The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) kicked off round seven of the Every Day Counts program (EDC-7) with a virtual summit in February that introduced the seven ready-to-deploy innovations being promoted in 2023 and 2024. The 3-day event included more than 2,900 registered attendees from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico representing State departments of transportation (DOTs), over 200 local agencies, 80 metropolitan planning organizations, tribes, academia, industry associations, the private sector, and other Federal agencies.
Each day included keynote speakers from FHWA and State DOT leadership and other innovation champions from the public and private sectors, as well as breakout sessions with EDC-7 implementation teams. The summit also featured short presentations from State and local agencies on Homegrown Innovations and virtual EDC-7 booths with fact sheets, videos, and more. Sessions can be viewed on demand by registering on the virtual summit homepage.
Improving safety for all users was the theme for day one of the summit and the focus of the keynote address by FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt. Bhatt reminded attendees that safety is the U.S. DOT’s and FHWA’s highest priority and a key component of EDC. He noted that an average of 117 people lose their lives each day on roads throughout the United States and invited summit participants to join the U.S. DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy Call to Action, which asks stakeholders to voluntarily commit to specific actions in 2023 to help reverse injuries and deaths on the Nation’s roads.
Bhatt also noted that he has a unique connection to EDC as he was part of the FHWA administration under which it began more than 10 years ago as an effort to remove barriers to innovation. He said that the two safety-centric innovations in EDC-7, which focus on nighttime visibility and traffic incident management (TIM) strategies, are great examples of the kind of market-ready and proven but underutilized technologies the program was designed to support.
The nighttime visibility for safety initiative will promote countermeasures that improve nighttime visibility to safely connect people to the community and essential services. It will place more emphasis on visibility improvements in close proximity to activity locations such as schools, parks, transit stops, sports complexes and entertainment (urban core).
Next-generation TIM: technology for saving lives focuses on new technologies such as emergency vehicle lighting and queue warning solutions. These and other tools can advance safety and operations to mitigate incident impacts.
Day two of the summit spotlighted three EDC-7 innovations that can help agencies build sustainable infrastructure for the future. Enhancing performance with internally cured concrete (EPIC2) addresses cracking, which is a limiting factor in achieving long-term concrete performance. Internal curing mitigates shrinkage cracking and has the potential to substantially extend the service life of concrete bridge decks and enhance the performance of pavements and repairs.
Amy Lucero, Associate Administrator of FHWA’s Office of Innovation and Workforce Solutions, noted during the day’s opening session that transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the United States, therefore transportation leaders and professionals have a key role to play in combating climate change. The integrating GHG assessment and reduction targets in transportation planning initiative provides resources to help agencies quantify GHGs and set goals to decrease motor vehicle, construction, and life-cycle emissions through planning and project development.
Construction materials such as concrete and asphalt have environmental impacts during their life cycle, and environmental product declarations (EPDs) provide a way to document those impacts. The EPDs for sustainable project delivery initiative will support procurement decisions and quantify embodied carbon reductions using life-cycle assessments for sustainable pavements.
Day three included discussions on challenges, opportunities, and innovative solutions to attracting, developing, and retaining an inclusive workforce. As part of EDC-7, the strategic workforce development initiative will boost stakeholders’ ability to identify, train, and place new highway construction workers. New resources are available that can help State, local, and tribal communities compete with other industries and demonstrate the value of a career in transportation.
Anwar Ahmad, Acting Director of FHWA’s Office of Innovation Management, Education, and Partnerships, noted in his remarks that studies have shown that small business growth supports a healthy economy, economic opportunity, and wealth creation for generations to come. Because many design-build contracts do not provide adequate opportunities for disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), the rethinking DBE for design-build initiative will share innovative tools and practices for modifying traditional DBE commitments to align with the design-build process and improve participation.
EDC-7 virtual summit content is available for viewing through February 2024. Register for the event and watch a selection of opening and breakout sessions, view presentations and posters on State and local Homegrown Innovations, and browse virtual exhibit booths on each EDC-7 innovation.
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, May/June 2023, Volume 16 (96). https://doi.org/10.21949/1521747