The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened online for the 1st Quarter Meeting on March 15, 2023. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.
Welcome and Introductions. Brandee Sullivan, NJDOT Innovation Coordinator, greeted the meeting participants, followed by Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks. He introduced a new Core Innovation Area Team, Planning and Environment, that will lead the implementation activities for two of the EDC-7 Innovations being addressed by the NJ STIC. The two EDC-7 innovations, EPDs for Sustainable Project Delivery, and Integrating GHG Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning, will fall under the responsibility of this newly formed CIA Team. Andrew Swords, NJDOT, and Sutapa Bandyopadhyay, FHWA, are the leads for this Team.
Asst. Commissioner Russo thanked Helene Roberts, Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager for the FHWA NJ Office, who is retiring in April. He thanked Helene for her years of service, and her guidance and support in making the NJ STIC successful. Mr. Russo introduced Robert Clark, Division Administrator for the FHWA NJ Office, who also thanked Helene for all her work. He noted that she is a Pavement and Materials engineer and has recently won two national awards. In crediting Ms. Roberts for her significant work on behalf of the NJ STIC, Mr. Russo showed a timeline of the STIC’s development over more than 10 years of innovating, including being the recipient of two STIC Excellence Awards.
FHWA Innovation Updates. Helene Roberts spoke about the closeout of EDC-6 and provided a summary of the status of each innovation initiative at the end of the two-year period. She noted that Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations and Virtual Public Involvement had reached the institutionalization stage. The other EDC-6 Round innovations undertaken by the NJ STIC had not changed status at the close of the two-year period, but were on a path to continue to make progress by their respective teams.
Ms. Roberts also spoke about the EDC-7 National Summit recordings of which will be available on-demand for a year. Access to all of the recordings requires registration. Ms. Roberts noted NJ participation in the National Summit: Sal Cowan presented on Next-Gen TIM technologies in use by NJDOT, and Ted Ritter, NJTPA, and Jaclyn Davis, DVRPC, presented on Virtual Public Involvement at the National STIC Network Showcase. General information about the EDC-7 Virtual Summit can be found here along with a link to the event's agenda. A short post about the NJ involvement at the FHWA Virtual Summit, including the referenced presentations, can be found here.
Amanda Gendek, Bureau of Research summarized the EDC-7 NJ Caucus proceedings held on February 22, 2023. She requested that those who participated in the NJ Caucus could still complete the Feedback Form (a link was shared) to help the NJDOT Bureau of Research in organizing future Caucus-related events.
Breakout Rooms: EDC-7 Conversations with Core Innovation Area Leads. The meeting continued with conversations with Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders about the EDC-7 innovations being pursued by the NJ STIC. Attendees chose to join one of the five CIA Team breakout sessions: Safety; Infrastructure Preservation; Mobility and Operations; Organizational Improvement and Support; and Planning and Environment. The sessions continued the discussions that began with the NJ STIC Caucus and reviewed the baseline status of each innovation, the stage of deployment goal for the innovation over the next two years. and implementation steps that could be taken to achieve the deployment goal.
Featured Presentation – Nighttime Visibility for Safety. Two presentations highlighted research on lighting design guidance and various design improvements aligned with advancing Nighttime Visibility for Safety, an EDC-7 Innovation topic.
Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Managing Director, Active Transportation & Mobility Safety Group, Rutgers Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC), and Greg Woltman, Project Coordinator, summarized previous work on street lighting and the relationship of lighting to pedestrian and bicyclist crashes. Enhancing nighttime visibility for pedestrian and bicycle safety is the subject of a research effort on Life-Saving Lighting that Rutgers-VTC is beginning with researchers at Rowan University funded through the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. This work will result in a lighting design guide for local jurisdictions. VTC requested input from people in the meeting through a Menti poll. Anahita Kakhani, Graduate Research Assistant at Rowan, introduced herself as a member of the research team for preparing the lighting design guide.
Charu Jegan and Andrey Terentiev, NJDOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering, presented on safety countermeasures for Nighttime Visibility and pedestrian and bicyclist safety. NJDOT has been installing LED lighting on state highways; improving ADA accessibility for pushbuttons and voice command at crosswalks, and ensuring that pedestrian signal heads can be seen clearly from the crosswalk; installing traffic signal backplates with retroreflective tape; installing pedestrian-activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB); and evaluating the effectiveness of vertical illumination. They discussed the benefits and challenges of these countermeasures.
Reminders and Updates. Mrs. Sullivan 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 Meeting notes including presentations and recordings can be found in the NJ STIC section for the website (https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/nj-stic-meetings/)
She announced that the 2023 Design Summit, sponsored by NJDOT, FHWA, and American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), has a theme of Innovation. The Summit will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. NJDOT Bureau of Research will be gathering information from NJ stakeholders on EDC-7 initiatives through the use of QR-coded surveys.
Mrs. Sullivan also announced that STIC Incentive Program funds are available. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year. She asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. Local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.
Mrs. Sullivan reminded attendees about the NJ Build a Better Mousetrap Competition. The deadline for entries is May 1, 2023. This year, state agencies can submit innovations to the national competition if the innovation is replicable in other agencies. To learn more about the competition and see examples of past winners, go here, or download the entry form and guidance here.
Asst. Commissioner Russo provided closing remarks.