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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-21-002    Date:  Winter 2021
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-21-002
Issue No: Vol. 84 No. 4
Date: Winter 2021


Innovation Corner

Proven Innovations for a Nation on the Move

by Julie Zirlin

Which strategies can increase engagement with the people who build and use transportation infrastructure? What products save money on preserving and repairing bridges and roads? How can transportation agencies save time on project delivery and incident management? Innovations that provide solutions for all these and more are highlighted in round six of the Every Day Counts program (EDC-6).

A woman in a hard hat and safety gear installs rebar on a highway project. © N. Fobes / Getty Images.
The EDC-6 Strategic Workforce Development initiative promotes strategies and resources to grow the transportation workforce.

EDC facilitates the deployment of proven but underutilized technologies and processes that, with more widespread adoption and implementation, can enhance safety, accelerate project delivery, reduce congestion, and integrate automation.

Every 2 years, the Federal Highway Administration works with key stakeholder groups to identify a new set of innovations that merit accelerated deployment. After receiving more than 100 suggestions from local, State, and Federal agencies; academia; and industry, and consulting with stakeholders, FHWA selected seven EDC-6 innovations to promote in 2021 and 2022. Each one is timely and relevant to addressing the unique transportation challenges of today.

"Our common goal to enhance our infrastructure, keep America moving, and support economic recovery is why we have themed the next round of EDC – Innovation for a Nation on the Move," says FHWA Administrator Nicole R. Nason. "Although the solicitation occurred prior to the national public health emergency, we believe the seven innovations selected for the EDC-6 will continue the legacy of the program and support our efforts as we work toward recovery."

The Power of People

Three of the EDC-6 initiatives actively seek to leverage the power of people in a variety of ways.

Building on the Highway Construction Workforce Partnership, the Strategic Workforce Development initiative promotes strategies and resources to demonstrate the value of a career in transportation and provides career preparation to a new audience of people.

The Virtual Public Involvement initiative continues the efforts started in EDC-5 promoting transportation agency efforts to engage the public more effectively during the transportation decisionmaking process by supplementing face-to-face information sharing with technological tools and techniques.

Another initiative continuing from EDC-5, Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations promotes using crowdsourced data integrated from multiple streams to optimize roadway use for reduced congestion and increased safety and reliability.

An asphalt paving operation for placement of a thin overlay. The haul trucks are placing asphalt mixture into a material transfer vehicle. The material transfer vehicle is placing the asphalt mixture into an asphalt paving machine. Workers are operating the equipment with inspectors overseeing operation. © National Asphalt Pavement Association.
Thin overlays can be designed specifically to improve rutting and cracking resistance, increase structural capacity, improve friction, or reduce splash and spray.

Innovative Materials Solutions

The EDC-6 lineup also includes two products with great potential to best use the available resources of transportation agencies. With many pavements in the highway system nearing or reaching the end of their design life, a toolkit of Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions is now available for asphalt and concrete pavements that enable agencies to retain the value of existing pavements in need of treatment, maximize their investment, and help ensure safer, longer-lasting roadways.

Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Bridge Preservation and Repair presents a new application of UHPCN–a fiber-reinforced, cementitious composite material with mechanical and durability properties that far exceed those of conventional concrete–that offers superior strength, enhanced performance, and improved life-cycle cost over traditional preservation and repair methods.

A worker at a construction site uses a tablet to log construction material. Source: FHWA.
e-Ticketing uses mobile devices to access electronic ticket exchanges, improving material data handling and integration into construction management systems.

Improving Transportation Processes

Two EDC-6 initiatives seek to enhance transportation projects and programs by implementing effective processes.

Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management (NextGen TIM) programs aim to shorten the duration and impact of roadway incidents and improve the safety of motorists, crash victims, and responders. New tools such as unmanned aircraft systems, data analytics, and computer-aided dispatch systems help agencies better detect and manage traffic incidents.

The e-Ticketing and Digital As-Builts innovation helps agencies leverage and integrate the massive amounts of valuable data generated during highway construction projects into electronic and digital workflows. Electronic ticketing improves the tracking, exchange, and archiving of materials tickets. Digital as-built information enables agencies to capture various data elements, such as utilities and other subsurface features in the as-built plans to support future operations, maintenance, and asset management.

Construction workers install an ultra-high performance concrete link slab in upstate New York. © 2019, New York State Department of Transportation.
The New York State Department of Transportation frequently uses UHPC link slabs to replace deteriorated expansion joints.

Getting Round 6 Underway

In December 2020, FHWA hosted a virtual summit to enable the State Transportation Innovation Councils to explore the benefits of the EDC-6 innovations and identify those that best fit the needs of their transportation programs. All presentations are available on demand at www.labroots.com/ms/virtual-event/fhwa-everyday-counts-6-virtual-summit. In January, EDC-6 deployment teams began providing technical assistance and training to help transportation agencies implement the innovations at their chosen levels of adoption.

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

Julie Zirlin is the Every Day Counts Program Manager in FHWA's Center for Accelerating Innovation.



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