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The Power of Demonstration: Celebrating 10 Years of Deploying Innovative Practices and Technologies

It has been said that transportation is a testament to human ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and redefining limits. FHWA’s Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration program is at the intersection of innovation and transportation, playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of the world’s leading transportation system.

Since AID Demonstration launched in 2014, FHWA has awarded more than $95.7 million for 127 grants to help agencies accelerate the use of innovative transportation practices, tools, and technologies, including those promoted under FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program. The AID Demonstration program relates to all aspects of highway transportation, including planning, finance, operations, structures, materials, pavements, environment, construction, and the duration of time between project planning and project delivery.

AID Demonstration is a competitive discretionary grant program, which allows Tribal Governments, Federal land management agencies, State departments of transportation (DOTs), and local governments, as State DOT subrecipients, to accelerate the implementation and adoption of proven innovation in highway transportation and demonstrate state-of-the-art technologies. The grants help these entities offset the risk of trying or implementing proven innovations for the first time. As the AID Demonstration program approaches its 10th anniversary in 2024, this milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on its diverse portfolio of awardees and look ahead to its future.

“Innovation is essential for the future of transportation infrastructure and these grants will help our State, local, and Tribal partners to improve safety, increase the resilience of our transportation infrastructure, and combat the climate crisis,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt in an agency news release. “The grants, along with additional funding from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will bring more innovations to America’s road, highway, and bridge projects.”

AID Demo Accelerated Innovation Deployment

Over the years, there has been a considerable amount of diversity in AID Demonstration grant recipients and projects.

In 2023, the Texas DOT’s (TxDOT’s) traffic speed deflection device project was selected to collect data on the structural condition of pavements across two of its districts using a non-contact Doppler laser without the need for traffic control. Data collected from this project are expected to improve TxDOT’s annual pavement treatment planning program.

In 2017, the Missouri DOT (MoDOT) and the city of Mexico were selected to implement the use of compacted concrete pavement on Holt Street, a two-lane concrete roadway connecting Business Route 54 to one of the city’s major manufacturing plants, which was deteriorating from years of heavy truck traffic. This project included roadway and sidewalk improvements while utilizing two EDC initiatives: pavement preservation and Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian.

The U.S. Forest Service (2014) and Ohkay Owingeh Tribe (2015) received awards to implement two innovations promoted under EDC: the Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS), an innovation that reduces construction time and cost, allowing projects to be completed in weeks due to the ease of construction and the use of readily available materials and equipment, and prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES), which offers time and cost savings, safety advantages, and traveler convenience.

The Forest Service’s Layout Creek Bridge replacement was an aquatic restoration project to return the undersized crossing to a more natural state through the replacement of the culvert with a substructure designed using GRS-IBS, while the superstructure was designed with PBES.

Using GRS-IBS, the Ohkay Owingeh Tribe was able to reduce construction time for the White Swan Bridge by 2.5 months, and the cost was less than half that of a conventional bridge. Workforce development was an additional benefit of the project, as the Tribe employed the use of their own crew for construction.

Another important function of AID Demonstration, which may be less obvious on the surface, is to promote and support technology transfer.

“FHWA does not only want to award grants, but to also share the demonstration experiences,” said AID Demonstration Program Coordinator Fawn Thompson. “Sharing these stories promotes tech transfer, as we ultimately want to see these innovations move to widespread use. Each project is one more data point transportation agencies can use to make the case for implementing innovations.”

The current AID Demonstration notice of funding opportunity extends through fiscal year (FY) 2026, and the funding amount for each year is anticipated to grow from $10 million in FY 2023 to $12.5 million in FY 2024–2026.

“This multi-year AID Demonstration funding opportunity further demonstrates FHWA’s commitment to provide tools in support of transportation innovation,” Thompson said. AID Demonstration is one of FHWA’s tools to support transportation agencies that push boundaries and redefine limits for the benefit of transportation improvements.

To see additional examples of AID Demonstration awards, visit FHWA’s AID Demonstration project webpage. The list of awards can be sorted by award recipient or innovation, and many projects on the list include links to additional information.


Read FHWA’s official news release on the latest round of AID Demonstration grants.

Visit the AID Demonstration program webpage for details on how to apply for the current round of funding.

Contact Fawn Thompson of FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation for information on the AID Demonstration program.

Go to grants.gov to apply for an AID Demonstration grant.

Disclaimer: The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this document only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document. They are included for informational purposes only and are not intended to reflect a preference, approval, or endorsement of any one product or entity.

Except for the statutes and regulations cited, the contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the States or the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide information regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

Recommended Citation: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration - Washington, DC (2023) Innovator Newsletter, January/February 2024, Volume 17 (100). https://doi.org/10.21949/1521769