The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) held its second Quarterly Meeting of CY 2022 on June 15, 2022. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Attendees to the online meeting had opportunities to offer comments or ask questions, or use the chat feature.
Brandee Chapman, NJDOT's Innovation Coordinator, greeted the meeting participants and facilitated the meeting procedings. Michael Russo, NJDOT Assistant Commissioner, provided Welcome and Opening Remarks.
FHWA EDC Innovation. Helene Roberts, FHWA's Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager, noted that there are six months left in EDC-6 and the EDC-7 cycle will be beginning in January 2023. She does not have information about the specific innovations that will be part of the next cycle. The EDC-7 Summit will probably be held in early December as a virtual event and will be followed by a NJ Caucus where the NJ STIC will discuss the opportunities and barriers of these new innovation initiatives and consider what initiatives New Jersey should pursue.
Ms. Roberts noted that New Jersey was a featured state at the National STIC meeting held on June 1st. The NJ STIC presentation team highlighted several initiatives including the Let’s Go Workshop, the Communications Plan, and the UAS Program. A recording of the National STIC meeting and the NJ presentation can be found here.
Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates of the status of EDC initiatives on the topics of Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, Mobility and Operations, and Organizational Improvement and Support.
The Safety update provided a timely overview of a new federal program, Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A), authorized under the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Local Governments are among the eligible recipients for planning and action implementation grants for safety improvements. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) was recently issued, and the briefing presentation covered, among other topics, eligibility requirements, funding levels, grant types, cost share and match provisions, and key deadline dates for questions and submissions.
Featured Presentation – Strategic Workforce Development. The featured presentation(s) explored the potential roles of community college, union and state agencies in establishing workforce training and apprenticeship programs to meet the needs of 21st Century construction jobs in transportation. The presentations were given by Lori Margolin, Associate Vice President, Continuing Education and Workforce Development, Hudson County Community College (HCCC); Nick Toth, Director, Office of Apprenticeships, NJ Department of Labor & Workforce Development (NJDOL); and Greg Lalevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825.
Feature Presentation #1 - Continuing Education & Workforce Development, Hudson Community College. Ms. Margolin described the mission of the college and her office focusing on student success and diversity, equity and inclusion. She spoke about the Earn & Learn program, an innovative dual education program created with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 that allows individuals to earn an Associates degree while gaining hands-on instruction and earning a paycheck in the Union’s apprenticeship program. For this initiative, Hudson County Community College (HCCC) developed a new concentration within the Technical Studies degree major tailored to the needs of IUOE Local 825. Participants are supported through funding from Local 825 and a NJ Department of Labor PLACE 2.0 grant. Ms. Margolin’s office works with employers who are having trouble finding eligible workers. HCCC builds training programs which include experiential learning and create career pathways for students, identifies a diverse pool of candidates, and develops short-term solutions while building a talent pipeline. HCCC is the administrative lead for the Construction Center for Workforce Innovation created this year as part of the NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities Program. The Center will focus on expanding career pathways in construction, creating new partnerships with K-12 schools and 4-year colleges and universities, and expanding the dual education program with new partners.
Feature Presentation #2 - NJ Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Office of Apprenticeships. Mr. Toth noted that the Murphy administration’s prioritization of apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs resulted in the creation of the Office of Apprenticeship in the NJ Department of Labor (NJDOL) in 2018. The Office partners with US Department of Labor, and is the one-stop shop for NJ employers, nonprofits, and educational institutions that are working with registered apprenticeships, a formal program that advances workforce development. NJDOL is seeking to expand apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship in high-growth fields. The Office of Apprenticeship seeks to be the connection between educational institutions, employers and advocacy organizations. Mr. Toth reviewed several of the specific programs offered including GAINS, NJ PLACE 2.0, and NJ BUILD. These programs ensure that employers get the talent they need and, with an emphasis on equity and inclusion, provide entry points for everyone. All grants have language that helps to remove economic barriers to training and upskilling through targeted investments. He discussed pre-apprenticeship programs that provide classroom training and curriculum, strategies for long-term success, access to support services, hands-on training, facilitated entry, and occupation-specific training.
Mr. Toth noted that a fairly new requirement of Public Works Contractor Registration is participation in a registered apprenticeship program. The program is one means by which the state of New Jersey can maximize benefits to NJ residents when spending state resources. The contractors that NJDOT is working with have to comply with this new law, and the Office of Apprenticeship can work with these contractors, and provide funding to help them comply with the law. The number of registered apprenticeship programs has increased by 77 percent since Gov. Murphy took office and NJDOL has doubled the number of women in registered apprenticeship programs.
Feature Presentation #3 - International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Mr. Lalevee began by explaining that the IUOE is comprised of heavy equipment operators who build the critical infrastructure that NJ residents use every day. Mr. Lalevee noted that Local 825 assesses market needs in order to create a 21st Century workforce that can work on future transportation, energy, and clean water projects. Local 825 chose to establish a technical college that would upskill union members to gain competence with new technology including artificial intelligence, full robotic controls, GPS controls, among others. The Union sees value in partnering with the county Vo-Tech schools to provide a pipeline of future participants for its apprenticeship program. The Union recently hired an in-house academic to create curricula and build partnership, such as the Earn & Learn program developed with HCCC. Mr. Lalevee described their training facilities and equipment in South Brunswick. He noted that two significant barriers to entry to apprenticeships have been transportation and childcare. Part of the incentive for establishing a technical college was to take advantage of NJDOL programs to fund transportation for program participants. He noted that apprenticeships at IUOE Local 825 are in demand.
Mileage-Based User Fee Pilot Program. Zenobia Fields, NJDOT Director of Government and Community Relations, announced that Eastern Transportation Coalition and NJDOT are launching Phase 4 of the Mileage-Based User Fee Pilot Program. Current funding for transportation infrastructure comes from the gas tax. With a shift to electric and hybrid vehicles, a new funding approach is needed. With an MBUF program, drivers pay for the miles they travel. NJDOT is looking for 400 members of the general public to register for the pilot. Go to the website for more information and to sign up by July 31st to participate.
Reminders and Updates. Ms. Chapman closed the meeting with information and reminders on the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:
- NJDOT Tech Transfer Website: http://www.njdottechtransfer.net/
- NJ STIC Website: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/nj-stic/
- NJ STIC Meetings: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/nj-stic-meetings/
The NJ STIC Innovative Initiatives Survey has been distributed via email. Responses will be shared at a future STIC meeting and innovative initiatives will be featured through the NJDOT Technology Transfer program. Please share the survey with your networks – the target audience is members of local public agencies, MPOs and other transportation professionals. Responses are due by July 15th. Use this link to the NJ STIC Innovative Initiatives Survey.
The Bureau of Research has prepared a NJ nomination for the 2022 STIC Excellence Award and named several initiatives including the creation of the new CIA Team, the Innovation Coordinator position, and the STIC Communications Plan, piloting of the Let’s Go Workshop, the EDC-6 Caucus, and the NJ highlight at the National STIC meeting, among other accomplishments. The nomination will be circulating soon for signature and endorsement.
Ms. Chapman noted that STIC Incentive Program funding is available. The program provides up to $100,000 per state. Applications are due by August 2022. Local Public Agencies are eligible to apply. The NJDOT Bureau of Research has developed a set of guidelines for project administration for selected projects.
Sal Cowan spoke in recognition of Sue Catlett who is retiring from NJDOT after 39 years of service.
Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research, and Mike Russo provided closing remarks.
NJ STIC June 2022 Meeting Recording