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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-006    Date:  September 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-006
Issue No: Vol. 81 No. 2
Date: September 2017


What's New Today Is Mainstream Tomorrow

by Thomas Harman

The third round of Every Day Counts produced record milestones in the number of States incorporating innovations, creating momentum for the next round.

Photo. A bicyclist rides in a bike lane, while several cars drive in the adjacent travel lanes. The road has a single through lane in each direction and a shared left-turn lane in the center. Parallel parking is also available on both sides of the road.
Many innovations promoted in EDC-3 are now in mainstream use across the country. For example, road diets, which reconfigure roadways' cross sections to improve use for all users, are now standard practice in 21 States.

Faced with today’s fiscal realities and customer demands for safe and efficient travel, transportation agencies are seeking ways to deliver programs and projects more effectively and deploy technologies and practices that save lives, time, and money. The Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program–after completing a successful third round in 2016–has proven this initiative works to solve those challenges. One after another, State and local agencies have challenged conventional practices and embraced innovations, often adopting them as new norms.

EDC–now in its fourth 2-year deployment cycle–provides tools and resources to help transportation stakeholders harness innovation to meet today’s challenges. Through this initiative, FHWA partners with State agencies and other stakeholders to rapidly deploy proven innovations that enhance safety, shorten project delivery, and reduce congestion. The effort aims to foster a culture in which the transportation community embraces innovation.

EDC is tailored to State and local needs, enabling agencies to determine which innovations to deploy and how. FHWA supports deployment efforts with technical assistance provided by teams of experts and incentives offered through the Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration grant and State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) incentive programs.

FHWA launched EDC in 2009, and the program is included in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The legislation directs FHWA to continue to work with stakeholders to deploy new practices and technologies and create a culture of innovation in the transportation community.

“Every Day Counts and other technology initiatives have really been critical in helping States save money and save time,” says Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Innovation Milestones

Every Day Counts round three (EDC-3), which promoted 11 market-ready innovations in 2015 and 2016, had a significant positive impact on the transportation community’s adoption of new technologies and practices. Every State adopted one or more of the EDC-3 innovations during the 2-year cycle, and many are now widely used across the Nation. In addition, many States began developing plans for future implementation of EDC-3 innovations by collecting information, participating in training, and learning about other States’ deployment experiences.

Combined, every State has used 10 or more of the 32 innovations promoted in the first three rounds of EDC, while some have adopted more than 20! Several of the innovations, such as road diets and data-driven safety analysis, are now mainstream practices in many States.

Another EDC-3 milestone was the completion of the national network of STICs, which brings together stakeholders and champions in each State to evaluate innovations and spearhead deployment. STICs are active in all 50 States; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; and Federal Lands Highway, expanding the use of new technologies and practices, and fostering a culture of innovation.

“We’re being more effective, we’re being more efficient, we’re saving lives, and we’re really moving our transportation network in Pennsylvania into the 21st century,” says Leslie Richards, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “The State Transportation Innovation Council is a big piece of that.”

Increasing Mobility and Safety with Road Diets

The widespread use of road diets is one EDC-3 success story. A road diet is a low-cost strategy that reconfigures a roadway cross section to better accommodate all users’ needs, increase mobility, reduce crashes, and improve the quality of life in communities. In EDC-3, FHWA encouraged State and local agencies to consider road diets as a safety-focused alternative to better accommodate motorists and nonmotorists on mixed-use streets by reducing vehicle speeds and freeing space for alternative modes.

Road diets are now a standard practice in 21 States and Washington, DC. Another 25 States are demonstrating road diets on pilot projects and developing processes for identifying potential sites for roadway reconfiguration. FHWA continues to promote road diets in EDC round four (EDC-4) as one of the countermeasures in the Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian–or STEP–program.

Every Day Counts Innovation Implementation Stages
Not Implementing The State pursuing the EOC (in some Cases State bas already implemented the innovation).
Development Stage The State is guidance and best practices, building support With partners and stakeholders, and developing an implementation process.
Demonstration Stage The State is testing and piloting the innovation
Assessment Stage The State is assessing the performance of and process for carrying out the innovation and making adjustments to prepare for full deployment.
Institutionalized The State has adopted the innovation as a standard process or practice and uses it regularly on projects.
Source: FHWA.


The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) is one of the agencies that set a goal to institutionalize road diets during EDC-3. After reviewing other States’ road diet policies and learning about their deployment experiences through a peer exchange, NMDOT developed its Road Diet Guide for practitioners to use in assessing the appropriateness of facilities for roadway reconfiguration. NMDOT introduced the guide in workshops for practitioners with the agency, planning organizations, local and tribal governments, and private industry. NMDOT also included road diets in its Strategic Highway Safety Plan as a crash-reducing countermeasure.

Targeting Investments with Data-Driven Safety Analysis

Another EDC-3 safety innovation many agencies pursued is data-driven safety analysis, which promotes the integration of safety performance into highway investment decisions with the goal of saving lives. Data-driven safety analysis uses the latest generation of software tools to analyze crash and roadway data.

EDC-3 focused on expanding the use of two approaches to data-driven safety analysis–predictive and systemic. Predictive approaches combine crash, roadway inventory, and traffic volume data to provide more reliable estimates of an existing or proposed road’s expected safety performance. Systemic approaches screen a road network for features associated with severe crashes and identify low-cost safety treatments. Transportation agencies can apply the two approaches individually or in combination to better target highway safety investments and reduce crashes.

Innovation Deployment Assistance

FHWA offers assistance and resources to help States and their partners deploy the innovations in the Every Day Counts program.

FHWA assembles deployment teams for each EDC innovation to provide the transportation community with information, technical assistance, and training, including workshops and peer exchanges. Visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/contacts.cfm#edc4 for a list of experts to call for assistance on innovations in current and past EDC rounds. For more details on the EDC program, contact Julie Zirlin, program coordinator for the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation (CAI), at julie.zirlin@dot.gov.

The AID Demonstration program awards funding up to $1 million for projects that use proven innovations in any project phase. Visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/grants/projects for an overview of 69 projects that received more than $47 million in AID Demonstration grants. For more details on the AID Demonstration program, contact Fawn Thompson, CAI program coordinator, at fawn.thompson@dot.gov.

The STIC Incentive Program provides up to $100,000 a year per State to help STICs make innovations standard practices. Visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/stic/incentive_2017.cfm for examples of how STICs are using incentive funds. For information on the STIC Incentive program, contact Sara Lowry, CAI program coordinator, at sara.lowry@dot.gov.

Another option is the use of an increased Federal share of up to 5 percent for projects that use innovative project delivery methods. This option incentivizes the use of innovation to help deliver projects more efficiently and deploy proven solutions that make a difference. For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/resources/increased_federal_share.cfm or contact Jeff Zaharewicz, CAI senior advisor, at jeffrey.zaharewicz@dot.gov.


By the end of EDC-3, 14 States had institutionalized the use of data-driven safety analysis in safety management processes, while another 29 States and Washington, DC, were demonstrating and assessing the innovation. Nine States made data-driven safety analysis a standard practice in project development, and another 29 States and Washington, DC, were demonstrating and assessing it for full deployment. The effort to expand use of data-driven safety analysis continues in EDC-4.

During EDC-3, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) expanded data-driven safety analysis in its project development process by adopting the use of safety-integrated project maps on routine maintenance and resurfacing projects. The maps use predictive crash analysis methods from AASHTO’s Highway Safety Manual to identify priority locations where safety improvements should be considered when programming a project that overlaps the areas. ODOT updated its applicable manuals and guidelines, and trained practitioners to implement this change to better target investments in safety improvements.

Photo. A man wearing headphones points to a graph of crash data on a computer screen.
Data-driven safety analysis with advanced software tools can provide transportation agencies with the reliable data they need to make effective investments in safety improvements.


Enhancing Safety with Smarter Work Zones

EDC-3 encouraged the adoption of two strategies for smarter and more efficient work zones to enhance safety and generate time and cost savings: technology applications and project coordination.

Technology applications involve using intelligent transportation systems to manage work zone traffic. The technologies include (1) queue management systems that alert drivers to work zone backups so they can slow down safely and (2) speed management solutions, such as variable speed limit signs, which manage work zone traffic in real time.

Project coordination involves construction planning that minimizes the impact of work zones and generates time and cost savings through approaches such as coordinating work among agencies and combining multiple projects in an area.

By the end of EDC-3, 11 States had mainstreamed the use of technology tools and strategies to create smarter work zones and manage their impacts on traffic. Another 28 States, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC, were demonstrating and assessing the use of technology applications in work zones. Nine States had made it a standard practice to use project coordination to reduce work zone impacts, while another 18 States and Washington, DC, were demonstrating and assessing project coordination strategies.

WisDOT used queue warning systems, including portable signs with the “stopped or slow traffic when flashing” message shown here, to improve work zone safety on two pilot projects.
WisDOT used queue warning systems, including portable signs with the “stopped or slow traffic when flashing” message shown here, to improve work zone safety on two pilot projects.


The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) completed two pilot projects for queue warning systems in EDC-3 and began an evaluation of the safety, speed, and capacity improvements associated with each deployment. An initial evaluation showed a notable reduction in weekday crashes compared to another project in a similar area that did not use a queue warning system. WisDOT is working with a university partner to develop a decision support tool for the queue warning system to help identify future candidate projects.

Using GRS–IBS Technology

Interest from transportation agencies continued to grow for geosynthetic reinforced soil–integrated bridge system (GRS–IBS) technology during EDC-3. The technology, an EDC innovation since 2011, can help meet the country’s need to build and replace small bridges by constructing low-cost, durable structures with readily available equipment and materials. GRS–IBS can save up to 60 percent in cost compared to standard construction, and the technology potentially requires less maintenance over its life cycle.

In EDC-3, 11 States adopted GRS–IBS technology as a standard practice and used it regularly where appropriate. An additional 25 States; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; and Federal Lands Highway demonstrated GRS–IBS on projects or assessed their agency’s use of the technology.

Oldcastle Architectural, Inc.
Photo of the McCormick Quarry Bridge after replacement.
Using geosynthetic reinforced soil–integrated bridge system technology enabled RIDOT to reduce the closure time significantly when it replaced the McCormick Quarry Bridge.


When the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), for example, replaced the East Shore Expressway and McCormick Quarry Bridges in East Providence, the agency used GRS–IBS abutments to reduce the travel disruptions to the public. The bridges, which carry traffic between the East Shore Expressway and I–195, needed to be replaced because they were structurally deficient.

Using GRS–IBS enabled RIDOT to construct the abutments for the new bridges under the existing structures while the agency built the components of the new bridges on an adjacent lot. Once RIDOT completed the prefabricated bridge pieces, the agency closed the roads while crews demolished the existing structures and assembled the prefabricated components on the foundations. Using innovative methods cut the closure times for each bridge from an estimated 1-year replacement time to just 80 hours, saving significant construction time and related traffic delays for motorists.

Expanding 3D Model Applications

Three-dimensional (3D) engineered models are used widely by the transportation community to connect the planning, design, and construction phases of a project more effectively. Transportation agencies can apply 3D modeling to other phases of the project delivery cycle to positively affect safety, costs, contracting, maintenance, and asset management. Using 3D models can produce 4 to 6 percent savings on total project costs, and contractors have reported 15 to 25 percent increased efficiency in earthmoving operations.

A collection of four computer-rendered models showing various highway infrastructure designs.
During EDC-3, transportation agencies expanded use of 3D engineered models, such as the ones shown here, in project planning, design, construction, and postconstruction applications.


After promoting 3D modeling in EDC-2, FHWA continued encouraging the innovation in EDC-3 to expand its use in planning, design, and construction. FHWA also encouraged agencies to adopt three additional practices: (1) using 3D survey data for roadway inventory and asset management purposes, (2) incorporating schedule and cost information in models to streamline construction schedules and improve cost estimating, and (3) using post-construction survey data to correct design models and create accurate as-built records.

By the end of EDC-3, 29 States and Federal Lands Highway were demonstrating and assessing 3D models in project planning, design, and construction, and another 6 States had institutionalized 3D models in those project phases.

EDC-3 also generated progress in using 3D models in schedule, cost, and post-production applications. Six States were demonstrating and assessing 3D models in schedule and cost applications by the end of the 2-year cycle, and New York and Wisconsin had institutionalized the practice. Seven States were demonstrating and assessing 3D models in post-construction applications, and New York had made it a standard practice.

A task force at the Arizona Department of Transportation spearheaded the deployment of 3D models for planning, design, and construction, focusing the agency’s efforts on areas where 3D models could add value. One approach the agency pursued was providing electronic files to contractors at the prebid stage for the majority of large projects. Benefits included reducing printing costs and the time and cost of converting paper plans to electronic files. Providing files with vector control data on geographical features also enabled contractors to create 3D models more efficiently, improving bid quality and lowering costs.

Using e-Construction technologies enables project teams to streamline tasks such as accessing plans and recording data at jobsites, as these project managers are doing on their mobile tablets.
Using e-Construction technologies enables project teams to streamline tasks such as accessing plans and recording data at jobsites, as these project managers are doing on their mobile tablets.


Going Paperless with e-Construction

During EDC-3, FHWA also encouraged transportation agencies to exchange the paper-based approach to the management of construction documents with e-Construction. The e-Construction innovation is the collection, review, approval, and distribution of construction documents in a paperless environment. The EDC-3 effort, which continues in EDC-4, involved using readily available technologies to improve document management, saving money and improving communication.

Eleven States made e-Construction a standard practice in EDC-3. An additional 21 States, Washington, DC, and Federal Lands Highway were demonstrating and assessing e-Construction tools by the end of 2016.

The Florida Department of Transportation reports using e-Construction saves an estimated $22 million a year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation saves an estimated $18 million a year, and the Michigan Department of Transportation saves $12 million and 6 million pieces of paper a year. Across the 11 States using e-Construction as a standard practice, that equates to an estimated savings of about $190 million and nearly 8,000 trees a year.

The Iowa Department of Transportation considers itself 100-percent paperless from the pre- to post-construction stages. The agency achieved that goal in August 2016 when it added a requirement for all contracts to be signed digitally. It was the first State highway agency to require digital signatures on all construction contracts.

The Iowa DOT, which is working on a return-on-investment analysis to quantify its savings with e-Construction, uses mapping software on its mobile tablets to collect location data on pavement cores and samples and post-construction documentation on culverts, signs, and traffic signals. In addition, the agency is applying what it learned from a pilot project using paperless tickets for hot-mix asphalt at jobsites as it develops a specification for electronic ticketing.

Building on Success

After the successes of EDC’s third round, FHWA is using that momentum to motivate the transportation community to deploy a new set of 11 innovations in 2017 and 2018 (EDC-4). FHWA experts continue to assist State agencies and their partners in implementing the innovations from EDC-4 and earlier rounds to enhance the Nation’s transportation system and better serve those who use it.

“It’s clear that when you deploy innovation and accelerated construction techniques,” says Shailen Bhatt, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, “the public notices and that buys you credibility.”

In addition to FHWA’s ongoing partnerships and assistance, the national STIC network is leveraging the expertise of stakeholders throughout the country to foster an ongoing culture of innovation in the transportation community. As STICs mature, many are expanding their membership to a wider variety of public and private stakeholders and exploring opportunities to work with other STICs in their regions to advance innovation.

“One of the things that’s been very beneficial in our partnership with the Federal Highway Administration is the idea of Every Day Counts,” says Malcolm Dougherty, director of the California Department of Transportation. “The initiative is not limited to the 11 ideas in EDC-3. It’s a mindset. It’s a culture of innovation.”

Thomas Harman is director of the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation. His transportation career spans more than 30 years in technology and innovation research, deployment, and education. Harman holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois.

For more information, see Every Day Counts: Creating Efficiency Through Technology and Collaboration–EDC-3 Final Report (FHWA-17-CAI-005) at www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/reports/edc3_final.



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