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FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC News: June 29, 2023

EDC News

June 29, 2023

EDC-6: Virtual Public Involvement

Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) offers alternatives to in-person meetings, but eachmeeting type has disadvantages that must be weighed against their benefits. One solutionto this challenge is offering hybrid meetings, which can offer a "best of both worlds," approach.

As in-person meeting restrictions eased following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began using hybrid meetings to leverage the benefits of both in-person and virtual meetings. The in-person component is typically a traditional public meeting, while the virtual element is set up as a website with interactive options. Virtual participants can view presentation boards and access collaboration tools which may include comment forms or telephone hot lines. These tools provide participants a similar experience as if they had attended the meeting in person.

Diagram showing two circles- one containing disadvantages for virtual meetings: internet access/quality; lack of familiarity; reduced interaction; and cultural, such as technology restrictions; the other containing disadvantages for in-person meetings: time commitment; travel costs; personal/work conflicts; and cultural, such as gender segregation. Where the circles overlap in the middle, the diagram indicates hybrid meetings as a potential solution. Hybrid meetings offer solutions to challenges faced by fully virtual or fully in-person meetings.(Credit: FDOT)

Hybrid meetings have yielded multiple benefits for FDOT. They provide constituents withmore choice in when and how they engage in the planning process. This increasedflexibility has resulted in more participation online and more comments received overall,while still allowing those who prefer to engage in-person the option to do so.

FDOT institutionalized the use of hybrid meetings, releasing a Guide to Hybrid PublicMeetings and Hearings, and documenting their use in the public involvement chapter ofthe department’s NEPA manual. Additionally, hybrid meetings were written into its broader Public Involvement Handbook. The agency produces sociocultural reports to understandthe communities they work in, and how best to utilize hybrid meetings and other tools toreach constituents.

Key takeaways from FDOT’s experience with hybrid meetings include the adaptability of this approach and how they help maintain a positive outlook and fresh perspective on engagement. It is important to use public involvement methods that meet communities
where they are and are convenient to them.

To learn more about VPI, please contact Bob Washington, FHWA Office of Project Development & Environmental Review, or Mack Frost, FHWA Office of Planning, Stewardship & Oversight.

Stone Matrix Asphalt Adds Years to Local Roads in Colorado

Across Colorado, local agencies are benefitting from stone matrix asphalt (SMA), one of the promoted technologies from the Targeted Overlay Pavements (TOPS) initiative. SMA benefits include improved skid resistance, durability, and resistance to rutting and cracking. SMA also has superior resistance to deformation caused by heavy traffic loads and can withstand the extreme Colorado temperatures and weather conditions.

While SMA is generally used on highways and interstates, the benefits are also proving valuable on targeted residential roads where local agencies estimate potential lifespans of up to 30 to 40 years.

The City of Lakewood, Colorado, has transitioned nearly all its high-volume arterial roads to SMA and uses it on some collector roads. To reduce rutting and cracking, the city’s SMA program targets high-traffic areas, particularly where commercial traffic is increasing. In total, the city has installed over 150 lane miles of SMA.

Lakewood first experimented with SMA in 2014 on a major arterial with heavy rutting. Now, 9 years later, the road is still performing well with only minor rutting despite heavy commercial use. Based on its pavement condition index, the road’s life expectancy could nearly double while keeping the overall maintenance cost down. Before SMA, Lakewood replaced major arterial roads every 10 years.

You can watch a recent Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association webinar to learn more about local agencies using SMA in Colorado.

Looking for more information? Visit the TOPS resource website for case studies, one-pagers, and webinars. If you have any questions, please contact TOPS co-team lead Tim Aschenbrener (asphalt) or Robert Conway (concrete).

Last Chance– 2023 STIC Excellence Award Nominations

Nominations are open for the 2023 State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Excellence Award. FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovation Initiative partner in sponsoring the award to promote innovation and recognize excellence within the STICs. Nominations may be submitted to FHWA through June 30, 2023. Visit the STIC Excellence Award webpage to read about past recipients.

Discover Home-Grown Innovations from Around the Country

Homegrown Innovations

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.

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

The showcase prominently features several innovations focused on operations. Learn about the Idaho Transportation Department's Federal grant notification letter, which makes it easier and less time-consuming for ITD employees to monitor grant opportunities. This weekly newsletter outlines information on currently available grants, including who is eligible, deadlines, the amount, and where to find additional information.

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.

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:

Next-Gen TIM 6/26/23
CHANGE 6/22/2023

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; June 29, 2023
Washington, DC

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Jeffrey A. Zaharewicz
(202) 366-1325

Page last modified on July 13, 2023
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