State Transportation Innovation Councils (STICs) in New Jersey, Ohio, and Idaho received 2022 STIC Excellence Awards for demonstrating success in fostering a strong culture of innovation in their transportation communities.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsor the annual award to promote innovation nationwide. This is the seventh year the two organizations have collaborated on the award to recognize excellence within STICs. Acting FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollock announced the award recipients on October 23, 2022, at the AASHTO Annual Meeting.
New Jersey’s STIC implemented a proactive communication strategy and organizational improvements to support institutionalizing innovations statewide.
The New Jersey STIC Communications Plan identified strategies for sharing exemplary innovation technologies and disseminating lessons learned with the broader transportation community. This has led to new member engagement and a steady increase in attendance at the STIC’s quarterly meetings.
To facilitate organizational improvements, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) created a full-time Innovation Coordinator position to build on its culture of innovation and strategically plan an enterprise-level innovation program. In addition, the New Jersey STIC created a new core innovation area related to organizational support and improvement to implement strategic workforce development, virtual public involvement, and other innovations that do not fall into typical transportation discipline areas.
Ohio’s STIC committed to diversifying its membership and developing a new process for evaluating innovations, while also striving to save $100 million in operational costs over a 4-year period to reinvest in the State’s infrastructure.
The Ohio STIC expanded its membership to rural transportation planning organizations (RTPOs) and higher education institutions while strengthening its ties with the Ohio DOT Lean Team and research programs. This expanded membership brought more diverse viewpoints and developed a long-term, collaborative approach to promote innovative ideas statewide.
To create a transparent innovation evaluation process and capture cost savings, the Ohio STIC developed standardized criteria to select STIC Incentive projects, which resulted in more project submittals. The STIC also created a subcommittee with representatives from the Ohio DOT, the County Engineers Association of Ohio, a metropolitan planning organization, and an RTPO to better understand the impact that the projects could have statewide.
The Ohio DOT is capturing cost savings through its internal processes. With more than 2,000 suggestions received, 201 implemented, and 271 under further analysis—the savings as of Spring 2022 totaled $72.2 million that can be invested into Ohio’s infrastructure.
Idaho’s STIC made strides to increase outreach, diversity, and real-world career opportunities through its support of the Idaho Career Opportunities—Next in Construction (ICONIC) training program.
The Idaho STIC’s support of this strategic workforce development initiative allowed the ICONIC training program to triple in size and take a geographic approach by targeting students in the areas where training is held. This was done in effort to keep students close to home and their families during their training.
In 2022, ICONIC delivered a 5-week training program to residents in Idaho Falls that incorporated classroom and hands-on instruction. The Idaho Falls class graduated 15 students, 40-percent of whom were female and 60 percent were minority. Eleven members of the class were employed in the highway construction industry within 30 days of graduating.
The ICONIC program was expanded to include hands-on training in heavy equipment operation and concrete cement masonry. It also provided opportunities for students to network. The classroom instruction and in-field training prepared the students to partner with the Idaho Transportation Department’s district staff to replace a sidewalk at an interstate rest area near Idaho Falls. Inviting contractors to observe the in-field training gave students an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
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 (2023) Innovator Newsletter, January/February 2023, Volume 16 (94). https://doi.org/10.21949/1521898