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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-20-001    Date:  Autumn 2019
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-20-001
Issue No: Vol. 83 No. 3
Date: Autumn 2019

 

Are You an Innovation Champion?

by Julie Zirlin

State and local agencies embrace new norms throughout the fourth round of Every Day Counts.

Transportation agencies find effective ways to deliver programs and projects that meet the public's need for safe and efficient travel through the Federal Highway Administration's Every Day Counts (EDC) program. EDC is a State-based model that promotes rapid deployment of proven but underutilized innovations to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, or integrate automation. During the fourth round of EDC (EDC-4), which began in 2017, States selected from 11 promoted innovations to best meet their needs and established 2-year goals to demonstrate, assess, or institutionalize the innovations.

Aerial view of the Pulaski Skyway bridge in New Jersey. © WSP USA
The Pulaski Skyway deck replacement in New Jersey is the largest use of ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) on a single project. UHPC is one of 11 innovations FHWA promoted in EDC-4.

EDC-4 deployment had a significant positive impact on the adoption of new technologies and practices within the transportation community. Technical assistance provided by teams of experts

and incentives offered through the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) incentive programs and Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration grants helped States reach their goals. Six of the EDC-4 innovations are now in use in more than 40 States.

"Every Day Counts inspires State and local governments to adopt cutting-edge technologies and practices in their ongoing quest to save lives, shorten project delivery, and minimize cost to the taxpayer," says Nicole Nason, FHWA administrator.

What follows are highlights of five successfully deployed EDC-4 innovations.

Strengthening Bridges

The nationwide growth of using ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) to connect prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES) illustrates the effectiveness of EDC's rapid deployment process. UHPC is a steel fiber-reinforced, portland cement-based material that delivers performance far exceeding that of conventional concrete. Built offsite and moved to the project location for installation, prefabricated bridge elements (PBEs) shorten onsite construction time, enhance safety, and offer superior durability. Field-cast UHPC creates connections between PBEs that use less concrete and provide better long-term performance than typical connections.

The EDC Deployment team set a goal for at least 30 transportation agencies to use UHPC on a minimum of 100 highway bridges in the country. As of January 2019, approximately 31 agencies have used UHPC on 203 bridges. In addition to construction projects, transportation agencies have developed standards and guidelines for using UHPC, and more than 18 agencies have or are currently conducting their own research on UHPC materials or applications.

In 2018, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) completed the 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer)-long Pulaski Skyway deck replacement. This project is currently the largest to use UHPC in North America, using more than 5,000 cubic yards (3,800 cubic meters) of UHPC to connect nearly 1 million square feet (93,000 square meters) of deck panels. The State selected UHPC in conjunction with PBEs, in part, because it provides a durable deck with the longest service life and least maintenance. In addition, the elimination of cast-in-place concrete for the bridge simplified the onsite operations for the project. The skyway has served as an important and informative example for other agencies since selection of UHPC for the project in 2012.

NJDOT completed five other bridges with UHPC in 2018, bringing the State's total to nine bridges using UHPC.

Improving Traffic Signal Operations

How well the Nation's 330,000-plus traffic signals perform used to be a difficult question to quantify. Now, transportation agencies in more than 30 States have access to automated traffic signal performance measures (ATSPMs), a suite of performance measures, data collection tools, and analysis tools.

ATSPMs transform signal maintenance and operations from reactive to proactive. While citizen complaints are typically the primary performance measure for most signals, ATSPMs provide the information needed to manage traffic signal maintenance and operations in a data-driven and cost-effective way. The cost to retime signals is approximately $4,500 per intersection, and typically agencies do this on a 3- to 5-year cycle.

During EDC-4, States implemented ATSPMs to improve traditional retiming processes by providing continuous performance monitoring capability. By the end of EDC-4, 31 States had attained demonstration, assessment, or institutionalized stages of implementation.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) implemented ATSPMs on about 50 traffic signals on 6 arterial corridors in the Denver area. CDOT is updating infrastructure at 100 additional signal locations to collect and analyze high-resolution data logs from signal controllers and to generate reports to evaluate the benefits.

CDOT reports improved response times and cost savings from proactively addressing signal operation and maintenance issues. Public complaints on signals in optimized corridors decreased by as much as 30 percent.

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 for a list of experts to call for assistance on innovations in current and past rounds of EDC. 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.

AID Demonstration program

This 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 92 projects that received more than $66 million in AID Demonstration grants. For more details on the AID Demonstration program, contact Fawn Thompson, CAI program coordinator, at fawn.thompson@dot.gov.

STIC Incentive Program

The STIC 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_project 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 new 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 Sara Lowry, CAI program coordinator, at sara.lowry@dot.gov.

Encouraging Next Generation Hydraulic Engineering

Hydraulic modeling tools used for nearly 60 years apply assumptions that can lead to overly conservative, inadequate, or inaccurate project designs. The Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE) initiative encourages States to shift from the use of one-dimensional modeling to implementing two-dimensional (2D) modeling and graphical visualization tools.

An aerial map showing two-dimensional hydraulic modeling. © Indiana Department of Transportation; Aerial image © Earthstar Graphics.
Taken at the Eel River in Indiana, this two-dimensional hydraulic modeling graphic depicts the hydraulic conditions at a bridge crossing, including a more accurate depiction of flow splits, flow velocity magnitude, and direction.

These 2D tools enable users to create better representations of the often complex interaction between transportation assets and river or coastal environments. These representations provide planning and design teams with better data to improve project quality. Ultimately, the results of these techniques enable more accuracy in estimating flow conditions and paths, evaluating hydraulic considerations, and assessing extreme events and evaluating resilience.

By the end of EDC-4, 9 States had institutionalized the use of collaborative hydraulics, and another 34 were demonstrating and assessing the innovation.

CDOT successfully used 2D modeling to design repairs to river channel bank revetment around bridges that protect bridge foundations after a flood in 2013. Use of the 2D modeling analysis saved CDOT more than $9 million in construction costs on the project along the Big Thompson River between Loveland and Estes Park, CO. Overall, CDOT has documented $13.5 million in construction material savings by applying these methods to reduce risk and uncertainty.

Going Paperless

In e-Construction and Partnering: A Vision for the Future, States use paperless technologies to enhance partnership among stakeholders on construction projects, improving communication and workflows while streamlining project delivery.

e-Construction is the digital creation, review, approval, distribution, and storage of highway construction documents. It uses readily available technology to improve construction document management, saves time by decreasing delays seen in paper-based project administration, and creates a collaborative environment between transportation agencies, contractors, and other stakeholders. Return on investment for construction management, project collaboration, mobile devices, and electronic bidding tools using e-Construction, ranges from 200 to more than 700 percent. The use of e-Construction and Partnering creates a collaborative environment that improves efficiency in project management and delivery.

By the end of EDC-4, 15 States institutionalized the use of e-Construction and Partnering, and another 31 were demonstrating and assessing e-Construction.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has used e-Construction for all construction contracts since July 2016. FDOT provides its field staff with mobile devices for use in the paperless process, which enables instantaneous data collection and the ability to troubleshoot and resolve issues in the field. The agency estimates e-Construction saves $22 million per year.

Recently, FHWA showcased the benefits of e-Construction with the use of the Mobile Solution for Assessment and Reporting (MSAR) application, which played a key role in recent disaster recovery. This app replaced paper-based surveys and inspection reports on disaster damage required for FHWA's Emergency Relief program.

When the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) used the app after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, more than 500 sites were approved for Federal recovery funds within 7 months instead of up to 2 years using a paper-based process. Reducing clerical work and time needed to create reports saved TxDOT about $1.3 million.

An inspector uses a tablet computer onsite at a bridge. Source: FHWA
The MSAR app helped the Texas Department of Transportation obtain approval for Federal recovery funds faster after Hurricane Harvey.

STEP-ping Up Safety

Pedestrians account for more than 16 percent of all traffic fatalities and more than 72 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at nonintersection locations such as midblock areas. Safe transportation for every pedestrian (STEP) features proven, cost-effective countermeasures that can reduce pedestrian fatalities at uncontrolled crossing locations and unsignalized intersections.

In EDC-4, FHWA encouraged States to incorporate one or more of the six safety countermeasures included in STEP to enhance pedestrian safety. STEP includes crosswalk visibility enhancements, raised crosswalks, pedestrian refuge islands, pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs), road diets, and rectangular rapid flashing beacons.

By the end of EDC-4, 42 States had attained demonstration, assessment, or institutionalized stages of implementation.

The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization identified Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, FL, as a high-crash and high-use corridor. FDOT installed PHBs to control traffic at midblock crossings and unsignalized intersections. In addition to the beacons, FDOT upgraded roadway lighting along the corridor and installed pedestrian actuated lighting to illuminate crosswalks when someone presses the pushbutton for the PHB. In the year following the upgrades, Hillsborough Avenue saw a decrease in bicycle and pedestrian crashes—7 compared to the previous 6-year average of 20.

A pedestrian walks across a crosswalk painted with white stripes and marked by an in-street sign. Source: FHWA
Crosswalk visibility enhancements such as high-visibility markings and in-street signs help make crosswalks and pedestrians more visible.

Building on Success

The fifth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-5) promotes a set of 10 innovations being deployed by State agencies and their partners from 2019 through 2020.

In addition to FHWA's ongoing partnerships and assistance through EDC, the national STIC Network is leveraging the expertise of stakeholders throughout the country to foster an ongoing culture of innovation in the transportation community. STICs in each State are made up of public and private transportation stakeholders who evaluate innovations and champion deployment efforts. Working through the STICs, State departments of transportation can consider innovations promoted by EDC and by others.

"The growing culture of innovation across the country is helping agencies deliver projects faster, more efficiently, and in a way that delivers cost savings to the taxpayer," says Thomas Harman, director of the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation. "Innovation champions nationwide are improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation system."

Innovations Featured in EDC-4

Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures

Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE)

Community Connections

Data-Driven Safety Analysis

e-Construction and Partnering: A Vision for the Future

Integrating National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Permitting

Pavement Preservation (When, Where, and How)

Road Weather Management – Weather Savvy Roads

Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)

Ultra-High Performance Concrete Connections for PBES

Using Data to Improve Traffic Incident Management


Julie Zirlin is the program manager for the Every Day Counts program with the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation.

For more information, see Every Day Counts: An Innovation Partnership With States—EDC-4 Final Report (FHWA-19-CAI-013) at www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/reports/edc4_final. Or contact Julie Zirlin at sara.lowry@dot.gov or 202–366–9105.

 

 

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