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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-003    Date:  March/April 2015
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-003
Issue No: Vol. 78 No. 5
Date: March/April 2015


Guest Editorial

All Innovation Is Local

Photo. Headshot of Greg Nadeau, Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.One of the most famous quotes in U.S. political history came from the late Speaker of the House of Representatives, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., who famously said, “All politics is local.” Something very similar could be said about deploying innovation to improve the Nation’s system of roads and bridges: All innovation is local.

The concept is simple. States and local organizations know their particular needs, regulations, and circumstances better than anyone. And so they are best suited to choose and deploy new ideas and technologies that improve the way they plan, design, build, and maintain their transportation infrastructure.

This issue of PUBLIC ROADS offers several articles highlighting how transportation organizations across the country are saving time and money, and enhancing the safety of both workers and the traveling public, by choosing and using innovations that work for them.

In the article titled “Leading with Innovation at the Helm” on page 10, Michael Hancock, immediate past president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, outlines how his State deploys innovation to better serve the people and businesses of Kentucky. Hancock also provides a list of keys to successfully applying innovation within any organization.

In “On the Frontlines of Innovation” on page 2, Jeffrey Paniati and Frederick G. “Bud” Wright, executive directors of the Federal Highway Administration and AASHTO, respectively, discuss three major national deployment programs. Combined, the programs provide more than 130 innovations from which organizations can choose, enabling them to use their resources more efficiently and effectively to meet the expectations of the traveling public.

Paniati and Wright also discuss the importance of the national innovation deployment network made up of 46 State Transportation Innovation Councils, known as STICs. I believe the councils play an important role in innovation deployment. Each STIC pulls together under one banner all the stakeholders involved in a State’s highway program. The STIC puts the “all innovation is local” philosophy into practice by taking a comprehensive look at all sources of innovation and deploying the ones that best fit the State’s needs. The authors highlight several projects from across the country in which agencies and their partners have done outstanding work responding to customer needs by employing innovative approaches.

Other articles in this issue tackle diverse topics such as rural safety innovations, handling traffic incidents in a safe and efficient way, and selecting research methodologies to measure driver behavior. The menu of articles offers plenty of food for thought, and the common ingredient is innovation.

As you read, enjoy, and absorb these articles, perhaps something will capture your interest and you will think, “I bet that could work for us!” That’s the goal. By all means, seek out more information, arrange for a demonstration, or attend a webinar on the topic. As always, each article provides contact information for the authors—a great way to get the ball rolling.

But most important, think about ways that innovation can work to improve transportation in your community.

Gregory Nadeau
Acting Administrator
Federal Highway Administration



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