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FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC News: April 6, 2023

EDC News

April 6, 2023

Strategic Workforce Development

The Strategic Workforce Development (SWD) innovation was very busy in 2022! Let’s look at what SWD has been up to. The team hosted ten events last year, including three workshops hosted across the country.These workshops brought FHWA and representatives from various States together to Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas to discuss crucial landmarks in specific programs concerning strategic workforce development.

At left, four people, wearing safety vests, look on as another person, at right, wearing safety vest and hard hat, climbs into a piece of heavy equipment.
ADOT SWD program participant climbs into a piece of heavy equipment. (Credit: FHWA)

The Arizona Department of Transportation, like many other agencies, face shortages in their workforce pool. Their partnership with the State’s chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America has grown into a permanent training and development program that provides guaranteed careers for a diverse pool of applicants. The diversity is the result of collaboration with multiple workforce development partners and by finding ways to reduce barriers to employment for applicants.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) shared how it focuses on evolving its workforce program to attract a new generation and compete with other industries that have updated their recruitment programs. Pop-Up Academies now condense a 3-4 month program, which fostered relationships with contractors, to a two-week curriculum and a 4-6 week program. NCDOT realizes that it must actively find people to fill workforce needs and so has increased from one recruiter in 2017 to six in 2022. These positions also manage social media content and outreach. As a result, job postings are up about 35 percent.

Finally, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) described how it works directly with workforce boards to connect workforce development program graduates with long-term careers. In one example, the Lone Star Justice Alliance (LSJA), a non-profit legal association, is helping TxDOT build alternative community-based support and employment opportunities for justice-involved emerging adults, ages 17-24, through ConnectU2Jobs. ConnectU2Jobs participants have a LSJA case manager assigned for 1-on-1 support and to help connect them with community resources like transportation and housing. This programprovides participants an opportunity to earn heavy equipment certifications that can lead to long-term careers.

Head over to the SWD toolkit and discover the newest resources and strategies available to further develop your program. These include items like SWD speaking points that outline the workforce development challenge, benefits to training programs, and what States are doing bring individuals into heavy highway construction careers. Use the speaking points when pitching your program internally or externally with facts such as, “Did you know that 90 percent of highway contractors can’t fill their job openings?” or “34 States have already established SWD working groups through EDC.” Additionally, find new case studies, outreach materials, and more that can help your SWD program grow and succeed.

The SWD team has lots of exciting plans for 2023 and hope you will join them. Register for the SWD newsletter to be notified of upcoming virtual and in-person events, new resources and case studies, and other workforce news. To learn more about SWD, please contact Chrisy Currier or Joe Conway, FHWA Office of Innovation and Workforce Solutions.

Texas Puts Highly Modified Asphalt to the Test

A population and traffic surge in Austin, Texas, has transportation engineers looking at ways to extend the life and durability of traditional stone matrix asphalt (SMA) mixtures, especially along interstate highway 35 (I-35), the tenth most congested highway in the nation. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is exploring how highly modified asphalt (HiMA) binder could enhance SMA performance as one possible solution.

HiMA and SMA are two asphalt products promoted as part of the Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS) Every Day Counts initiative. TxDOT believes that HiMA could help the roadway adapt to the loading and frequency measured on major freight corridors and provide added reliability. The Department has awarded a project to evaluate constructability and performance and is working with the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research to help design, test, and place HiMA test sections.

If the test sections perform successfully, hundreds of thousands of tons of SMA with HiMA are expected to be placed on projects along I-35 in the Austin area over the next four to five years, an interstate that has not been reconstructed significantly since 1973.

TxDOT is also working with industry to ensure contractors are ready for the addition of HiMA to their menu of solutions. The Texas Asphalt Pavement Association recently hosted contractors from other States so Austin contractors could hear suggestions for storing HiMA and learn about other considerations.

To learn more about TOPS, please contact Tim Aschenbrener, FHWA Office of Preconstruction, Construction, and Pavements, or Robert Conway, FHWA Resource Center.

Discover Home-Grown Innovations from Around the Country

"National STIC Network Showcase" with 10 categories of links which the innovations are broken up into. Another screen extends from the left of the central screen with a button labeled, "View on-demand presentations." A man stands to the left of the screen and another man sits at the right corner of the screen.

Are you interested in homegrown innovations being used by your peers in other parts of the country? Check out the National STIC Network Showcase, a component of the EDC-7 Virtual Summit. Registering for the event allows you to access all the content through February 2024.

The showcase prominently features several innovations focused on addressing challenges to the natural environment. Learn about the New Hampshire DOT's Wildlife Passage Culvert, which partnered with The Nature Conservancy to create a replacement culvert that helped restore aquatic connectivity in the Hudson River Valley. The culvert features a low-flow channel for aquatic passage and a wildlife shelf for mammal passage. In addition to reconnecting the local ecosystem, animals passing through the culvert instead of at the roadway level will increase safety for motorists.

Celebrate the ingenuity of your peers and read about these innovations—developed and deployed in-house at transportation agencies nationwide. Additionally, we invite you to watch the one-hour presentations on-demand that feature many of these and other innovations.

Screenshot of STIC Network Showcase section of EDC Virtual Summit website. 

Text title reads, "National STIC Network Showcase" with 10 categories of links which the innovations are broken up into. Those categories include "Asset Management & Finance," "Maintenance & Emergency Response," "Operations," "Design & Construction," "Technology & Materials," "Planning & Environment," "Safety," "Pavement & Structures," "Civil Rights, Workforce, and Equity," and "2020 Archive."

Register for FHWA Leadership Panel on Equity in Roadway Safety

The Federal Highway Administration is excited to announce the Equity in Roadway Safety Webinar Series, which will feature noteworthy actions and tools that transportation professionals and other stakeholders may implement to address disparities in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. FHWA invites you to join an esteemed panel for the kickoff event on April 17, 2023, a Leadership Panel on Equity in Roadway Safety.

New Innovator Now Available!

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

In this issue:

Comments? Questions? We'd love your feedback! Drop us a line and let us know what you think.

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

Stay Up to Date on the EDC Innovations That Interest You Most

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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.

Recent bulletins:

Local Aid Support 3/23/2023
Sustainable Pavements 3/24/2023
Strategic Workforce Development 3/27/2023
Local Aid Support 4/03/2023

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; April 6, 2023
Washington, DC

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Jeffrey A. Zaharewicz
(202) 366-1325

Page last modified on April 12, 2023
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