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STICs Open Roadways to Innovation

The State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive program provides resources to help STICs make proven innovations standard practice in their States. The program offers funding of up to $100,000 a year per STIC to offset some of the costs of these efforts. Recently completed STIC Incentive projects demonstrate how far this funding can go in helping to improve safety and efficiency and accelerate construction. These include a Kansas coordinate mapping system that minimizes distortion, new uses for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in New Jersey, a Missouri system for improving traffic incident management data collection, and the development of design-build documentation in Vermont.

Kansas Improves Statewide Mapping System

The Kansas DOT (KDOT) used STIC funds to design the Kansas Regional Coordinate System (KRCS), a statewide mapping system made up of low-distortion projections (LDPs).

Map distance does not equal ground distance in the real world due to topographical features. The difference between the map (grid) and horizontal surface (ground) is called linear distortion. This linear distortion must be accounted for, for example, when developing construction plans and surveys. LDP systems are one tool for minimizing this “grid versus ground” distance problem.

Traditionally, KDOT scaled State Plane Coordinate System coordinates to ground measurements to reduce linear distortion. However, this approach was not ideal for large land areas and often required a new coordinate system be created and managed for every project. The results were also not fully compatible with spatial software platforms such as a geographic information system (GIS).

The KRCS divided Kansas into 20 zones that optimally minimize distortion, especially over large areas. The system eliminates the need to keep creating new coordinate systems and is compatible with a wide range of commonly used commercial surveying, engineering, and GIS software.

LDP systems such as the KRCS can also simplify data management and facilitate data transfer between internal groups and outside organizations. Learn more on the KRCS website.

Missouri Advances Traffic Data Collection

The Missouri DOT (MoDOT) used STIC funds to combine incident and work zone data with probe data in one system that enables better analysis, reporting, and situational awareness.

Probe data is data generated by monitoring the position of individual vehicles (probes) over a certain space and time. These measurements can then be converted into performance measures. MoDOT uses the Regional Integrated Transportation Information System (RITIS) to access third-party probe data as well as the National Performance Management Research Data Set.

With this project, MoDOT added to RITIS all work zone and incident data generated by the Advanced Traffic Management Systems in three of its Transportation Management Centers (TMCs) as well as its Traveler Information Map.

MoDOT worked with University of Maryland to transfer the data to RITIS in a usable format. Data is directly transferred once per minute by the TMCs. It is then incorporated into existing tools, including tools that are newly accessible due to the increase in data and access. MoDOT utilizes the combined data on performance measures in the “Operating a Reliable Transportation System” section of its statewide tracker.

MoDOT staff in its Southwest District are using the RITIS tools as part of their traffic incident management strategies. After-action reviews for incidents now include visualizations of congestion from crashes, which helps illustrate the impact of lane closures and lane clearance to both MoDOT personnel and external partners.

New Jersey Expands UAS Capabilities

The New Jersey DOT (NJDOT) used STIC funds to purchase equipment for field operations and provide training for UAS remote pilots. These efforts helped launch the NJDOT Bureau of Aeronautics UAS Program.

This video on drone technology at the New Jersey DOT highlights the agency’s efforts to integrate UAS into its operations and the role of STIC funding in supporting that mission.

Credit: New Jersey Department of Transportation

NJDOT has pursued a variety of UAS applications to improve safety and efficiency. Its program has demonstrated UAS feasibility for structural inspections, real-time construction project monitoring, traffic incident management, aerial three-dimensional (3D) mapping, traffic congestion assessments, and more. An agency video, Drone Technology at NJDOT, highlights these efforts to integrate UAS into its operations.

An NJDOT report, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS): Purchase and Training, describes the use of STIC funding to help establish the UAS program as well as current and planned UAS applications and benefits. The report describes the pilot training curriculum and two applications—high mast light pole (HMLP) inspection and traffic incident management—and offers lessons learned and best practices.

Vermont Develops Design-Build Documentation

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) used STIC Incentive funds for its design-build documentation effort. Design-build is an alternative contracting method that combines the design and construction phases of a project into a single contract, potentially saving time and cost compared to traditional design-bid-build delivery. VTrans developed standard processes and documents that program managers and groups could use to properly implement this innovative contracting method.

VTrans formed a small working group, consisting of two VTrans staff members and a consultant, to spearhead the effort. The documents developed include design-build definitions for VTrans’ standard specification book, a sample request for qualifications (RFQ), and a process for using alternative technical concepts with design-build. The tools produced include RFQ scoring criteria, an example design-build schedule, and an Alternative Delivery Decision Matrix—a tool that allows project managers to determine which alternative contracting method (between design-build or construction manager/general contractor) is appropriate for a proposed project.

All of the materials developed can be found on the VTrans design-build resources website.


Check out the State Innovation Accomplishments map to see what tools and practices STICs in other States are advancing.

Download a list of State and local Homegrown Innovations from the 2020 National STIC Showcase.

Contact Sara Lowry of the Federal Highway Administration for information on the STIC Incentive program.

Notice: The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this article only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Recommended Citation: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration - Washington, DC (2022) Innovator Newsletter, July/August 2022, Volume 16 (91). https://doi.org/10.21949/1521845