Strategic Workforce Development is one of FHWA's seven initiatives promoted through the sixth round of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program. Key emphasis is on developing new, innovative strategies to support qualified workers for highway construction projects. By strengthening this workforce by applying lessons learned with new training tools and customizable marketing materials, state transportation agencies can help to foster the next generation of transportation workers.
FHWA's Center for Workforce Development has hosted several webinars about the Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP), highlighting success stories and best practices.
Recent webinars were held in November 2022, including representatives from Michigan, Connecticut, New England Laborers Training Academy, Texas, National Skills Coalition, Oregon, and the Pennsylvania representatives from the Pittsburgh region, including the Partner4Work and Builders Guild organizations. A host of supportive services were highlighted that both educate and maintain their trainee's opportunities and availability to participate in the respective workforce development programs.
The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Talking TIM webinar series provides best practices, new technological innovations, and successful implementations. The webinar series provides a forum where TIM champions with any level of experience can exchange information about current practices, programs, and technologies. Each month, the FHWA TIM Program Team seeks to feature content that highlights successful programs, identifies best practices, and showcases technology that advances the profession.
January 2021: The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Role in TIM, Digital Alert Pilots in St Louis and Kansas City, and FHWA Every Day Counts Round Six (EDC-6) NextGen TIM Overview
February 2021: Innovative Tools for Responder and Road Worker Safety
March 2021: AASHTO's Role in TIM, Nebraska Tow Temporary Traffic Control Program, Fire Truck Attenuators for Temporary Traffic Control, Massachusetts Legislation for Driver and Responder Safety
April 2021: Wisconsin's Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) Program, City of Seattle TIM and Response Team Program, and North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) TIM Innovations
May 2021: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Role in TIM, Incident Detours Involving Railroad Crossings, Washington State's TIM Program and Virtual Coordination, and Responder Vehicle to Traffic Management Center Video Sharing
June 2021: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Traffic Incident Management
July 2021: Lubbock Fire and Rescue Helmet Innovation, RESQUE-1 Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Assistance, Geographically-Tagged Information from Travelers
August 2021: CDOT TIM for Localities, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement TIM Training Requirement, Schertz Fire and Rescue TIM Training Institutionalization, Institutionalizing TIM training for EMS Professionals in Georgia
January 2022: Illinois TIM Program Overview and Training Video Use, Law Enforcement and First Responder Interactions Plans for Automated Driving Systems (ADS), Total Solar Eclipse Planning for 2023 and 2024
February 2022: Public Safety Announcements across Nine States for Motorist and Traffic Incident Responder Safety, TIM Video Sharing Use Cases: Findings from the Recent EDC-6 Next Generation TIM Workshop, TRACS and MACH: Software to Simplify Electronic Crash Reporting and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
March 2022: Outreach for Responder Safety through Collaborations with the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Towing and Recovery Association of America, North Carolina Tethered Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program, and Advanced Responder Warning through Safety Vests Fueled by Video Analytics
April 2022: Smart Lighting Strategies for Responder Vehicles, Incident Response After Action Reviews Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery, Incident Response After Action Reviews Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery
May 2022: Data Use and Visualization, Promoting Roadway Safety Through Move Over Law and Responder Struck-By Awareness, The New Jersey TIM Program
June 2022: Ohio DOT Quick Clear Demonstration, Electric Vehicle Battery Fires and the TIM Timeline, Montana's TIM Program
July 2022: The National Unified Goal: What Is It and How Do We Make It Relevant?, Planning and Responding to Special Events in Minnesota, Iowa DOT TIM Program Overview and Strategies for Quicker Incident Detection
August 2022: Overview of the Florida Heartland TIM Committee and Florida's Expanded Deployment of Cameras on Road Ranger Vehicles, What's New for the 2022 TIM Capability Maturity Self-Assessment, The TIM National Unified Goal: Relevancy of the TIM NUG Strategies
September 2022: Move Over and Responder Safety Technologies, Houston Traffic Incident Management and Training
National Unified Goals Review and Feedback.
January 2023: Mitigating Work Zone Traffic Incidents Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Every Day Counts Round 7 (EDC-7) Innovation, Next Generation TIM: Technology for Lifesaving Response, Traffic Incident Management National Unified Goal (NUG) Review and Feedback, Part 3
February 2023: Findings from Move Over Compliance and Responder Safety Technology Research, After Action Review of a Multi-Vehicle Fire, EDC-7 Summit Debrief: TIM Technologies for Saving Lives.
March 2023: Light-emitting diode (LED) Temporary Traffic Control Devices for Digital Motorist Alerts, Moveable Barriers and Debris Removal Systems,
National Secondary Crash Research
More information on the FHWA EDC-7 initiative, Next Generation TIM: Technology for Lifesaving Response is here.
Advancements in automobile technologies have prompted the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and other stakeholders across the nation and globe to explore the potential of Connected Vehicle systems. Connected Vehicle (CV) technology allows cars on the road to remotely communicate with surrounding digital systems, and react accordingly to ensure safety, operations and mobility benefits.
These communication networks are often divided into three broad concepts (1):
Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V): CVs communicating with each other to alert riders or prevent potential collisions.
Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I): CVs communicating with road or city systems, such as stoplights, to orient and guide safer road navigation.
Vehicle to Everything (V2X): CVs communicating with potentially any accessible device, such as a pedestrian’s phone to prevent unsafe traffic interactions.
CVs can be integrated with array of digital systems to improve vehicle safety. Source: MnDOT
Over several years, NJDOT has introduced several initiatives and participated in various CV-related working groups to evaluate the requirements for upgrading its digital infrastructure to support the successful deployment and integration of CV equipment into the existing NJDOT ITS architecture. From these evaluations, NJDOT determined that the best way to implement a real-world Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) solution would be to establish a complete CV test-bed environment with pilot field locations. This determination led to NJDOT completing its New Jersey Connected Technology Integration and Implementation (NJCTII) project. NJDOT recently drafted a case study published by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) that describes the lessons learned from the NJCTII initiative in advancing CV technologies (2).
TSMO Planning Strategies and Deployment
As part of the case study, NJDOT noted that a thorough planning and evaluation process was required to carry out the procurement, deployment and validation processes that could lead to the enhanced digital infrastructure hardware and software required for CV technologies. NJDOT described how its efforts followed the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) System Engineering Process, highlighting several key implementation steps:
Capability Maturity Matrix (CMM): A process tool that allowed the NJCTII to prioritize the proper actions and areas of emphasis throughout the NJCTII project.
Concept of Operations (ConOPS): A document that outlined the NJDOT’s current digital infrastructure and communications systems and identified the needs required to achieve statewide connectivity, CV data management and networking, procurement, and CV application deployment.
System Requirements Document (SRD): A document and a new process was created to evaluate deployment locations and determine needs for CV technology implementation, such as requirements for location selection, hardware selection, data flows security, and interoperability with existing NJDOT systems. NJDOT hosted or participated in several workshops to determine the overall system requirements of the digital infrastructure and CV technologies for successful deployment.
Solution Design Document (SDD): A document that utilized information from the SRD to design the digital infrastructure and CV systems for deployment at five pilot intersections, including wiring diagrams, networking, network equipment layout and field equipment installation.
Following this detailed TSMO implementation process, NJDOT was able to procure the hardware and software components required to complete a full CV system validation in a lab facility located at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) before conducting installation and field testing at pilot locations.
The laboratory testing and pilot implementation phases have involved a broad collaboration of government, academia, technology provider and engineering industry, stakeholders, among others.
Source: NOCoE Report
Outreach and Communications Lessons
The case study highlights the importance of outreach and communications processes that were conducted to coordinate with key stakeholders and other transportation agencies. These processes were used to determine the goals and needs for the CV system deployment on NJ’s roadway network and to consider the operational and safety issues that could be addressed through TSMO deployment strategies for CV systems. These activities included direct coordination with other transportation agencies within NJ, CV vendor and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), along with other departments within NJDOT.
Recognizing that there were many groups within NJ that were investigating CV technologies, but that they were working independent of each other, NJDOT and the NJCTII project team organized or participated in CV topic conferences, trainings, and laboratory demonstrations to disseminate knowledge of the emerging technology. The team found that involving many stakeholders in the CV planning and development process was a useful means to improve knowledge-sharing among practitioners and organizations, avoid and minimize redundant breakthroughs, accelerate the output of R&D, and increase buy-in across organizations.
CV systems connect to variety of digital inputs and outputs to advance road safety controls beyond what a particular element could achieve in isolation. Source: NJCTII Case Study Report
Outcomes and Benefits
The case study highlights several notable outcomes and benefits. One key benefit was that NJDOT successfully deployed and integrated CV technology for several purposes: Signaling, Phase and Timing (SpaT), Traveler Information Message (TIM), Basic Safety Message (BSM), Personal Safety Message (PSM) and MAP (i.e., messaging set to provide intersections) CV data. The NJCTII team used a spiral based testing approach in the lab to validate the CV systems. NJDOT used the lessons learned from the lab to deploy a fully functional CV system at 5 pilot intersections.
Advancing Projects Through Pipeline
A pipeline of Smart and Connected Corridor projects, which use CV technology, are at various stages of planning, design and implementation in New Jersey demonstrating the fruits of the efforts to-date (3). Earlier this year, the South Jersey Transportation Authority was awarded a $8.74 million grant for the Smart and Connected Atlantic City Expressway project (4). This project will utilize V2X and advanced intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology to improve traffic safety and efficiency. The project is being funded via the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant, a program launched through the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill, that is also supporting the implementation of CV systems in at least 9 other ITS projects (4). Another notable ATCMTD recipient-project is Kentucky’s Wrong Way Driving and Integrated Safety Technology System (4), which further highlights the potential of CV and ITS systems to implement road safety controls.
With an estimated 42,000 American car crash fatalities in 2021 alone (6), CVs’ potential to save lives and reduce congestion-generating crashes warrants increased attention. Models of better cooperation and general understanding of CVs, such as NJCTII, will continue to accelerate the improvement of the technology. The NJCTII initiative offers some useful lessons for other state DOTs and organizations in its approaches to test bed and pilot field-testing; use of trainings and lab demonstrations and other events to educate staff and stakeholders on CV technologies; and the development and sharing of documents to advance technological know-how and implementation through planning, design, procurement and installation phases.
Chris Coes, FHWA's Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, highlighted in a press release that 52 percent of the RAISE funding in the current round was for roadway projects with a substantial amount of that intended for “Complete Streets” projects -- that is, pedestrian-friendly renovations to existing roadways (1). Complete Street initiatives, such as San Francisco’s RAISE-funded introduction of concrete buffers and protected bike lanes to Howard Street (2), are expected to create safer, more equitable communities where the automobile has disrupted livability. RAISE can likewise leapfrog funds directly to local governments and metropolitan planning organizations in this pursuit.
RAISE’s funding is a major break from its predecessor program in its greater support for modal diversity and the application of the equity lens in project prioritization. According to the Urbanist, transportation analyst Yonah Freemark claims “that just 10% of the dollar amounts [of RAISE’s 2022 budget is] set to fund projects that build new roadways or expand existing ones” (3). For comparison, BUILD (a Trump-era successor to the Obama-era TIGER program) devoted roughly 50 percent of its funds toward expanding and building new automobile roadways (3). Additionally, 50% of RAISE funding will go to rural communities (1) and roughly two-thirds will go to areas of persistent poverty or historically disadvantaged communities (1), ensuring equity is a centerpiece of RAISE.
In the current funding round, the US DOT has announced 166 projects that are receiving RAISE funds with roughly 7 percent of the competitive funding program going to maritime projects and 4 percent for rail (1). Environmental Justice considerations and equity concerns are intertwined with port intermodal projects such as the “Port Miami Net Zero Program” in Florida, which will expand its intermodal rail capacity, add electric cranes, and improve its stormwater drainage system (2). Often diesel powered infrastructure at port facilities or vehicular traffic along highways can emit harmful air pollutants into nearby vulnerable communities; in this context, RAISE investment in port, rail, and vehicle electrification may yield a reduction in the environmental harms borne by nearby populations and communities.
Physical barriers or guard poles funded through RAISE will address safety inequities affecting cyclists. Courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
Planned RAISE-funded renovations combine improvements to efficiency and equity with greater investment in sustainable, greener technologies at America’s ports and in other transportation systems. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation.
RAISE 2022 Factsheets show that the planned ferry route between the City of Elizabeth and Manhattan will also take advantage of connections between Elizabeth’s waterfront and Newark Liberty Airport. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation.
In a similar vein, a $5 million RAISE planning grant to the City of Elizabeth will examine, identify and assess the feasibility of an electric ferry service from the Elizabeth, NJ waterfront to New York. The envisioned project would provide a ferry terminal and ferry service to and from Manhattan (2). Beyond studying the congestion and carbon emission reductions and energy savings from such infrastructure for NJ-NYC commutes, the RAISE planning grant to Elizabeth will also analyze the land development and economic impacts of project enhancements to the municipality's waterfront (2). With the potential implementation of "cordon-based" congestion pricing in Manhattan, the Elizabeth ferry service might provide more affordable access, or another mass transit travel option to reach NYC’s employment centers or its entertainment and recreational destinations for New Jersey residents (4) in the face of steeper priced travel by auto.
In New Jersey, the Atlantic City Resilient Route 40 Project was awarded $20 million in RAISE funding. Preparing for rising flood risks, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) seeks to elevate one of Atlantic City's main evacuation routes for vehicles and pedestrians, improve storm drainage in the busy Route 40 corridor, and relocate associated utilities (2). Thousands of commuters use Route 40 to reach their employment in Atlantic City’s casino industries (2). Reducing floods to vulnerable Route 40 paths will prevent low-income travelers from being forced to take the Atlantic City Expressway Toll Road as an alternative (2). NJDOT’s drainage efforts are no less important to the environmental equity aims of the RAISE-funded project; it is commonly found that the socioeconomically marginalized tend to live and work in areas of increased flooding risk. The inclusion of an updated 800-foot extension of an Atlantic City seawall and roadway drainage improvement will reduce hazards that would likely impact disadvantaged residents most directly.
Addressing Atlantic City’s coastal vulnerability with the RAISE-funded resiliency project could have measurable benefit to insurance rates for flood-vulnerable residents in addition to managing potential hazards. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation.
Over the next five years, the RAISE program is expected to provide $7.5 billion in planning and capital improvements for transportation projects. Under this competitively awarded program, projects should be aligned with key project selection criteria, including safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, partnership and collaboration, innovation, state of good repair, and mobility and community connectivity (1). Within these areas, the U.S. DOT Department has emphasized that project selection will consider how projects improve accessibility for all travelers, bolster supply chain efficiency, and support racial equity and economic growth – especially in historically disadvantaged communities and areas of persistent poverty (1).
The RAISE program is just one of several programs that U.S. DOT has identified as covered by the Biden-Harris Administration's Justice40 Initiative. The objective behind the Initiative is to address decades of underinvestment in disadvantaged communities and bring more Federal resources to communities most impacted by climate change, pollution, and environmental hazards (5).
Recent growth in available federal funding for transportation projects, including funding programs like RAISE, signal that the national transportation ecosystem can be reshaped -- to some extent -- through intentional planning, project selection, design and funding that looks to redress equity gaps and foster community livability and environmental sustainability The nation's disadvantaged communities -- defined in Justice40 through several indicators that map and measure economic condition, health, transportation access, environment, resilience, and equity -- stand to gain from this greater commitment to the equity and opportunity lens in decisionmaking, and RAISE-funded projects are one means for actualizing this transformative objective.
In 2019, a team of researchers from New York University and Rutgers University examined ways to calibrate and develop Safety Performance Functions (SPFs) to be utilized specifically to address conditions on New Jersey roadways. SPFs are crash prediction models or mathematical functions informed by data on road design. These data include, but are not limited to, lane and shoulder widths, the radius of the curves, and the presence of traffic control devices and turn lanes. With these data, SPFs help those tasked with road design and improvement to build roads and implement upgrades that maximize safety.
The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) presents SPFs developed using historic crash data collected from several states over several years at sites of the same facility type. These SPFs data cannot be transferred to other locations because of expected differences in environment and geographic characteristics, crash reporting policies and even local road regulations. To help SPFs better reflect local conditions and observed data, one of two strategies is usually undertaken to fine-tune SPFs: calibrating the SPFs provided in the HSM so as to fully leverage these data or developing location-specific SPFs regardless of the predictive modeling framework included in the HSM.
The research team, led by Dr. Kaan Ozbay (of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering), chose to pursue both of these strategies. The research report, Calibration/Development of Safety Performance Functions for New Jersey, can be found here. A webinar highlighting the research and findings can be found here. A monograph, supported by the NJDOT funded study and partially by C2SMART, a Tier 1 UTC led by NYU and funded by the USDOT, was also recently published and can be found here.
SPFs can be utilized at several levels. At the network level, researchers and engineers use SPFs to identify locations with promise for improvement. SPFs can be used to predict how safety treatments will affect the likelihood of crashes based on traffic volume and facility type. SPFs can be used to influence project level design by showing the average predicted crash frequency for an existing road design, for alternate designs, and for brand-new roads.
SPFs also can be used to evaluate different engineering treatments. In this case, engineers and researchers return to a site where a safety countermeasure has been installed to collect and analyze data to see how the change has affected crash frequency. They examine before and after conditions and measure if the prediction made using the SPF was accurate or needs improvement (Srinivasan & Bauer, 2013). In the end, SPFs are only as good as the data used in their development.
NJDOT and the NYU-Rutgers team set out to calibrate SPFs using New Jersey’s roadway features, traffic volumes and crash data, and if necessary, to create new SPFs that reflect conditions in the state. The facility types considered for this research project included segments and intersections of rural two-lane two-way, rural multilane, and urban and suburban roads. In examining these datasets, the researchers identified areas where data processing improvements could be made to enhance the quality or efficiency in use of the data in addition to pursuing the stated goal of developing New Jersey-specific SPFs.
For example, utilizing the data provided by NJDOT, the research team developed methods for processing a Roadway Features Database of different kinds of road facilities. The researchers utilized the Straight Line Diagrams (SLD) database, which offers extensive information about the tens of thousands of miles of roadways in New Jersey, but observed issues and errors in the SLD database that required corrections. For example, the research team utilized Google Maps and Google Street View to conduct a manual data extraction process to verify information in the SLD database (e.g., confirm whether an intersection was an overpass, number of lanes, directionality) and extract missing variables, such as the number of left and right turn lanes at intersections, lighting conditions, and signalization needed for the analysis.
The research team also needed to develop programming code to correctly identify the type and location of intersections and effectively work with available data. The team developed a novel “clustering-based approach” to address the absence of horizontal curvature data using GIS centerline maps.
Police reports of crashes often have missing geographic identifiers which complicates analytical work such as whether crashes were intersection-related. In NJ, police are equipped with GPS devices to record crash coordinates but this crash information is somewhat low in the raw crash databases before post-processing by NJDOT. The researchers employed corrective methods and drew upon other NJ GIS maps to provide missing locations (e.g., Standard Route Identification or milepost).
The processing challenges for roadway features, traffic volumes and crashes encountered by the research team suggest the types of steps that can be taken to standardize and streamline data collection and processing to secure better inputs for future SPF updates. Novel data extraction methods will be needed to minimize labor time and improve accuracy of data; accurate crash data is integral to employing these methods.
The research team modified the spreadsheets developed by the HSM and used by the NJDOT staff. The calculated calibration factors and the developed SPFs are embedded in these spreadsheets. The users can now select whether to use the HSM SPFs with the calculated calibration factors or the New Jersey-specific SPF in their analyses
The researchers’ data processing and calibration efforts sought to ensure that the predictive models reflect New Jersey road conditions that are not directly reflected in the Highway Safety Manual. The adoption of this data-driven approach can make it possible to capture information about localized conditions but significant expertise is required to carry out calibration and development analyses. With more research—and improved data collection processes over time —the calibration and development of SPFs holds promise for helping New Jersey improve road safety.
Srinivasan, R., & Bauer, K. M. (2013). Safety Performance Function Development Guide: Developing Jurisdiction-Specific SPFs. The University of North Carolina, Highway Safety Research Center. Retrieved from https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/49505
Partnering with the Federal Railroad Administration, New Jersey Transit and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), a research team at Rutgers University is using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to analyze rail crossing safety issues. Utilizing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at rail crossings, a team of Rutgers researchers, Asim Zaman, Xiang Liu, Zhipeng Zhang, and Jinxuan Xu, have developed and refined an AI-aided framework for detection of railroad trespassing events to identify the behavior of trespassers and capture video of infractions. The system uses an object detection algorithm to efficiently observe and process video data into a single dataset.
Rail trespassing is a significant safety concern resulting in injuries and deaths throughout the country, with the number of such incidents increasing over the past decade. Following passage of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that mandated the installation of cameras along passenger rail lines, transportation agencies have installed CCTV cameras at rail crossings across the country. Historically, only through recorded injuries and fatalities were railroads and transportation agencies able to identify crossings with trespassing issues. This analysis did not integrate information on near misses or live conditions at the crossing. Cameras could record this data, but reviewing the video would be a laborious task that required a significant resource commitment and could lead to missed trespassing events due to observer fatigue.
Zaman, Liu, Zhang, and Xu saw this problem as an opportunity to put AI techniques to work and make effective use of the available video and automate the observational process in a more systematic way. After utilizing AI for basic video analysis in a prior study, the researchers theorized that they could train an AI and deep learning to analyze the videos from these crossings and identify all trespassing events.
Working with NJDOT and NJ TRANSIT, they gained access to video footage from a crossing in Ramsey, NJ. Using a deep learning-based detection method named You Only Look Once or YOLO, their AI-framework detected trespassings, differentiated the types of violators, and generated clips to review. The tool identified a trespass only when the signal lights and crossing gates were active and tracked objects that changed from image to image in the defined space of the right-of-way. Figure 1 depicts the key steps in the process for application of AI in the analysis of live video stream or archived surveillance video.
The researchers applied AI review to 1,632 hours of video and 68 days of monitoring. They discovered 3,004 instances of trespassing, an average of 44 per day and nearly twice an hour. The researchers were able to demonstrate how the captured incidents could be used to formulate a demographic profile of trespassers (Figure 2) and better examine the environmental context leading to trespassing events to inform the selection and design of safety countermeasures (Figure 3).
A significant innovation from this research has been the production of the video clip that shows when and how the trespass event occurred; the ability to visually review the precise moment reduces overall data storage and the time needed performing labor-intensive reviews. (Zhang, Zaman, Xu, & Liu, 2022)
With the efficient assembly and analysis of video big data through AI techniques, agencies have an opportunity, as never before, to observe the patterns of trespassing. Extending this AI research method to multiple locations holds promise for perfecting the efficiency and accuracy in application of AI techniques in various lighting, weather and other environmental conditions and, more generally, to building a deeper understanding of the environmental context contributing to trespassing behaviors.
In fact, the success of this AI-aided Railroad Trespassing Tool has led to new opportunities to demonstrate its use. The researchers have already expanded their research to more crossings in New Jersey and into North Carolina and Virginia. (Bruno, 2022) The Federal Railroad Administration has also awarded the research team a $582,859 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant to support the technology’s deployment at five at-grade crossings in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. (U.S. DOT, Federal Railroad Administration, 2021) Rutgers University and Amtrak have provided a 42 percent match of the funding.
The program’s expansion in more places may lead to further improvements in the precision and quality of the AI detection data and methods. The researchers speculate that this technology could integrate with Positive Train Control (PTC) systems and highway Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). (Zhang, Zaman, Xu, & Liu, 2022) This merging of technologies could revolutionize railroad safety. To read more about this study and methodology, see this April 2022 Accident Analysis & Prevention article.
The State of New Jersey has committed to the widespread deployment of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging technologies in the pursuit of cleaner, less carbon intensive roadway travel. With the establishment of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program (NEVI) in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BiL), also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), additional federal funding will be available to support New Jersey’s EV transition ambitions.
To receive NEVI Formula Program funds, states are required to develop an FHWA-approved EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan that describes how the state intends to use the funds in accordance with the NEVI Formula Program Guidance. The State of New Jersey convened a multi-agency task force that included the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), NJ Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU), the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), among others (1), to meet the August 1, 2022 deadline for plan submission to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation with FHWA approval expected by September 30, 2022.
Funding for EV Chargers
Having the highest number of registered electric cars on the road per public charging station of any state in the country, at a ratio of 46.16 (2), New Jersey stands to benefit greatly from NEVI’s formula funding for new EV charging stations. In total, NJDOT will receive $104.4 million from the program over five years (3). This sum represents 2.51 percent of the $4.2 billion that USDOT expects to provide to all states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia through NEVI’s formula (3). For comparison, in 2020 New Jersey’s share of the total American population was roughly 2.8 percent (4), but critically, its share of land area is less than a fraction of a percent (5). Thus, in terms of EV charging infrastructure, the apportioned NEVI funding for New Jersey can ensure broader geographic coverage for its residents than may be possible for other less densely populated states.
Adoption of EV and Hybrid Electric Vehicles is growing exponentially in New Jersey as the technology and infrastructure continues to develop. Courtesy of NJ Department of Environmental Protection.
NEVI’s provisions mandate that interstates and highways designated as alternative fuel corridors (AFCs) must have charging stations at intervals of 50 miles or less (and within 1 mile from the highway itself (6)). In the most recent round of nominations, all of NJ’s interstate roadways were accepted and designated as AFCs by the FHWA, including: I-76, I-676, I-78, I-278, I-80, I-280, I-287, I-95, I-195, I-295, the Garden State Parkway, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Atlantic City Expressway. At a minimum, the charging stations must have the capability to simultaneously charge four vehicles at 150kW each. The development of intercity EV infrastructure should expand the travel range and charging options for through-travelers and New Jerseyans who operate the State’s rapidly growing fleet of registered plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) which numbered 64,307 in 2021 (7).
Far more charging stations will be required in New Jersey should the State achieve its goal of 100 percent PEV sales by 2035. By then, the EV vehicle fleet would reach 4.2 million registered EVs, or 73 percent of the estimated total of six million registered vehicles. The NJ EV Plan estimates that between 1,600 and 5,600 additional publicly available fast charging sites will be required throughout the state to meet these registration levels (1).
Beyond the $5 billion from NEVI, the program will establish the DOT-DOE Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to coordinate the shift in energy mixes for the nation’s transportation technology. Courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration.
Supplementing the NEVI Funding Formula program, the BiL sets aside discretionary funding through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Competitive Program to fill in gaps in publicly accessible EV charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling infrastructure along both designated alternative fuel corridors (50%) and in community locations (50%), such as parking facilities, public schools, public parks, or along public roads. Under this program, USDOT will prioritize projects that expand access to charging and alternative fueling infrastructure within rural areas, low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and communities with limited parking space or a high ratio of multi-unit dwellings to single-family homes. Eligible entities include states, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, political subdivisions, and tribal governments. NJ will be eligible to compete for these funds.
The NJ EV Plan establishes three phases for EV infrastructure development:
Phase 1 focuses on developing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) along the State's AFCs toward achieving "fully built out" status pursuant to the national NEVI program guidance. Nominated corridors must be equipped with at least four, 150 kW chargers at least every 50 miles and located less than or equal to one mile from the corridor exit.
Phase 2 focuses on addressing DC fast chargers on New Jersey’s main corridors every 25 miles, as established by State law and recognizing NJ as the most densely populated state. The State will incentivize the siting of charging stations at corridor interchanges to achieve the goal of EVSE chargers at a spacing of 25 and 50 miles. The 25-mile spacing provides opportunities to install one EVSE location at the intersection of two corridors and potentially serve both corridors which in some instances may save on installation costs.
Phase 3 implements EVSE flexibly in accordance with community needs which could include community-centric charging as well as fast charging hubs near multi-unit dwellings (MUD) and in disadvantaged and overburdened communities to enable electric ride sharing and ride hailing.
The NJ EV Plan emphasizes that each phase will involve planning, community outreach, stakeholder engagement and alignment with Justice40 initiatives. While initial focus will be on Phase 1, the Plan allows for all phases to progress over the next five years (1).
NJ EV Deployment Plan is divided into three overlapping phases over the five-year plan: Deployment of chargers between 50 and 25-mile spaces, addressing gaps in the network, and flexible implementation based on community needs. Courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The NJ EV Deployment Plan notes the establishment of its “Partnership to Plug In,” a multi-agency partnership formed to coordinate the broader statewide rollout of EVs. Partnership to Plug In is co-led by NJBPU, NJDEP and NJEDA and “bolstered by support from Treasury, NJ TRANSIT and NJDOT” (1). NEVI formula funding will increase the support NJDOT can provide to the Partnership. The deployment plan frames NEVI as a stepping-stone towards NJ’s policy goals “of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050 and reducing State greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 2006 levels by 2050” (1).
The expansion of NJ’s EV infrastructure network is a complementary next step to the state’s tax incentives and rebate programs and model municipal ordinance initiative to encourage greater EV adoption. Given a $173,000 cost estimate per station, New Jersey’s share of NEVI funding alone is expected to provide enough for 600 charging stations (9). For comparison, the NJDEP estimates roughly 736 Public Charging Locations in NJ (10), illustrating the scale of the potential impact from formula funding.
Looking to place charging stations at a maximum 25 miles apart in applicable routes, twice the frequency required by NEVI, recent NJ state law signals its goal to remain a leading state for owning or operating an electric car (11). As established in the BiL, the State of New Jersey will share 20 percent of NEVI costs (8). The State government has already committed to requiring that 100 percent of state-owned, non-emergency light-duty vehicles be EVs by 2035 (12) and requiring at least 400 DC Fast Charger public stations by the end of 2025 (12).
The composition of public charging locations in New Jersey would benefit if NEVI provides more DC Fast Charging stations, as the majority of NJ locations only provide lesser voltage Level 1 and 2 chargers. Courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Gasoline exhaust from personal and commercial vehicles can lead to areas closer to highways experiencing disproportionate exposure to harmful air pollutants. Courtesy of Ruben de Rijcke, Wikimedia Commons
Equity in Environment, Workforce, Mobility and Community Economic Development Considerations
Creating the charging infrastructure to ease the transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles is a rational response to the global climate crisis. It is also an opportunity to advance equity and environmental justice through transportation investments. Subject to the Biden administration's Justice40 commitment to spend 40 percent of overall benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy in disadvantaged communities (13), NEVI mandates placement of EV charging stations in the State’s affected disadvantaged communities to reduce the negative impacts of gasoline-based air pollutants.
The NJ EV Deployment Plan highlights the ways in which it is aligned with advancing the Justice40 commitment. The Plan outlines the State’s existing laws, regulations, guidance, mapping tools and outreach processes that it has employed, and expects to continue to employ, to deliver equitable transportation benefits and combat the health stressors borne by individuals living near highways and facilities from exposure to tail-pipe exhaust from conventional fuels. The Plan highlights equity, workforce development, mobility needs, and community benefit commitments and considerations. Emphasis is placed on continuing outreach and dialogue processes, through successive deployment phases, working with community leaders and labor organizations, chambers of commerce, community colleges, technical schools, universities, training organizations, and industry to ensure that the deployment, installation, operation, and use of EV charging infrastructure achieves equitable and fair distribution of benefits and services.
Deploying Transformative Public Investment to Meet a Global, National and State Challenge
The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 serves as a reminder of the transformative impact of large-scale federal public infrastructure investment. The bill created a 41,000-mile “National System of Interstate and Defense" which accelerated the nation’s reliance on the personal automobile and commercial trucks for goods movement distribution and profoundly shaped our patterns of living today. Today our challenge is no longer building out the interstate system, but rather retrofitting our roadway systems and land use design to ensure a sufficient supply of EV charging stations. For this era, the aspirational vision for the NEVI program is to build a clean transportation network capable of ensuring reliable regional travel and supportive of carbon emission reduction goals to mitigate climate change impacts.
With its reported national budget of $5 billion (8), the NEVI program makes a critical national investment toward a future where the nation’s EV drivers will increasingly have the confidence to drive down any interstate, knowing charging stations will be waiting for them; non-EV drivers will likewise have fewer “range anxiety” concerns should this be a limiting factor in making the transition to operating a plug-in electric vehicle.
The NEVI program's support will help keep the State’s economy and transportation competitive by complementing its advancements and goals in the EV market. Rewarding New Jersey’s innovation and commitments in encouraging the adoption of new EVs on its road, NEVI’s role in building out charging stations to service EVs will ultimately serve the State well. Increasing the reliability of New Jersey EV network will result in reductions in diesel and carbon emissions from automobiles, thereby protecting the environment, health, and pocketbooks of New Jerseyans.
The sixth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-6) was kicked off with a Virtual Summit that introduced the innovations that FHWA would be promoting over the next 2 years. The summit also featured a National State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Network Showcase that highlighted some 245 innovations developed and deployed by agencies throughout the United States. This article is one in a series that takes a closer look at “homegrown innovations” implemented by state and local agencies to save lives, time, and money.
Highlighted by the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA)’s journal Innovator in its March/April 2018 issue, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) produced a systemic, digitized way for creating an inventory of pedestrian infrastructure (1). As a part of a State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) program, FDOT, in cooperation with the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, Florida International University, and the FHWA created a Safe and Accessible Pedestrian Facility Inventory Model (SAPFIM) (1). SAPFIM has been described as “a web-based application designed to collect, manage and report on pedestrian facilities along public roadways” (2) through cost-effective, real-time means.
The project received STIC incentive funding ($100,000) in 2015 to develop and deploy this GIS-based software tool (3), establishing a model that could be adapted and scaled for other local projects and transportation agencies.
As part of the STIC project, several agencies had an opportunity to test SAPFIM and provide feedback that the project team used to modify the software and user’s guide.
SAPFIM has four core functions in recording, managing, mapping, and generating reports on pedestrian. Source Dr. Fabian Cevallos, National Center for Transit Research.
The general design of SAPFIM was broken by researcher into the image above; this particular division of functions could provide a conceptual basis for digital collection software on different topics as well. Source Dr. Fabian Cevallos, National Center for Transit Research.
As an example, a fire hydrant obstructing the middle of a sidewalk might render a pathway inaccessible to wheelchair users. This obstruction in the sidewalk can be photographed and reported in SAPFIM resulting in its identification, labeling and geo-location. Such a tool allows local agencies to better track their pedestrian features while needing less time and resources. The technology also alerts planners and other officials to what pedestrian improvements, repairs, or even new constructions need priority in real-time. With updates being automatically incorporated in a wider database, information storage and retrieval is generally more complete yet simplified for users.
Obstructions to sidewalks and the location of critical pedestrian infrastructure, such as pushbuttons, away from pavement can signal spatial hostility to pedestrians. Right image courtesy of www.pedbikeimages.org; Dan Burden; left image courtesy of www.pedbikeimages.org, Laura Sandt.
As highlighted in a presentation from one of its research team members, SAPFIM collects over 80 standard attributes (2), such as geographic and photographic references, to describe pedestrian infrastructure across the Sunshine State. Authorized users can use wireless devices (smartphones, laptop, tablets, etc.) to enter information on a pedestrian feature or update an existing one. By answering preset criteria tailored to three categories of features (sidewalks, curb ramps, and crossings), compliance with American Disability Act (ADA) accessibility statutes or general safe, comfortable pedestrian design could then be assessed and improved upon (2).
Teams collecting data for SAPFIM still physically measure sites before inputting the information digitally. This physical component could help experientially familiarize participating stakeholders with the wider built environment of their communities. Courtesy of Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization.
A similar program from Seminole County, Florida revamped the transcription and tracking processes of their ADA pedestrian ramp inspections into a digital, mobile application that utilized GIS technology (4). Ultimately winning the FHWA’s 2021 Building a Better Mousetrap Smart Transformation Award, the Seminole County ADA ramp tracker reduced inspection times of individual ramps from 1.5 hours to 5 minutes (4). It streamlined the entire tracking process of a feature from taking 3-4 days with pen and paper to reportedly a single day (4) by also eliminating a multi-hour step of transferring physical records to digital ones.
It is unclear if the Seminole County’s trackers were built off of SAPFIM, but nonetheless the demonstrated utility of the County’s efforts validates the purpose of the FDOT project. Applying digital cataloging technology to the built-environment clearly suggests that the future of transportation maintenance will include enhanced digital record-keeping, including breaches to accessibility ordinances. Such technology continues to be re-tailored to maintenance of street lights, potholes, public bathroom accessibility, curb-cuts and other physical assets and their attributes. The equity and cost-saving gains of these homegrown innovations warrant further attention and deployment, particularly in ways that can respond creatively to rising pedestrian fatalities nationally and in New Jersey (5).
Cevallos, Fabian. (2020. June 1). Safe and Accessible Pedestrian Facility Inventory Model (SAPFIM): Development. National Center for Transit Research (NCTR), University of South Florida. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/323870213.pdf
With federal and state taxes on gasoline becoming less viable as a mechanism for funding transportation infrastructure, the State of New Jersey is looking for participants with passenger and commercial vehicles for a study on Mileage-Based User Fee study. This study is the most recent, fourth phase of the Eastern Transportation Coalition’s wider exploration of Mileage-Based User Fees (MBUF) as a new model for funding transportation infrastructure.
An alternative way for generating revenues for highway maintenance, repair, and construction, a MBUF would charge motorists by the number of miles they travel rather than “at the pump”. For years now, improvements in the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles (i.e. improved miles-per-gallon) have reduced the gasoline tax revenue generated per user, even as the size of vehicles and therefore their potential for wear on the road has only increased. The advent of widespread electric vehicles (EVs) also presents users who do not pay into gasoline taxes at all. Replacing gasoline taxes with a MBUF would be a way of rebalancing costs and benefits of transportation infrastructure for the modern era.
Implementation of MBUF could take many different forms, hence the need for New Jersey to study aspects of potential MBUF systems, such as methods for tracking miles traveled or ways to still encourage fuel efficient vehicles. Similarly, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has committed to $18.7 million in innovation-oriented funding towards exploring MBUF (1). Notably the Eastern Transportation Coalition (ETC), comprised of New Jersey, 16 other states, and District of Columbia, received support from the FHWA in its exploration of MBUF. The ETC’s “National Truck Pilot and State Passenger Vehicle Pilot” has rolled out four mileage reporting options, with two of them being plug-ins to vehicles’ on-board diagnostic port called a OBD-II Port. One connected plug-in utilizes GPS and the other records miles traveled without GPS.
The other two, non-plug-in options for tracking miles are manual entries of distances recorded by odometers and in-vehicle telemetry. The manual entry is the basic “low-tech” option where the participant provides monthly odometer readings to the Pilot program either through logging into an account to type in the readings or alternatively, they can get a reading automatically by taking a picture of the odometer through an app. For newer vehicles with more advanced electronics, participants can enable their vehicles’ in-vehicle telemetry to automatically send relevant odometer information. Detailed step-by-step instructions for authorizing In-Vehicle Telematics will be provided to the approved participants after enrollment.
Beyond the technical experimentation with hardware, a past phase of the ETC pilot gauged the opinions of motorists and truckers on MBUF systems. For instance, 52 percent of passenger vehicle participants expressed some level of concern about privacy in a MBUF system at the start of their participation (2). By the end of the pilot, however, only 7 percent still had such concerns due to the privacy practices incorporated into how the plug-in technology was utilized. Strategies to ensure privacy, such as the legal prevention of data sales to third parties and the automatic destruction of user data 30 days after the pilot may have allayed some concerns. If representative of the wider public, this change in opinion suggests that reservations about MBUF may be overcome with greater exposure to the system and responsible implementation.
Several other observations and findings from the pilot were reported; for example, motorists and truckers were especially concerned that the MBUF may unfairly impact residents of rural areas, drivers of fuel efficient vehicles, and in-state drivers. There were also worries regarding if reporting and paying miles under a MBUF would be burdensome or convoluted (3). However, information from the previous Phases of the ETC’s pilot actually shows that on average rural drivers would spend less money in a MBUF since they tend to ride less fuel efficient vehicles (2).
Depending on the structure of a MBUF, different rates of payment could incentivize vehicle adoption based on fuel efficiency or EV-status. However, individuals from the trucking sector have expressed concern with this since smaller trucking firms tend to use older, less efficient vehicles; similarly, drivers of older model, less fuel-efficient passenger vehicles may be opposed to such a tiered pricing scheme. A truncated report by the ETC recommends avoiding the tiering of fee rates by fuel efficiency for these reasons. All the same, there is flexibility in the formulation of MBUF to reward fuel efficient motor vehicles, if one-day desired by the public or environmentally necessary.
Continued participation and feedback in New Jersey on the ETC’s MBUF Pilot is therefore critical in assessing how best to ensure that future implementation is fair and effective. Participating is free; NJ participants will receive a $50 gift card for their completion of a pre-study survey at a location of their choice from a select list (4), and another $50 gift card for the completion of a post-study survey, as well. All program-related data will remain secure and confidential, as the data will be destroyed shortly after the completion of the Pilot.
Your participation would take the form of four steps (4):
Enroll - Fill out the enrollment form by clicking the link on the website.
Insert - Plug a small device into your vehicle to record mileage.
Drive - Then drive as you normally do.
Return - After a few months, mail back the device
If you are interested in testing the technology and offering your insights in an investigation that could future transportation funding in New Jersey, please visit NewJerseyMBUFpilot.com to learn more and enroll by July 31st to participate in this innovative program.
If you have questions, contact a Pilot team member at 609-293-7800 or NewJersey@MBUFpilot.org.
The Eastern Transportation Coalition provides useful information on their Pilot Program and MBUF at the following links:
The NJDOT Research Library maintains a “Did You Know” page to share basic facts about the research library, transportation research resources, and newly issued publications. The TRB Publications, May to June 2022 list includes recently published research in operations and traffic management, data information and technology, bridges and structures, pavements, safety and human factors, and construction, among others.
The most recent TR News, May-June 2022, features several articles on Pavement Preservation, Maintenance and Rehabilitation. In all, some 30+ research and general readership articles on pavements were issued through TR News and the Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Record.
For those who are not pavement lovers, a few planning and economic articles caught our eye, including:
The ASTM Standards, January to April, 2022 list includes recently proposed and revised ASTM standards. As a reminder, the ASTM Book of Standards is available through the ASTM COMPASS Portal for NJDOT employees.
Please contact the NJDOT research librarian, Eric Schwarz, MSLIS, at (609) 963-1898, or email at email@example.com for assistance on how to retrieve these or other publications.