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States Innovate!

California Spotlights Successful Innovations

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) 2022 Innovation Expo highlighted innovations that have proved successful in a variety of areas such as operations, public engagement, and safety. Among these are using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to improve safety and productivity for maintenance inspections and rockfall mitigation efforts. When standard surveying methods were ruled out due to hazardous site conditions, Caltrans implemented virtual reality technology and three-dimensional UAS modeling to conduct surveys for rare plants and monitor vegetation growth for rockfall projects. The agency’s State Route 11 project at Enrico Fermi was spotlighted for its innovative diverging diamond interchange (DDI) design. The DDI incorporates border wait time technologies that enhance regional mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving driver safety along this busy bi-national route. The expo also highlighted a new virtual public involvement approach that used QR codes placed on the ground within the bike and pedestrian right-of-way. People walking and biking could see and scan the QR codes with their devices to access a survey, provide responses, and learn about the project. The QR code method proved to be an effective, low-cost solution for targeted stakeholder outreach with minimal need for installation and upkeep. Learn more about these and other innovations featured at the expo by listening to session recordings and browsing the Virtual Exhibit Hall.

The Caltrans 2022 Innovation Expo highlighted projects such as an innovative diverging diamond interchange design that was incorporated into a border crossing project near San Diego.

Credit: California Department of Transportation and San Diego Association of Governments

Delaware Deploys e-Ticketing

After e-Ticketing officially went live for all hot-mix projects for the Delaware DOT (DelDOT) in late Spring of 2022, field inspectors immediately asked for additional integrations of collected field data that directly populates DelDOT’s electronic systems. DelDOT is accommodating those requests by completing a connection between its e-Ticket and e-Construction platforms that will reduce user input required for payment to a handful of mouse clicks. Not only will this be quicker, but it will also improve accuracy by reducing the opportunity for human error in transferring values between paper and computer. DelDOT sees e-Ticketing as an opportunity to improve staff safety, increase information access throughout the chain of command, and reduce its administrative and paperwork burden. In addition, DelDOT is considering the expansion of data associated with e-Ticketing to include location of materials placed, integrated live data stream from the pavers, and coordinated sharing of data with law enforcement for size and weight enforcement.

Virginia Uses Value Capture for a Multimodal Corridor

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is using value capture techniques to fund its Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. The project is being delivered under a 50-year design-build-finance-operate-maintain public-private partnership concession. It provides 22.5 miles of new express lanes on Interstate 66, which were completed in November 2022, in addition to bicycle and pedestrian paths, safety and operational improvements, 4,000 park and ride spaces, and new and expanded commuter bus service. According to a VDOT news release, the project will deliver about $3.7 billion worth of transportation improvements benefiting the northern Virginia I-66 corridor that will be financed by a consortium of private developers.

Wyoming Pilots Automated Variable Speed Limits

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) announced a pilot program to semi-automate variable speed limit (VSL) signs this winter. VSL changes are normally prompted by WYDOT and Wyoming Highway Patrol personnel driving on that section of highway based on specific criteria, such as weather or traffic conditions. The new automated program uses data from WYDOT sensors to adjust the speed indicated on the VSLs when those personnel may not be in the area to initiate the changes themselves. The speed limit changes prompted by the program can still be altered by agency personnel on the ground. The weather-responsive management strategies used by WYDOT include a Mobile Road Condition Reporting App for electronic tablets installed in maintenance vehicles that allows field crews to report road condition information remotely. WYDOT developed the mobile app to free-up radio traffic, save employee time, and help provide information to the public quickly.

Massachusetts Enhances Public Engagement

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) launched its 2050 Statewide Long Range Transportation Plan effort by including virtual public involvement techniques such as online surveys, meetings in a box, and pop-up outreach alongside traditional in-person methods. The pop-up outreach included a series of community-centered engagements designed to broaden representation. These engagements involved outreach street teams setting up a kiosk at various locations across the State, sharing information about the plan, and offering incentives for passersby and others to participate in the public survey. MassDOT then held a virtual public meeting to present survey results and maintain engagement.

The Ohio DOT began a recent video newscast with an update on the benefits of a restricted crossing U-turn intersection 1-year after installation.

Credit: Ohio Department of Transportation

Ohio Highlights Innovative Intersection Design

A recent video newscast by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) featured the benefits of an intersection safety improvement project called a restricted crossing U-turn (RCUT). RCUTs are reduced left-turn conflict intersection designs that simplify decision-making for drivers and minimize the potential for higher-severity crash types, such as head-on and angle. ODOT’s report pointed out that in the year after this particular RCUT was installed, there were only two crashes and neither resulted in injuries, only property damage. ODOT’s website provides more information and a factsheet on RCUTs as well as on median U-turns, another non-traditional design for enhancing safety at intersections along multi-lane divided roadways.

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