To learn more about the Caltrans PREPARE methodology, please contact Lisa Worthington, Caltrans, Chief Vegetation and Wildfire Management. To learn more about WRMS, please contact David Johnson or Tony Coventry, FHWA Office of Operations Road Weather Management Program.

Rural Road Safety Awareness Week Encourages Agencies to “Take Action, Save Lives”

July 18-22, 2022 is Rural Road Safety Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “Taking Action, Saving Lives.” Each day this week promotes a new theme, and one of these themes is Proven Safety Countermeasures. FHWA has identified 28 countermeasures that reduce and prevent severe injury crashes and fatalities. Many of these were promoted as part of the Focus on Reducing Rural Roadway Departures (FoRRRwD) EDC-5 innovation. FoRRRwD has released a poster and a pocket guide to help agencies select the best application of these potential countermeasures.

Visit the National Center for Rural Road Safety’s RRSA week website to learn more about the daily themes and to get additional resources to help increase rural road safety. To learn more about FoRRRwD, contact Cate Satterfield or Dick Albin, FoRRRwD team co-leads.

Learn About Montana Measurement While Drilling Pilot on On-Demand Webinar

On-demand webinars are an important tool in continuing the work of EDC teams. Accessing content when your agency is ready to consider or implement EDC technologies can help your agency make more informed decisions, learn best practices, and hear the experiences from other States.

The Advanced Geotechnical Methods in Exploration (A-GaME) on-demand webinar series includes a presentation, MWD: The Digital Drill Rig, focusing on Montana DOT’s (MDT’s) implementation of Measurement While Drilling (MWD) as part of a one-year pilot program for FHWA. An MDT geotechnical engineer walks through installation of MWD equipment on a department drill rig and how it was used to collect data on several projects. The engineer describes the preliminary MWD testing and issues encountered with sensor installation and use and how they addressed them. He also discusses benefits, limitations, challenges and MDT’s future plans for MWD. The presentation also compares MWD results with cone penetration testing.

To learn more about A-GaME, contact Ben Rivers, Derrick Dasenbrock, or Silas Nichols with the A-GaME EDC team.

New Innovator Now Available!

Innovator Issue 91 cover image

The July/August issue of Innovator is now available, accessible from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone to optimize your reading experience!

In this issue:

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Read past issues and sign up to receive Innovator by email here, or text "FHWA Innovation" to 468311 to get Innovator on your smartphone.

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Recent bulletins:

Road Weather Management 7/14/2022
A-GaME 7/13/2022
UHPC 7/13/2022
Local Aid Support 7/12/2022
Strategic Workforce Development 7/12/2022
A-GaME 7/15/2022
NextGen TIM 7/19/22

About EDC

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.

Recommended Citation:
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
EDC News; July 21, 2022
Washington, DC

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Jeffrey A. Zaharewicz
(202) 366-1325

Page last modified on August 5, 2022
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