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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

 
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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-21-001    Date:  Autumn 2020
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-21-001
Issue No: Vol. 84 No. 3
Date: Autumn 2020

 

Along The Road

Public Information and Information Exchange

Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Concrete being poured on a construction site.
A work crew pours ultra-high performance concrete on a bridge deck.

FHWA Announces EDC-6 Innovations

On September 23, 2020, Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R. Nason launched Every Day Counts round 6 (EDC-6; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClOFVzt6KnhH1cRm17LxBgA). Seven innovations will be promoted in the State-based program to rapidly deploy processes and technologies to boost the safety and efficiency of the transportation system and keep America moving.

The EDC-6 innovations feature strategies to increase engagement with the people who build and use transportation infrastructure, new applications of products to save money on preserving and repairing bridges and roads, and processes to save time on project delivery and incident management.

The Federal Highway Administration's call for ideas for EDC-6 yielded more than 100 suggestions from local, State, and Federal agencies; academia; and industry. After consulting with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and other stakeholders, FHWA selected seven proven, market-ready innovations to promote in 2021 and 2022. They are Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations; e-Ticketing and Digital As-Builts; Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management: Integrating Technology, Data, and Training; Strategic Workforce Development; Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions; Ultra-high Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair; and Virtual Public Involvement.

On December 8—10, 2020, FHWA will host a virtual summit to provide more details on the benefits of each innovation. Registration is free (https://www.labroots.com/ms/virtual-event/fhwa-everyday-counts-6-virtual-summit.) The 2-year deployment cycle begins in January 2021. EDC-6 deployment teams will provide technical assistance and training to help transportation agencies implement the innovations State Transportation Innovation Councils choose to adopt in their States.

For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6.

Close up of concrete being poured on a construction site.
The innovations for round 6 of Every Day Counts include Ultra-high Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair.

FHWA Expands Alternative Fuel Corridors

FHWA recently completed the fourth round of designations for the Alternative Fuel Corridors program. With the designation of these corridors, FHWA continues to establish a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure along national highway system corridors.

Close up of an electric car connected to a charging station.
With the designation of alternative fuel corridors, FHWA is establishing a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure.

To date, FHWA's Alternative Fuel Corridors Program has included 100 nominations submitted from State and local officials; designations of segments or entire lengths of 119 interstate corridors (including Hawaii and Alaska), along with 100 U.S. highways and State roads; 49 States plus the District of Columbia designated as corridor-ready or corridor-pending for one or more alternative fuel types; and an applied research funding opportunity for the deployment of alternative vehicle fueling and charging facilities.

In addition, FHWA released a summary report of the five regional Alternative Fuel Corridors convenings held in 2018 and 2019. The report contains information and perspectives from across the country on the installation of alternative fuel infrastructure along highway corridors. It is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/alternative_fuel_corridors/webinars/summary_report.

For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/alternative_fuel_corridors.

Guidebook Assists States in Managing GIS Data

In late 2019, FHWA published the Applications of Enterprise GIS for Transportation (AEGIST) Guidebook (FHWA-HEP-20-014). The guidebook is the latest in a series of publications designed to help FHWA and State departments of transportation migrate to the enterprise level for creating, maintaining, and governing data related to roadways and their characteristics, elements, and events.

The publication's main objective is to document guidance on how spatial and linear referenced data should be managed by States. Developed by FHWA beginning in 2018 under phase I of a pooled fund study, the guidebook's goals are to facilitate deployment of enterprise data governance, develop a national specification for roadway data structure, advance State capabilities for safety analysis, and provide general instruction on data organization. The AEGIST project will help break down traditional management silos and answer enterprise questions such as: how autonomous vehicles can be accommodated, how agencies can compile and use federally required Model Inventory of Roadway Elements data on highway safety, to what extent mobile devices with real-time traffic feeds are altering traffic patterns, whether there is a better way to respond to traffic congestion than by increasing roadway capacity on key routes, and how agencies can respond to increasing citizen data requests.

Phase II of the pooled fund study began in 2019 and spans 5 years until 2024.

The guidebook is available at https://www.gis.fhwa.dot.gov/AEGIST.aspx.

Cover of the Applications of Enterprise GIS for Transportation (AEGIST) Guidebook.
FHWA's animated videos discuss specifications for highway construction.

Data Story Helps Practitioners Navigate Connected Vehicle Datasets

USDOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office offers the ITS DataHub, which currently hosts connected vehicle data from the Tampa and Wyoming Connected Vehicle Pilot sites. Data from the New York Connected Vehicle Pilot site will be added in the future. Datasets include basic safety messages, traveler information messages, and signal phase and timing messages, all of which are transmitted via dedicated short-range communications.

To help practitioners more easily understand the data available and how to access them, USDOT developed a Connected Vehicle Pilot "data story." This resource is available at https://data.transportation.gov/stories/s/Connected-Vehicle-Pilot-Sandbox/hr8h-ufhq and provides an overview of each Connected Vehicle Pilot, describes the types of data available, and walks users through how to access the various datasets.

ITS DataHub provides a single point of entry to discover publicly available USDOT ITS research data. By providing access to these data, the Department aims to enable third-party research into the effectiveness of emerging ITS technologies, preliminary development of third-party applications, and harmonization of data across similar collections.

To access all of the ITS DataHub's datasets, visit https://www.its.dot.gov/data/.

FHWA Releases Whiteboard Videos on Highway Construction

FHWA's Office of Infrastructure Research and Development released a series of three animated whiteboard videos focused on specifications for highway construction to help improve quality. The videos are available on FHWA's YouTube channel.

Types and Uses of Construction Specifications (https://youtu.be/-FfOUfIbfF4) introduces viewers to various types of specifications, including quality assurance specifications, warranty specifications, performance-based specifications, and performance-related specifications. Quality Assurance Specifications (https://youtu.be/VeicnhCzn2A) covers how quality assurance specifications work and highlights key aspects of a well-written quality assurance specification. Performance Related Specifications (https://youtu.be/Lpu3ye1URrs) covers how performance-related specifications work and includes steps involved in their development.

A screen capture from an animated video produced by FHWA about construction specifications.
FHWA's animated videos discuss specifications for highway construction.

Technical News

ADOT Truck Screening Aids Freight Flow

To help freight move efficiently while ensuring that commercial vehicles can operate safely on State highways, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has expanded its use of technology that screens moving trucks for weight and identifying information.

A freight truck travels on a highway in Arizona.
Truck screening technology can save time and resources for drivers and inspection officers as freight enters Arizona.

The system, previously used at select rest areas including McGuireville on I—17, Sacaton on I—10, and Canoa Ranch on I—19, is now operating at ADOT's commercial ports of entry along I—10, I—40, and SR—95 in Parker, AZ.

The technology includes weigh-in-motion sensors, cameras that are designed to read USDOT numbers and license plates, and message signs. An additional feature at the Ehrenberg and San Simon ports of entry on I—10 also identifies commercial vehicles with tires that could be damaged or in need of repair. The failure of a tire on a commercial vehicle can lead to catastrophic collisions and deposit tire debris on and along roadways.

As a commercial vehicle approaches the port of entry, highway signs direct the driver into the right lane. When the truck is a half-mile from the port, the weigh-in-motion sensors and cameras capture the vehicle's weight and identifying information and relay it to ADOT officers at the port.

The computer checks the truck's credentials against national and State databases. If the truck is cleared and within weight limits, the message boards along the highway direct the driver to bypass the port and continue on. If an issue is identified with the commercial vehicle, such as expired registration, Federal out-of-service orders, or required permits not on file, the signs direct the driver to pull into the port for further inspection.

In addition to saving ADOT officers and truck drivers time and resources, the system tracks and stores the size and weights of the commercial vehicles entering Arizona. These data will help ADOT's planning division make more informed decisions about the State's highway system in the future.

Policy and Legislations

USDOT Publishes Final Rule on Tribal Transportation Self-Governance

In June 2020, USDOT published a final rule to establish the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program at USDOT. The new program provides a flexible, effective framework for the Federal Government to work collaboratively with Tribes to improve transportation infrastructure delivery on Tribal lands and reservations.

This new rule, which went into effect on October 1, is the result of a multiyear negotiated rulemaking process between representatives of Tribes, USDOT, and the Department of the Interior. USDOT's Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program recognizes the unique government-to-government relationship between the Tribes and the Federal Government and will improve the way USDOT does business with Tribes.

The program streamlines the Department's distribution of transportation funding to participating Tribes. Participating Tribes have greater autonomy in the management and delivery of transportation programs, including an enhanced ability to determine internal priorities, redesign programs, and reallocate resources to more effectively and efficiently meet their needs. The rule also streamlines transfers of grant awards that Tribes receive. The rule reduces regulatory requirements by harmonizing requirements applicable to various grant programs, streamlining the delivery of infrastructure.

The full text of the final rule can be viewed on the Federal Register at www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-06-01/pdf/2020-11618.pdf.