NJ’s Fuel Cell Task Force – An Interview with NJDOT’s Representative

The New Jersey Fuel Cell Task Force is an interdisciplinary board of experts established in 2020 by an act of the State legislature to provide policy and regulatory recommendations to the government and stakeholders relating to the development of fuel cell technology in New Jersey. Within a wider national and state context of decarbonization, the Task Force’s advocacy and expertise for this green technology is intended to assist the State of New Jersey reach climate and pollution commitments, and diversify its energy mix towards the vision established in the 2019 New Jersey Energy Master Plan. Fuel cells chiefly derive energy from chemical processes that combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce water vapor and heat.

We spoke with the Fuel Cell Task Force’s appointed member from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Jamie DeRose, to learn about the mission and activities of the Task Force, the State’s climate and energy objectives, the current capabilities of the technology, and the future of the fuel cell industry.

Background

Q. Can you tell us about the Fuel Cell Task Force’s principal mission and your role and involvement on behalf of NJDOT?

New Jersey’s Fuel Cell Task Force’s purpose is to inform policy and identify opportunities for New Jersey to realize the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology and broadly to help the State reach its principal climate goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050. As part of this purpose and the wider goal of switching to clean energies, the Task Force is looking to increase the usage of fuel cell technology throughout the State. The Task Force is a resource for the state and local government for recommendations to grow our fuel cell industry.

The processes of a hydrogen fuel cell in a vehicle do not emit the same air quality pollutants as traditional fossil fuels like diesel: just vapor and heat. Source: Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, US DoE, https://www.energy.gov/articles/celebrate-hydrogen-and-fuel-cell-day-energy-department

The processes of a hydrogen fuel cell in a vehicle do not emit the same air quality pollutants as traditional fossil fuels like diesel: just vapor and heat. Source: Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, US DoE, https://www.energy.gov/articles/celebrate-hydrogen-and-fuel-cell-day-energy-department

My background at NJDOT is as a travel demand modeler and as an air quality modeler. Much of what my group handles has to do with the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program. Until recently, alternate fuel sources to traditional fossil fuels, such as hydrogen fuel cells, were considered somewhat “exotic” to our purposes, but EVs are becoming increasingly germane to CMAQ (particularly with funding from the State’s side of CMAQ). Fuel cells will play a part in improving air quality on the road. My involvement with the Task Force reflects that aspect of the technology’s potential.

Q. What roles do you feel that hydrogen fuel cells could play in advancing a low-carbon energy mix in the future in New Jersey? In what areas do the natural and/or present advantages of fuel cell technology show the most promise as a green energy source?

The advantages in storage efficiencies and fueling time for hydrogen fuel cell technology prime it to evolve into a cleaner, more convenient source of fuel for transportation and power stations. The chief byproduct of fuel cells is water vapor and heat. Fuel cells’ ability to retain this clean energy without the same level of loss as electric batteries give it a potential role in transportation and freight facilities that is already being realized in New Jersey and the country as a whole.

Fueling at hydrogen pumps is generally comparable in terms of time and convenience of fueling at gasoline stations. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hydrogen_fueling.jpg Dick Lyon, Wikimedia

Fueling at hydrogen pumps is generally comparable in terms of time and convenience of fueling at gasoline stations. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hydrogen_fueling.jpg Dick Lyon, Wikimedia

Q. What is the current status of the Task Force deliberations and development of the main report?

We have been working toward completing a full report on New Jersey’s potential within the fuel cell space. During this process, a consortium has been formed to pursue one of four prospective awards for a federal Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program. The scope of the report evolved to support the State’s efforts – as a part of the multistate coalition with New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts – to attract this part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s funding for the fuel cell industry. The Task Force decided to take some of the recommendations from the report and distill them into a smaller, interim report to assist the State in preparing materials for this competitive grant application for the regional clean hydrogen hubs program.

[The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) subsequently released its Notice of Intent to develop regional clean hydrogen hubs. DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations–in collaboration with the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the DOE Hydrogen Program–anticipates issuing a related funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in the September/October 2022 timeframe].

Further Development

Q. What are some of the most important developments happening in the testing or deployment of fuel cell technology in New Jersey? What are some of the most noteworthy fuel cell operations and deployments within NJ’s transportation sector or other sectors?

There are a number of hydrogen-powered equipment deployments in New Jersey’s warehouses and ports that fill present use-cases for the technology. The 2021 law that formed the Task Force states that NJ agencies should consider fuel cell technology when putting out contracts for items such as generators, portable floodlights, and telecommunications equipment. In general, this greater recognition of the portability of fuel cells is a major development in how the state government approaches the technology, and alternative energy sources more broadly.

An early 2014 showcase from Toyota shows the potential seamlessness of incorporating hydrogen into personal vehicles and this reality is increasingly being actualized. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toyota_hydrogen_fuel_cell_at_the_2014_New_York_International_Auto_Show_(13956809802).jpg Joseph Brent, Wikimedia

An early 2014 showcase from Toyota shows the potential seamlessness of incorporating hydrogen into personal vehicles and this reality is increasingly being actualized. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toyota_hydrogen_fuel_cell_at_the_2014_New_York_International_Auto_Show_(13956809802).jpg Joseph Brent, Wikimedia

Q. What types of infrastructure can NJDOT develop, or financial and technical assistance can it provide to support the use of fuel cells in New Jersey?

At this stage, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the NJ Board of Public Utilities are leaders among the state agencies in seeking ways to encourage the development of the fuel cell industry in New Jersey. Nonetheless, NJDOT can play an important role through installation of fuel cell pumping stations on its properties and support for acquisition of fuel cell waste-trucks or other heavy equipment that the technology is serving well at the moment.

New Jersey’s Electric Vehicle Act of 2020 mandates that 25 percent of State-owned non-emergency light duty vehicles are to be electric by 2025, moving to 100 percent by the end of 2035. Presently, the thinking is mostly focused on EVs, but NJDOT could incorporate fuel cell vehicles into that vision. The Task Force would certainly like to see this inclusion.

Q.  Within a transportation context, current discourse suggests that hydrogen fuel cells may be more suitable for heavy-duty vehicles such as freight trucks and forklifts than EV, but less suitable for personal automobiles. Would you agree with this assessment of the capabilities of the fuel cell and EV technology? 

It increasingly seems that any technology that relies on electric batteries such as EVs could have a fuel cell version. The fueling times for hydrogen fuel cells are comparable to what we are accustomed to at the pump; that is, a 2-3 minute refuel as opposed to a 30-minute refuel for EVs. Even within the present developments for the technologies, fuel cells have filled a niche for larger vehicles such as freight trucks and forklifts, and are arguably the best of all green fuel sources. Fuel cells may eventually become the next generation of transportation energy after EVs.

Fuel cell technologies’ current advantages for larger sized vehicles lend itself to buses as well. China is more heavily invested that application than other nations, but this MBTA bus shows the innovation occurring at home. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MBTA_hydrogen_fuel_cell_bus_at_Malden_Center,_December_2016.jpg Jason Lawrence, Wikimedia

Fuel cell technologies’ current advantages for larger sized vehicles lend itself to buses as well. China is more heavily invested in that application than other nations, but this MBTA bus shows the innovation occurring at home. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MBTA_hydrogen_fuel_cell_bus_at_Malden_Center,_December_2016.jpg Jason Lawrence, Wikimedia

Q. Can you comment on how hydrogen fuel cells could be used to address equity gaps? Can deployment of hydrogen fuel cells help historically disadvantaged communities receive opportunities and benefits connected to this transition?

A number of industrial partners, trade groups, and state government officials are involved in the roll out of fuel cell technology, helping to ensure the economic and environmental benefits touch all of society. The environmental justice aspect of what hydrogen fuel cell technology represents has been discussed and is regarded as especially important to the Task Force. Many of New Jersey’s ports and warehouses are located in North Jersey urban areas, and many of those communities are historically disadvantaged environmentally and otherwise. Improvements in air quality from fuel cell sourced equipment, trucks, and forklifts lend themselves well to addressing social justice and social equity in New Jersey.

Further Possibilities

Q. Are there barriers to deployment with respect to the different use-cases for fuel cells that you would like to highlight?

The absence of refueling infrastructure and stations is a significant barrier to proliferation of fuel cell trucks and personal vehicles. With the technology as it is today, fuel cell freight trucks could reasonably fill their niche with enough supporting physical infrastructure, and overcoming that gap is important to the Task Force. Another barrier is the EV focus of a lot of alternative fuel tax credits; you might get a tax credit from the State for buying an electric car or vehicle but not for a fuel cell one. Including fuel cell vehicles in the incentives for decarbonizing transportation will help remove some of the cost barriers that were removed for EVs by policy.

In addition, certain regulations prevent hydrogen vehicles from traveling in Port Authority of New York and New Jersey tunnels. Such regulations exist in some states but not in others, and it is a barrier that the Task Force has also discussed. According to the vehicle experts, the technology has mostly evolved beyond this concern.

Q. According to the USDoE, “95 percent of the hydrogen produced in the United States is made by natural gas reforming in large central plants”; what does a connection between hydrogen fuel cell production and natural gas mean to NJ Fuel Cell Task Force’s mission of promoting the growth of the fuel cell industry?

The topic of green hydrogen – generally hydrogen produced through a more renewable process known as water electrolysis – has been an interest of the Task Force. The fuel cell industry of the future will likely focus on such cleaner modes of hydrogen production, though these efforts may rest more with the NJDEP or the federal Department of Energy than with NJDOT at this time.

Presently, most hydrogen gas is produced from natural gas processes, but the proliferation of more green methods, such as from water electrolysis, is increasingly important to the direction of the industry.  Source: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, US DoE https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/hydrogen/production-of-hydrogen.php

Presently, most hydrogen gas is produced from natural gas processes, but the proliferation of more green methods, such as from water electrolysis, is increasingly important to the direction of the industry.  Source: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, US DoE https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/hydrogen/production-of-hydrogen.php

Q. What initiatives or projects in other states regarding fuel cells is NJ’s Fuel Cell Task Force benchmarking itself against, or looking towards in terms of formulating their own approach?

As with many environmental policies and priorities, California is a leader in the deployment of hydrogen vehicles, stations, and infrastructure. More so than a particular project, we view California’s general success with the deployment of fuel cell technology as a benchmark and make efforts to facilitate a conversation across state lines. The Task Force has spoken with the California Hydrogen Business Council to better understand how advocates for the industry side of the deployment equation are helped by the State’s efforts.


Resources

Further information on the Fuel Cell Task Force:

Alternative Fuels Data Center. (2022). Fuel Cell Task Force.
https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/12425

New Jersey Fuel Cell Coalition. (2021, August 28). New Jersey’s Fuel Cell Task Force Members Have Been Appointed.
https://njfuelcells.org/senate-environment-energy-committee-passes-fuel-cell-task-force-bill/

Further information on the federal Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program:

Transport Topics. (2022, May 27). States Make Plays to Become Federal Hydrogen Fuel Hubs, Transport Topics.
https://www.ttnews.com/articles/states-make-plays-become-federal-hydrogen-fuel-hubs-0

New York State. (2022, March 24). Governor Hochul Announces Multi-State Agreement Signed with Major Hydrogen Ecosystem Partners to Propose a Regional Clean Energy Hydrogen Hub.
https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2022-Announcements/2022-03-24-Governor-Hochul-Announces-Multi-State-Agreement-on-Hydrogen

Further information on the hydrogen fuel cell industry:

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. (2020, September). 2019 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report.
https://publications.anl.gov/anlpubs/2021/08/166534.pdf

Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association. (2020). Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy.
https://www.fchea.org/us-hydrogen-study

Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association. (2022, March). Summary of Hydrogen Provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53ab1feee4b0bef0179a1563/t/623206bc8d2d786ffe929c65/1647445692646/FCHEA+IIJA+Hydrogen+Program+Summary+2022.pdf

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development – Model Programs, Partnerships and Lessons from Oregon

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private firms communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector. Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

We interviewed representatives from Oregon’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI), including Angela Crain (ODOT Civil Rights Manager), Cye Fink (ODOT Workforce Development and Civil Rights/EE Manager) and Larry Williams (BOLI, Operations and Policy Analyst).  We sought to explore the distinct roles and partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) in funding, promoting, and providing technical assistance for on-the-job training programs, and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, to support all workers including women, minorities and other disadvantaged individuals seeking to enter highway construction and other related fields.

Highway Construction Workforce Development Program

Q. Can you please share with us, based on your experience, your thoughts on what seems to be an overall lack of awareness– especially among women and minority persons – of jobs or careers in the highway construction industry?

The ODOT Office of Civil Rights uses FHWA funding to support On the Job Training and Supportive Services.

The ODOT Office of Civil Rights uses FHWA funding to support On the Job Training and Supportive Services.

The lack of awareness primarily stems from the school systems. For years, school guidance counselors have not promoted any path but college to most of their students.  Highway construction is presented as a viable career only to those students who are not going on to college.

We work to raise awareness of careers in highway construction by disseminating information on these opportunities to school counselors and parents, as they are the support system for children. Careers in highway construction offer competitive paying jobs with family- supporting wages. We are trying to reach the students, beginning at the elementary school level because, unless students know someone who works in construction, they are mostly unaware of the career options in the field.

Some of the most successful linkages have been made by teachers who work in construction during the summer months and bring their experience back to the students. For example, they will use construction-related math curricula in the classroom. Shop classes, which were useful in helping students become familiar with tools and various trades, are rarely offered anymore due to budget cuts.

Information about the majority of our DOT programs is spread by word of mouth. We use the testimonials of individuals who have been through our programs, and we do a lot of outreach to communicate personal success stories of program participants. We also work with our partners, Building Trades Councils of Oregon, Akana, Oregon Tradeswomen, and other stakeholders and agencies, to get the word out. And we, of course, participate in career fairs, and high school Career and Technical Education programs to build the career pipeline. As far as encouraging Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and women candidates, our numbers are growing steadily each year with more starting and finishing our programs, but the ratio is still not where we want it to be.

The Oregon Bureaus of Labor & Industries is responsible for pre-pre-apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and apprenticeship programs.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries is responsible for pre-pre-apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and apprenticeship programs.

Q. We understand that 2009 legislation created Oregon’s Highway Construction Workforce Development Program (HCWDP) designed to diversify six heavy construction trades related to highway construction including carpenters and cement masons. This nationally recognized innovative initiative enables registered apprentices and those preparing to enter an apprenticeship in one of these trades to receive support in ten areas, including child care, travel expenses, lodging/meal allowance, tools, and PPE, among others. Are all of these efforts supported through HCWDP?

We use FHWA and state dollars to fund the program and follow federal regulations (23 CFR Part 230) that lay out what these 10 supportive services have to look like. In 2009, the Oregon legislature passed a bill that required ODOT to provide On-the-Job Training and workforce development supportive services, applying language from the federal regulations. Once this law was established there could be no question that the funding would be dedicated to the program rather than other priorities, such as road repair. Since this focus on workforce development is embedded in Oregon statute, ODOT has a pathway for consistent funding.

In 2016 we added hardship assistance to the list of available supports offered by HCWDP. Overall, we are working to support people in getting on a career track by offering supportive services that enable them to stay in the programs and eventually reach journey worker status, which offers meaningful long-term career development. The heavy highway trades are the focus of the program because the workers are mobile. Although there may be layoffs or projects end, as long as they stay in the system, participants will continue to have the opportunity to work on ODOT projects so they can graduate to journey worker status.

Q. ODOT and the BOLI have partnered to meet the goals of adding more diversity in hiring, increasing apprenticeship numbers and providing resources for training. What have been the key benefits of ODOT partnering with BOLI?

Our partnership with BOLI has been vital to our success. In Oregon, BOLI oversees apprenticeships and approves pre-apprenticeship programs. BOLI’s key value to HCWDP comes from their connections with their subcontractors who have experience in promoting and supporting workforce development in the highway construction trades, particularly among women and minorities. BOLI works with the contractors affiliated with the training programs, has authority over the contractors, and maintains a database to track the apprentices. When workers graduate to the journey worker level, they can work anywhere within the state and nationwide. This program offers meaningful, long-term career development.

The ODOT/BOLI collaboration provides needed supports to help people stay in the apprenticeship programs.

The ODOT/BOLI collaboration provides needed supports to help people stay in the apprenticeship programs.

There is no value in ODOT having its own apprenticeship-type programs when BOLI is providing them in alignment with US DOL. We at ODOT are embedding elements in the program including respectful workplaces, Green Dot, Riseup, and third party oversight through Portland State University, who are helping us with planning. Additionally, BOLI receives grants to target particular workforce areas; they leverage our resources at ODOT, while we simultaneously leverage their resources.

From the BOLI perspective, the partnership with ODOT allows BOLI to provide the support side to the apprenticeship programs. If you have the apprentices out there, you need to have the supports in place to help them succeed.

In most cases, BOLI has closed gaps in terms of completion rates for underrepresented demographic groups. For African American men, there has been improvement, but we want to close the gap further. There may be barriers that still need to be addressed. In addition, we have shown that the program works, as it is improving success rates, but it is only available to those apprentices associated with the highway construction trades. For example, we provide child care for a cement mason but not a brick mason. That is an area of concern for BOLI as they seek to determine ways to provide similar supports for other trades moving forward.

Apprenticeships and Pre-apprenticeships

Q. ODOT and BOLI have focused on improving opportunities for individuals who graduate from a pre-apprenticeship program to get more trade-specific training and improved access to registration into a highway trade apprenticeship program. What can you share about this work?

Apprenticeships in Oregon are regulated and supported by BOLI and offer on the job training and classroom training and typically require 2-5 years to complete and may be union-based or open shop. We focus on connecting pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships.

Under the BOLI umbrella, there are apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and pre-pre-apprenticeship programs. Pre-pre-apprenticeships help people overcome basic gaps to complete prerequisites needed for pre-apprenticeships, such as needing a driver’s license, GED or high school diploma. The pre-apprenticeship might provide skills training for those who need hours learning to use tools.

We have worked on direct entry with some of the trades so individuals can join an apprenticeship program without completing the ranking process or interview because the pre-apprenticeship has helped them prepare for the job, with some individuals also bringing work history that enables them to skip one or more levels of training. They have to complete the application and meet minimum qualifications that can be simply being 18 years old and having a high school diploma or GED, and in other cases, may require a minimum level of math proficiency, for example.

Q. Is this effort the same as, or part of, your On-the-Job Training (OJT)? Could you speak about your On-the-Job Training (OJT) program?

Supportive services can increase diversity in apprenticeship programs and the highway construction workforce.

Supportive services can increase diversity in apprenticeship programs and the highway construction workforce.

On-the-Job Training/Supportive Services program funding from FHWA is internally directed to STEM/Engineering outreach, recruitment, and support. OJT is a very small piece of what we at ODOT do; only about two people every year go through this OJT training because most contractors are affiliated with a formal apprenticeship program.

ODOT and FHWA created OJT for candidates with no experience to offer them a chance to begin work with a contractor directly. As part of the federal regulations, OJT is provided through each project. If the contractor awarded the contract has no affiliation as a training agent themselves or they are not Oregon-based, and have no formal apprenticeship program, they can use one of our in-house training programs to fulfill the contractual requirement.

It is the small contractor or the first-time prime who would use this OJT option.  We provide some incentives, including reimbursing $20/hour for every apprenticeship hour. An individual with no prior experience who applies off the street with that contractor must receive training. The contractor is paying journey worker level pay, and OJT does provide a means to recruit candidates from underrepresented groups. It’s a business choice that the contractor makes. The 2,000-hour OJT program trains for labor skills sets, and we also have a 6,000-hour construction project management program. This informal training is not tied to a path to journey worker status but there is the potential for the individual to have direct entry into the apprenticeship system after completing the OJT training.

Q. We know that reliable transportation and childcare are often cited as roadblocks to entry into the construction sector, particularly for women and minority candidates. Can you tell us how supportive services such as childcare and payment of travel costs help sustain apprentices?

Offering incentives and support services for apprentices is critical to their success. Childcare is a big issue. It’s not only single moms who face childcare challenges, but any single parent and/or underemployed families. Awareness of the HCWDP childcare support options has spread through word of mouth.

Work hours for highway construction are long. For example, apprentices may leave their house at 4:00 am to travel 40 miles to the worksite and work 10-hours. The challenges for us in supporting childcare include the costs and finding a provider that has capacity and offers their services in off-peak hours. ODOT/BOLI uses the state childcare provider certification system to identify providers. We give incentives to providers so that they can offer alternative hours to accommodate the long work days. We don’t have enough funds to subsidize all the childcare needed. Childcare is provided using a BOLI-determined sliding scale formula based on economic need and wage rate; the support level declines as the individuals progress through the system and earn higher wages.

The Pre-Apprenticeship Child Care Initiative (PACCI) program began as a pilot to provide childcare supports to pre-apprentices but is now a part of the general operation. Pre-apprenticeship programs, which are often 8-12 week courses in the classroom, may provide on-site child care. We are indirectly supporting these childcare opportunities.

Everything we do helps keep people on the path to journey work. With the regional wildfires displacing workers, we have been distributing hardship funds. Apprentices are eligible for this support. The transition between pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeships is accomplished through Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATCs) and we work with them to connect to the primes and contractors. There is usually a waiting list of apprentices available.

One difficult challenge that we are seeing is that primes are looking for apprentices with three to four years of experience. They have less incentive to pick up the first-year apprentices who will require more supervision and training. We are trying to address this issue and find ways to support these individuals within the system to acquire experience.

BOLI helps individuals find where to start on the path to a journeyworker position and, through its partners, provides support along the way.

BOLI helps individuals find where to start on the path to a journeyworker position and, through its partners, provides support along the way.

Q. What can you share with us about the newer “Build your future. Build Oregon.” initiative and what special efforts are being undertaken to generate interest among underrepresented demographic groups?

ODOT receives federal and state funding for the workforce development program. Through an interagency agreement BOLI provides contract administration and ODOT holds BOLI accountable for the 10 required support areas of the program. BOLI then contracts out all these deliverables through a competitive process. We collaborate with BOLI on the subcontracting deliverables At any one time, BOLI might have six to eight subcontractors. One of the partners, Akana, embraced how to implement all these support services through one of these contracts, and they branded the supportive services piece as “Build your future. Build Oregon.” This effort has helped broadcast information about the workforce development program throughout Oregon and helps make more people aware of various program elements and assistance available.

Q. Are you aware of any model practices currently in use among community-based organizations to support women, minorities, and others looking at the construction trades?

Three Oregon-based organizations that provide support for underrepresented populations are: Oregon Tradeswomen which helps women build economic independence; Constructing Hope which is a pre-apprenticeship program in Portland; and Akana which is a Native American-owned, private sector, for-profit organization.

To increase awareness in careers in construction, Akana presents a podcast occasionally. Oregon Tradeswomen historically runs a women and trades fair with dedicated times for adults and for students. This is an opportunity for individuals to meet with people in the trades and talk about those trades and what careers paths they offer. (The fair has been on hiatus due to Covid-19.)

Q. How do you reach people who are no longer in school?

The average age for apprentices is 29 for males, and a little older for women. Some are seeking a second career, or maybe they have some construction experience, but it was limited to residential construction. To raise awareness of the HCWDP program, we work with various membership groups including: the National Association of Minority Contractors; Portland business development groups; Project Working Groups; Chambers of Commerce; veterans; advisory groups; and Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance programs on and near tribal reservations.

We have found that it is important to help people know where to start. We are working on simplifying the on-ramp to the whole system and providing a flow chart to help describe access to the system. We are looking forward to in-person recruitment events again after the last couple of years of virtual meetings.

Looking Ahead

Q. Do you have any concluding thoughts or advice on what strategies NJDOT can pursue to encourage more New Jerseyans to consider a career in the construction industry?

Seek and access the available FHWA funding, and direct it to your workforce development or OJT/Supportive Services programs. You can accomplish what we have in Oregon without legislative mandates. A lot of states work off their annual FHWA allocation but this would be only about $78,000 for Oregon – definitely not enough to build a workforce development program. Instead, work with your organization and your FHWA division field office to access other federal funding and more recently available Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) dollars.  Without these additional funds, we would not have adequate funding for all our programs and to grow the pipeline and help people move to journey worker status.

In terms of career progression opportunities beyond journey worker, participants could start their own business, maybe becoming a DBE or WBE, and graduate from a DBE program and become a contractor.

It is important to recognize that time is needed to measure success of initiatives like HCWDP, as participants will need two to six years to progress through the system. We have been at this for years and have dedicated partners. You need the sustained funding. There will be no big impact achieved if you can only give out a little bit of money each year to support efforts.

Resources

Akana
http://akana.us/
http://akana.us/odot-boli-main/odot-boli-apprentices/
http://akana.us/odot-boli-main/odot-boli-applicants/

Constructing Hope
https://www.constructinghope.org/

Federal Highway Administration On the Job Training and Supportive Services
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/civilrights/programs/ojt.cfm

National Association of Minority Contractors
https://namcnational.org/

ODOT/BOLI Highway Construction Workforce Development Program Final Report IAA 30668 July 2015 – June 2017
https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Business/OCR/SiteAssets/Pages/Workforce-Development/ODOT_BOLI_Highway_Construction_Workforce_Development_Program_2017.pdf

Oregon State Building Trades Council
https://www.oregonbuildingtrades.com/

Oregon Tradeswomen
https://oregontradeswomen.org/

Real Help for Working Oregonians – The BOLI_ODOT Workforce Development Program
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sNS5xV9Pa8

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: An Interview with NJDOT’s Human Resources

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

We spoke with Kelly Hutchinson, Director, Human Resources at NJDOT about ongoing and planned workforce development initiatives at NJDOT.

Workforce Development at NJDOT

Q. We know that NJDOT engages in a variety of innovative programs to attract and retain your workforce. Could you update us on the status of some of these programs?

Operations Apprenticeship Program

NJDOT’s Operations Apprentice Program offers a structured path to advancement

NJDOT’s Operations Apprentice Program offers a structured path to advancement.

This program began in 2015 to provide consistent training and skills for workers in Highway Operations and to establish a path to advancement and has focused on developing a job title structure and staffing profile for participants as well as both on-the-job and classroom training. We are still promoting the program and trying to get our numbers where we want them to be. We will be testing our third of four groups of mid-level individuals at the end of April 2022.

NJ Supervisory Training Empowering Performance (STEP) Training

This program is focused on teaching management skills and several hundred NJDOT employees have completed this very beneficial initiative. The Civil Service Commission provides this training, which has been on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic as instructors prefer in-person classes. We offer a two-day, in-house training on DOT-specific supervisory issues like the supervisor’s role in promoting staff, leaves of absence, working test periods, performance assessment reviews (PARS) and discipline to build on what participants learn in STEP, but we may opt to offer this in-house training first if there is an ongoing delay in STEP availability. We have a lot of new staff advancing to supervisory and managerial roles who could benefit from this training. We would also bring in small groups from this supervisory cohort to participate in and benefit from a few Lunch & Learn sessions. In the past, these smaller group sessions have been very helpful for sharing experiences.

Leadership Academy

This is a Transportation specific Leadership Academy that focuses on the importance of soft skills related to management. In April, the NJ Turnpike Authority will be hosting this program locally with instruction from Dr. Tom DeCoster. Many of our manager-level and future directors will be attending, along with staff from NJ TRANSIT and the Turnpike Authority.

Skill Enhancement for Clerical and Administrative Professionals (SECAP)

This program was originally focused on skill enhancement for staff in clerical positions. Now, more individuals are being hired to fill administrative professional roles, rather than the traditional clerical roles. Persons with technical capabilities, such as policy writing and budget preparation, are filling these roles. In response, we are considering revamping this program to best support the needed skill sets related to these positions.

Administrative College

This program is ongoing and focuses on offering courses on topics such as financial wellness, mental and physical health, and technical skills that can be mastered in a couple of hours. We conducted a survey pre-pandemic to identify what our employees wanted in Administrative College courses.

Promotion of Asst. Engineers to Senior Engineers

NJDOT engineers participate in on-site training as part of a program that moves individuals from journey level to mid-level positions.

NJDOT engineers participate in on-site training as part of a program that moves individuals from journey level to mid-level positions.

This effort was initiated about seven years ago and we have continued the practice, adding programs for most journey level professional titles in Human Resources, Budget, Planning, Accounting, and Information Technology. When participants have completed one year past their initial training and have been in their journeyman title for two years, management determines whether they are performing higher level work and have mastered the technical skills to be considered a technical expert in the particular area. After three years, they may be considered for reclassification.  Management makes recommendations and provides written justifications to advance persons based on established criteria and must describe why they are recommending an individual, or why they are not. HR ensures that each individual has completed enough time in the title and gives a provisional appointment, but the candidate needs to pass the Civil Service exam to confirm their promotion.

This effort reflects both a retention strategy and a strategy to help bridge the supervisory gap resulting from retirements.

Succession Planning

Promoting continual skill development among NJDOT staff is a priority.

Promoting continual skill development among NJDOT staff is a priority.

Moving forward, NJDOT succession planning training and development will likely be less formalized than the previous NJDOT program. In this former program, participants were selected through an application process, which, in my opinion, may not have been ideal for all employees. Training and development should happen daily, at all levels, and should not be programmed by Human Resources. We are looking to promote parity, transparency and equity through the training programs we just spoke about. Our Leadership Academy and STEP program help workers to advance and instruct supervisors on how to support training and development of all employees. We are depending on management and senior leadership to work on a smaller scale. We want to provide the same level of opportunity to everyone and see who rises to the occasion.

Q. In a presentation to NJ STIC last June, former NJDOT Human Resources Director Michele Shapiro noted that you would be working on trainings for both the Construction Inspectors Apprenticeship program and the Engineering Technician Apprenticeship program. What is the status of these new programs? Do you anticipate developing similar programs for other job titles?

We have the new titles in place, but we do not have the formalized training program developed yet. I have spoken with Asst. Commissioner Snehal Patel and we will be collaborating with the Construction Director to start building the program this summer. Our plan is to update the existing 10-module program for the Resident Engineer Construction Inspectors to adapt to the Apprenticeship program.

Q. We had heard of the possible expansion of experience-based hiring. Are there any updates to this initiative?

Automotive and Electrical Mechanics would be the titles we are considering for a possible formalized program. There are trainees now but we don’t have a formal program. With all the advances in technology, we would like to find a community college partner to provide training and build a title structure based on the new technologies and see if it would increase the salary determination. We have trouble competing with private industries for candidates from these two trades. We are continuing efforts to receive approval for the program from Civil Service but effort was halted with the pandemic.

Q. Does NJDOT have plans to offer internships or similar positions?

We have a Summer Student program called Temporary Employment Services primarily targeted to professional titles. We do not refer to the program as an internship because participants are paid but do not earn academic credit. Typically, we accept rising college seniors, but if applications are light in a given cycle, we sometimes accept sophomores and freshmen as well. Pre-pandemic, it was a great pipeline for permanent positions with the department. In 2019, we had 55 students in the program, paid $20/hour, and 20 percent were hired for full-time positions with NJDOT. With our late start this year, we will have 20 participants. Some may stay with us into the school year, working part-time up to 944 hours per year as permitted by Civil Service.

NJDOT Human Resources staff attend career fairs to raise awareness of rewarding jobs in transportation.

NJDOT Human Resources staff attend career fairs to raise awareness of rewarding jobs in transportation.

The program is beneficial to participants as they receive work experience while earning wages. We recruit candidates via virtual and in-person career fairs, partnerships with alumni of the program and community organizations, campus organizations and using Handshake (an app that connects students on college campuses with open positions, mainly internships and entry level jobs). When we meet with students and other prospective hires, we focus on communicating how NJDOT offers dynamic, interesting, rewarding, and purposeful career opportunities.

Our talent acquisition team facilitates recruitment efforts and includes a diverse group of DOT subject matter experts in addition to our Human Resource representatives. Specifically, members of the team reflect a diversity of ages, genders, races/ethnicities, and career stages. Some are alumni of the Temporary Employment Services program. Also important, team member subject matter expertise varies (e.g., structural, environmental). We have found success with the talent acquisition team as members make personal connections with candidates as they discuss their roles at DOT and opportunities with the department.

Developing the Highway Construction Workforce

Q. There seems to be a lack of awareness – especially among women and minority persons – about jobs/careers in the highway construction industry. Do you know of programs that have been effective at building awareness of job opportunities in transportation in New Jersey?

To recruit a diverse workforce, NJDOT Human Resources focuses on forging relationships with community organizations such as the Society for Hispanic Engineers, Society for African American engineers, Asian American engineers, LGBTQ+, and STEM programs.  We use LinkedIn a great deal to target engineers and collaborate with New Jersey Youth Corps to spread the word on career opportunities at NJDOT.

We also successfully partnered with the Trenton Soup Kitchen, working with job specialists to inform those accessing the kitchen about construction apprenticeships and Highway Operations Tech positions. We have partnered with the National High School Guidance Counselors Association for New Jersey and were able to post in their newsletter about job opportunities that do not require experience via our highway operations tech program.

NJDOT’s programs for career are effective recruitment and retention tools.

NJDOT’s programs for career are effective recruitment and retention tools.

In 2019, we increased representation of African American male applicants by 93 percent for Highway Operations Tech positions. We achieved this goal by reaching out to our many community partners, with 100 African American applicants from the Trenton Soup Kitchen. Finally, we partner with the NJ Department of Labor, One-Stop offices, and attend county and other virtual and in-person job fairs.

Q. Reliable transportation and child care are often cited as roadblocks to entry into the construction sector, particularly for women and minority candidates. What strategies could help to address these issues? Are you aware of any model practices or programs to support women and minority populations looking at the highway construction trades?

We had a program for parolees several years ago that focused on identifying job opportunities for them in locations with good transportation networks, such as Jersey City and Newark.

NJDOT does offer an employee subscription van pool (pre-COVID-19) that accesses various public transit stops near DOT headquarters.

The newly announced Trenton MOVES project seeks to deploy 100 on-demand Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) throughout the state capital; when deployed, it could prove to be great service for helping people access employment opportunities.

Q. Have you worked with the NJ Council of County Colleges to look at possible programs that might advance NJDOT’s goals for workforce development? Do you work with the NJDOL Office of Apprenticeship?

We do collaborate with NJ DOL and with the One-Stops and Career Centers. However, our apprenticeships are not true apprenticeships by federal labor standards, but have similar components. Because we work with Civil Service titles, it is much more difficult for us to be recognized as an official apprenticeship program.

We also have a tuition aid and reimbursement program, at the public college rate, for employees as long as their course of study relates to transportation.

"Yes, we can work with them and are very interested in building these relationships."

Looking Ahead

Q. What strategies should be pursued to encourage more New Jerseyans to consider a career in the construction industry? Who should be leading or involved in those efforts?

Creation and implementation of an awareness campaign to highlight construction career opportunities would be helpful, as such an effort could amplify the message that you don’t have to look a certain way to work in construction. The campaign should highlight the diversity of workers and work options in the construction industry. A team of “ambassadors” comprised of local union representatives, NJDOT staff, and others can describe the different kinds of work available within construction and showcase opportunities to increase interest in the profession.

Q. There have been a number of grant funding opportunities through the Department of Labor for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Is NJDOT able to work with other organizations or academic institutions to build programs using these funds?

Yes, we can work with them and are very interested in building these relationships.

Resources

NJ STEP. Civil Service Commission | NJ Supervisory Training Empowering Performance (NJ STEP).

NJDOT Division of Human Resources. Current Openings & Application Process.

NJDOT Division of Human Resources. KM Toolbox: Last Lecture on Operations Apprenticeship Program.  Presentation to NJ STIC, 2nd Quarter Meeting, 2021

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development in NJ: An Interview with the IUOE Local 825

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA promotes Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

We spoke with Greg Lalevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825.  The organization is collaborating with Hudson County Community College (HCCC) on a newly established apprenticeship program and is undertaking other IUOE initiatives focused on workforce development in highway construction and related fields.

Background

Q. Can you tell us a little about your role with the union?

I am the Business Manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825. The jurisdiction of IUOE Local 825 is the State of New Jersey and the Hudson Valley (Rockland, Ulster, Sullivan, Orange, and Delaware Counties). We are heavy equipment operators, working on buildings, bridges, roadways, ports, airports, utility infrastructure, power generation, and reservoirs around the state such as Round Valley, Spruce Run, and Mercer Lake that ensure our water supply and serve for passive recreation. There isn’t much that an ordinary person does that operating engineers did not have something to do with. We have a 61-acre training center at exit 8A on the NJ Turnpike and a 51-acre training center in the Hudson Valley. I am also one of the vice-presidents for IUOE International, which covers the US and Canada.

Union members are engaged in many kinds of work using heavy equipment, including highway and bridge construction.

Union members engage in many kinds of work using heavy equipment, including highway and bridge construction.

Q. Overall, what professions does IUOE support?

Aside from heavy equipment operators, our members do construction layout and surveying for infrastructure projects. Several members work as mechanics/product support for machinery product lines including Caterpillar, Deere, and Komatsu.

Q. Before we delve into your new IUOE program with Hudson County Community College (HCCC), please tell us, based on your experience, if there is a lack of awareness– especially among women and minority persons – for jobs/careers in the highway construction industry?

The lack of awareness for construction careers reflects a multi-tiered situation. In contrast to those residing in more rural areas, prospective job candidates residing in urban areas typically live “vertically” in high-rises and thus are familiar with professions including plumbers and electricians but not so much the work of operating engineers. They are not typically exposed to professions utilizing heavy machinery.

For the last seven years, I have reached out to political and community leaders in several NJ cities to try to develop a direct-entry program that would bring training opportunities to those communities for jobs that are semi-skilled or lower-skilled. The goal was to work collaboratively with community leaders to create a pipeline for young people to enter the workforce as operating engineers. To operate heavy equipment, one needs hands-on training. Our training facility is on the Turnpike in Middlesex County, which is difficult to access for anyone without a car. In one city, we proposed that we set up basic courses, including OSHA 30-hour construction training and Hazardous Material training, in a school, or faith-based or community center, and we would send an instructor. The participants would be working locally during this time, earning money and accruing benefits. When the trainees had acquired some basic training we would then send the simulator to that location and these individuals could start to acquire hands-on training. After 18-24 months of paid training, they may be able to purchase a vehicle and thereby access the training center. Or we might be able to partner with a faith-based or community center to work out a transportation plan for those facing transport obstacles. I proposed this concept in four NJ cities but, frustratingly, did not receive any positive responses.

IUOE Local 825’s 61-acre training center is located at exit 8A on the NJ Turnpike.

IUOE Local 825’s 61-acre training center is located at exit 8A on the NJ Turnpike.

Q. Several commonly cited roadblocks to entry into the construction sector, particularly for women and minority candidates, include transportation issues and childcare. What strategies could help to address these issues?

Both transportation and childcare issues can be roadblocks to entry into the construction sector. One of the reasons we pursued the NJ PLACE 2.0 grant with a higher education partner was to open the door to Pell grants to underwrite transportation or childcare costs through existing grant funding opportunities that a traditional union apprenticeship would not be eligible. In the past year we received accreditation as a standalone licensed technical college to help us open the doors to more job candidates. As we pursue programs in higher education, we can now take advantage of not only NJ Department of Labor grants, but NJ Department of Education grants as well.

Q. Do you see a role for unions like IUOE in helping to reduce barriers for women, minorities, and others in entering the highway construction trades?

Recently, the Operating Engineers fought to have highway construction work be subject to project labor agreements (PLAs). When it was written twenty years ago, the original legislation exempted this field from these agreements. We retooled the legislation to include much more aggressive percentages of women and minorities required on projects and helped to secure its passage by the legislature. These percentages now apply to any construction project with a value of $5M or more. However, since the law was passed and signed by the Governor in April 2021, the State has not used a PLA on any project.

On-site heavy equipment operator training at IUOE Local 825’s training center.

On-site heavy equipment operator training at IUOE Local 825’s training center.

Participation numbers for female and minority employees on these publicly-funded highway projects are generally set on a county-by-county basis by NJDOT. One of the reasons we strongly support inclusion in PLA is because when our contractors secure a publicly-funded highway job, they often contact IUOE to request our assistance in reaching these goals. We respond affirmatively, but when we offer to help with this recruitment, follow-up from contractors is not forthcoming. The reason is that these participation numbers are goals, not mandates and it would be difficult to make them mandates.

There is a false perception that unions don’t have their doors open to all, and that there is not equity or diversity amongst the ranks. We actively recruit people from the non-union world. However, in the 21 years since I was hired by IUOE, we have only encountered two men of color and one woman working non-union jobs operating heavy equipment. There are few women and minorities working non-union operating equipment; it seems that there is not a real draw to this occupation. So the issue is broader than just the unions.

About five years ago, the number of paving projects in the State was increasing and we saw that our front line paving operators were aging. To address demand, we recruited 36 candidates to join a full-immersion paving training initiative. With paving shut down for the winter, we were able to hire and bring in seasoned major paving contractors as instructors during their off-season. The participants were instructed on one piece of paving equipment for 14-weeks until we knew they could run it proficiently. They were then absorbed by the paving industry for high-paying work during the summer and were brought back each winter over a five-year period to learn another piece of paving equipment. It’s not an apprenticeship program so we were not bound by apprentice rules, but we were able to train a diverse group. Of the 36, over one-third were minorities and women, and one-third were veterans. None of these people were associated with our union. In all, while the paving industry is unique, and our training school had the capacity to respond to this particular need, it represents an example of how thinking outside the box and proactively recruiting targeted groups can be very successful.

The IUOE Local 825 training facility occupies 61 acres where journeyworkers and apprentices can train on a large array of heavy equipment. https://www.iuoe825.org/home/training/

The IUOE Local 825 training facility occupies 61 acres where journeyworkers and apprentices can train on a large array of heavy equipment.

Q. We have heard that pre-apprenticeship programs are growing in popularity across the country. Are you aware of any pre-apprenticeship programs for the highway construction trades in NJ?

Pre-apprenticeship programs are not growing in the highway construction trades, but are happening in the building trades. I have concerns though with the pre-apprenticeship programs that I am aware of. For example, some pre-apprenticeship programs offer testing help that provide individuals with tutors to teach them how to pass the union apprenticeship written test. The percentage of these students who are actually admitted into the apprenticeship program does not appear to be that high however. Candidates are ranked by test score, so those that receive testing assistance might secure an interview, but they typically score lower in the written portion of the apprenticeship exam compared to their peers and thus do not advance. Overall, the competition for these positions is fierce.

The Earn & Learn program was funded by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant through the NJ Department of Labor.

The Earn & Learn program was funded by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant through the NJ Department of Labor.

IUOE Program with HCCC

Q. We know the Earn & Learn program orientation with Hudson County Community College was a few weeks ago [in January 2022]. How is program implementation going so far?

We understand that all 30 students are still enrolled and thriving. This cohort includes 10 minorities, 6 women, and 6 veterans so this is an opportunity to support diversity. For many of them, this is a continuation of their college education, and some are eager to pursue an occupation where they will earn $80-100,000 a year. The NJ PLACE 2.0 grant supports inclusion of a success coach to help keep the students on track, which is helpful. The students will be at our training center in May to begin traditional operating engineer training in the classroom and with equipment.

Q.Will all of your apprentices go through this program in the future, or are there multiple paths to a career in construction?

We have our own very competitive apprenticeship program with 160 people. There’s been a lot written about a skill gaps and a worker shortage. We want to develop a new apprenticeship model and have hired an academic who will begin working with us this spring to help develop some new apprenticeship tracks.

Students gain hands-on experience at IUOE Local 825’s NJ training center.

Students gain hands-on experience at IUOE Local 825’s NJ training center.

We have had a successful process for soliciting apprenticeship applicants in the last two traditional application cycles. There is a date and time when applications are available and the first 250 people in line receive one. The opportunity is posted on the Tuesday after Labor Day. We advertise in the paper and on social media. We have candidates lining up for a week ahead of time. For the Earn & Learn program with Hudson County Community College, the on-line application was opened and the portal had to be shut down in two hours due to the high response.

One gap we are eager to bridge is from the Vo-Tech programs to our apprenticeship program. Individuals have to be 18 years old and a high school graduate to enter an apprenticeship program, but some students are 17 when they graduate from Vo-Tech so we lose this cohort. We are trying to harmonize the end of Vo-Tech education with the beginning of an apprenticeship. Traditionally, our apprenticeship program begins in April. For the Earn & Learn program, we changed the start date to January to align with the academic calendar. Any changes to our apprenticeship programs must be approved by the federal government. Sometimes this process means that we can’t move as quickly as we would want.

People will tell me they can’t find workers, but we can get people; there is a lot of interest in our Operating Engineers apprenticeship program. Several of the other trade union apprenticeship programs are very competitive as well, including the Carpenters and the Ironworkers. The Carpenters union had an arrangement with East Brunswick Vo-Tech for direct entry to the union apprenticeship program for up to three students upon graduation from the carpentry program. The Vo-Tech sends students who are well-prepared and likely to succeed. I am trying to mirror that arrangement with Middlesex County Vo-Tech Career and Technical Education program.

Q. Do you see IUOE Local 825 collaborating with other institutions on similar programs in the future?

Absolutely and with multiple higher education partners and members of the business sector whom we have not yet identified. Hudson County Community College has a construction management program that offers 6-8 courses that build the “perfect operating engineer” and HCCC’s Lori Margolin and I are discussing how we could organize those courses together into a different type of degree program in the future. There are existing programs at other state education institutions that we have been considering as well. We might be able to take advantage of remote learning opportunities.

IUOE 825 will continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with HCCC and other higher education institutions.

IUOE 825 will continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with HCCC and other higher education institutions.

We are also very interested in the transportation-related activities at Rutgers-CAIT (Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation) and testing on bridge work. Rowan University has ongoing asphalt research and recently visited the IUOE training center to see if they could use some of the area for asphalt testing and of course we would support that.

Every year, we have a full-immersion asphalt paving class. A major manufacturer of paving equipment has been visiting our site in the past week teaching our journeyworkers and apprentices about the latest technology on their equipment. We have the equipment dealer with the product support staff and mechanics participate and share the service bulletins and the new information. And the dealers get the word out to members of the broader construction community who can attend these events.

These are ways we will continue to collaborate with the educational world and the business world in the future. We can leverage our 8,000 members, 1,400 employers, 120 pieces of heavy equipment, and 61 acres in New Jersey and 51 acres in the Hudson Valley. We have the laboratory and want to establish synergies and diverse partnerships to support the industry.

As the burgeoning field of automation and robotics for heavy equipment grows, I sit on an IUOE International subcommittee where we are discussing the skill sets and training needed to prepare an individual to be a successful remote equipment operator or REO. We can work with the computer engineers to let them know what aspects of heavy equipment operation may not be transferable to computers and what alternatives there might be to support their efforts.

Looking Ahead

Q. What strategies should be pursued to encourage more New Jerseyans to consider a career in the construction industry? Who should be leading or involved in those efforts?

A key reason why our organization migrated toward the higher education piece is because we believe that we will secure a more diverse population of job candidates by doing so. Specifically, offering an avenue to earn an Associate’s degree is helping to increase awareness for construction and operating engineer careers.

Students in Somerset County’s MEAM program participated in an Operating Engineer Awareness program and IUOE’s training facility.

Students in Somerset County’s MEAM program participated in an Operating Engineer Awareness program and IUOE’s training facility.

Moving forward, our long-term goal is to implement more of a college application process rather than continue the traditional apprentice application process.  We are also seeking partnerships with the Vo-Tech system since most of the traditional high schools do not have programs that align as well with our goals and needs.

I am on the Board of Somerset County Vo-Tech and my daughter is a guidance counselor at Middlesex County Vo-Tech so we know the system fairly well. We wanted to provide students from Somerset’s Mechatronics, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing program (MEAM) an opportunity to learn about IUOE and visit our campus. In academic parlance, our program fits in the Advanced Manufacturing sector. I worked with the superintendent to secure a small grant for an Operating Engineer Awareness program at Somerset. We developed a curriculum to introduce the students interested in construction to the occupation of construction engineer, and transported the students to our campus to see and experience the equipment. We are also helping the district with OSHA training, and with welding, and are seeking other opportunities to work together. Ocean and Hunterdon Counties have Equipment Operator programs that are simulator-based but we have not yet received a lot of interest from them in working with us. East Brunswick Vo-Tech is very close to our campus and we have students visit from there as well.

Q. Through their on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, by focusing on training and recruitment programs aimed at women, minorities, and others. Do you have any thoughts about how NJDOT might pursue this goal?

NJDOT should consider implementing several model project labor agreements, collaborating with the different trades, with all participants making a concerted effort to increase the number of women and minorities on a project. The outcome of this effort could be presented as a showcase and best practice example statewide. It is important to recognize that when we set the hiring goals to include a certain percentage of women and minorities, we have to plan to engage in a collaborative effort with the successful bidding contractor to reach those goals. Rather than penalize a contractor if they experience challenges in achieving the diversity goals, we need to determine strategies for how to reach them and secure their buy-in to reach these diversity goals.

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: An Interview with the Office of Apprenticeship, NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL)

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for  work with emerging technologies. An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

We spoke with Nick Toth, Director, New Jersey Office of Apprenticeship, NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) to learn about the State’s role in funding, promoting, and providing technical assistance for on-the-job training programs, and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, to support all workers including women, minorities and other disadvantaged individuals seeking to enter highway construction and other related fields.

Background

Q.  Can you tell us a little bit about your role in the Office of Apprenticeship at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development?

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

NJDOL has six grant programs to promote workforce development in the State.

I am the director of the New Jersey Office of Apprenticeship in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. I was hired into this position to develop the first Office of Apprenticeship. In 2018, Governor Murphy announced the New Jersey Apprenticeship Network to invest in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs throughout the state. We developed a host of grant programs and have grown from a staff of one to twelve people. We currently oversee six grants, including two grant programs for the New Jersey Builders Utilization for Labor Diversity (NJ Build) Program that came under our umbrella in the past year. We provide $10-15 million in grants each year focused on supporting pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in varying employment sectors. The key tenet of our work is to build a stronger and fairer economy with greater equity, inclusion and diversity among participants. We also focus on removing the economic barriers that inhibit access to training.

Q. Our understanding is that NJDOL supports apprenticeship initiatives via grants but that the USDOL manages apprenticeship programs in the state. Is that accurate?

New Jersey operates as a federal state, with NJDOL providing technical assistance, funding, and marketing to support pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships. However, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) is the registrar for NJ apprenticeship programs. There is no registration process for pre-apprenticeship programs. We work closely with USDOL and we have an employer engagement unit that works closely with NJ employers.

Seal of the United States Department of Labor

The USDOL is the registrar for NJ apprenticeship programs.

Q. What is the difference between the NJDOL Office of Apprenticeship and the New Jersey Apprenticeship Network?

The New Jersey Apprenticeship Network is a broad initiative focused on building partnerships and developing relationships to provide employment opportunities for New Jerseyans in a wide array of sectors. The Apprenticeship Office is part of the Network. We partner with employers, whether they are grantees or not, and we partner with other organizations.

Q. NJDOT is focused on recruiting and retaining workers in the highway construction industry. Based on your experience, is there a lack of awareness – especially among women and minority persons – for jobs and careers in the highway construction industry?   If so, do you know of programs that are building awareness for opportunities in transportation?

In general, there is a lack of awareness of what apprenticeships are and the opportunities available to workers. There is also a communication gap, both statewide and nationwide, related to the skilled trades. There is no solid messaging or awareness about the economic benefits of pursuing a trade or following a non-college path. I have not seen a concerted public awareness effort directed to women and minorities. But there’s a real economic argument to be made for apprenticeship programs. If you go through a structured apprenticeship program, you will experience hands-on training and receive a paycheck throughout the program. Some of these programs are four years and you will exit without any student loans. It is vital to better communicate and increase awareness among employers and prospective employees that apprenticeships are very different from internships.

Q. Several commonly cited roadblocks to entry into the construction sector, particularly for women and minority candidates, include transportation issues and childcare.   What strategies could help to address these issues?

I can confirm that transportation and childcare are the two most common barriers that are at the front of the discussion. For most of our grants, including the GAINS, PACE, and NJ PLACE 2.0 grants, budgeting for supportive services includes transportation and childcare as permissible uses of funds. Where our Office has leverage is in how we prescribe the way state funds can be used; we try to incentivize applicants to include this support for program participants as part of their application.

Q. Does your Office play a role in helping to reduce barriers for women, minorities, and others in entering the highway construction trades?  Also, we saw on your website that NJDOL has posted a notice of grant opportunity (January 31, 2022) called, “Women and minority groups in construction trades program.” Can you please tell us about this grant opportunity?

NJ Build Program grants are available to contractors in the construction and building trades and provide access to women and minorities to training.

NJ Build Program grants are available to contractors in the construction and building trades and provide access to women and minorities to training.

This grant opportunity is a NJ BUILD Program effort that has been available for a decade. Unfortunately, we receive low response rates to these grants which seem to be “the best kept workforce development secret,” as it can be difficult to get the word out to contractors and construction companies that are open to diversifying their workforce.

Any state agency can also apply for this grant and it is specifically written to provide access for women and minorities to apprenticeships or pre-apprenticeship training. The NJ BUILD grants are limited to the construction and building trades because of the way they are funded. By statute, a fee is assessed on public works contracts with a value above $1 million and these funds must be used for training of women and minorities in the field that is paying into that fund.

Q. We have heard that pre-apprenticeship programs are growing in popularity across the country and that NJ has the Pre-Apprenticeship in Education (PACE) program. Can you tell us about PACE and if the program focuses at all on highway construction trades in NJ?  

What are essential elements of a pre-apprenticeship program to help women, minorities, and others enter an apprenticeship program?  Are there programs that offer a direct connection between pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs?

With all our apprenticeship grants – everything outside of NJ BUILD – there is no specific focus on highway construction, but highway construction would fall under the heading of infrastructure. We would love to fund a workforce development program for those jobs, considering the federal dollars that will be coming to the state from the new federal infrastructure bill.

It is important to link pre-apprenticeship programs with apprenticeship programs so you don’t lose people between these programs. For example, in order to be eligible for a PACE grant – which is focused on high growth sectors including infrastructure – you have to have one established partnership with a registered apprenticeship program. We provide placement metric requirements to track how many pre-apprenticeship participants move to the apprenticeship program. But we also offer two other “off-ramps,” since sometimes not all participants will be able to move on to the apprenticeship, for example, if you have trained 50 people but your partner can only take 15 into their program. If participants go on to a job, a post-secondary program or career training program at a higher level, we count that as a good outcome as well.

Q. Are you aware of any model practices currently among community-based organizations to support women, minority, and others looking at the construction trades?

I use healthcare as an example. We have made significant headway in the number of women participating in registered healthcare apprenticeships, which has doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent. Some programs are over 90 percent women, with many minority participants.

Preparing students for jobs in the skilled trades is a good strategy to provide employment opportunities for all.

Preparing students for jobs in the skilled trades is a good strategy to provide employment opportunities for all.

Generally, there is less interest among job seekers in the building trades. Thirty years ago, pursuing a career in construction would have been considered on par with going to college, but we have changed a lot as a country.

From a union perspective, it would be great to see a more concerted effort to diversify union membership. But I understand that when you target economically depressed communities, there are existing barriers that inhibit people from applying. The unions need a qualified applicant pool. So, focusing on pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships as a pipeline into the sector and building awareness among young adults in high school for careers in trade are valuable strategies. In addition, raising awareness for career opportunities in construction overall and to targeted audiences is also needed. High schools are not preparing students for jobs in the trades, but rather emphasize college placement, so there are structural issues contributing to the problem.

NJDOL Grant Initiatives

The Earn & Learn collaboration between HCCC and IUOE Local 825 is funded through a NJ Place 2.0 grant.

The Earn & Learn collaboration between HCCC and IUOE Local 825 is funded through a NJ Place 2.0 grant.

Q. The "Earn and Learn" program developed between the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 and Hudson County Community College (HCCC) is supported with a NJ PLACE 2.0 Degree Apprenticeship Program grant. Our understanding of this innovative program is that its aim is to integrate work-based learning with post-secondary education, allowing apprentices to earn college credits and an apprentice wage simultaneously.  Are both four-year and community colleges participating in this program?   Can grantees apply for continuing funding after their initial award is spent?

The genius of the NJ PLACE 2.0 grant program is that participants simultaneously earn course credit and a paycheck via this grant that incentivizes four-year and community colleges to collaborate with organizations that have a registered apprenticeship program. Participants pursue an Associate’s degree while being paid for on-the-job training.

If a grantee’s program is doing well, they could be eligible for additional funding. Ultimately, the goal of the Office is to distribute these grant dollars to applicants with promising initiatives designed to integrate work-based learning with post-secondary education.

Q. Another initiative that your Office oversees is the GAINS, or Growing Apprenticeships in Nontraditional Sectors, program. Our understanding is that GAINS is focused on training youth, adults, and incumbent workers by developing apprenticeship programs in a wide variety of in-demand fields. Is that accurate?  For how long have you been distributing these grants?

The GAINS program focuses on in-demand fields and the hiring of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups.

The GAINS program focuses on in-demand fields and the hiring of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups.

GAINS is our flagship grant program and the first one I worked on when I came into this job. As noted, it is focused on developing apprenticeship programs in fields that are in demand. We are in our fourth program year for this annual grant. We will soon announce a $3 million funding round and will probably have another round later in the fiscal year. We have had a good uptake in the program. This round we will fund apprenticeships in nursing residency, wastewater treatment, massage therapy, electrical, cybersecurity, and for machinists, home health aides, computer systems analysts, and ironworkers. We encourage all of our applicants to hire from diverse groups and our application evaluation criteria are based on inclusion of people of color, people with disabilities, women and veterans.

Q. How do you ensure compliance with these inclusion goals?

Registered apprenticeships are tracked through a national database. We require monthly reports from our grantees. The staff in the contracting unit validate the level of service.

Looking Ahead

Q. What strategies should be pursued to encourage more New Jerseyans to consider a career in the highway construction industry? Who should be leading or involved in those efforts?

Implementation of awareness campaigns, job fairs, rapid interviews, and events to learn about these careers can be effective. If NJDOT has openings, they can let NJDOL know. We can then reach out to the local One-Stops to request they send out an email blast statewide or to a particular geographic region alerting folks of these DOT job opportunities. We have done this for our grantees. If NJDOT has job openings, they can also advertise through the One-Stop Centers, and share eligibility requirements.

NJDOT should also engage in conversations with the contractors who are seeking workers for NJDOT contracts. The state has leverage in the contract requirements when contractors receive state dollars. Under a new law, which has been in effect the last two years, every contractor that has a public works certification, must participate in a registered apprenticeship program. In their procurement language, NJDOT can require the contractor to train their workers, or develop apprenticeships to pipeline people in, or partner with their local One-Stops, or include a local hire provision. Including these requirements can drive positive behavior among employers that can help to diversify the workforce.

Q. Through their on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, by focusing on training and recruitment programs aimed at women, minorities, and others. Do you have any thoughts about how NJDOT might pursue this goal?  How could NJDOT partner more closely with your Office?

We had productive conversations with NJDOT when I came on the job, and I discussed our apprenticeship grants with them. NJ BUILD was not in my purview at the time. Our NJ BUILD programs are tailor-made for NJDOT. Philosophically, our two departments are aligned in wanting to accomplish the goal of having a more diverse workforce. NJDOT should definitely consider applying for some of our available grants as they are eligible to do so and we can cover some of the operational costs associated with the grants in some cases, including staffing costs. There’s a lot of opportunity there and it could be a win-win for NJDOT.

"Our programs are tailor-made for NJDOT. Philosophically, our two departments are aligned in wanting to accomplish the goal of having a more diverse workforce."

My team and I love to get in front of groups of NJ employers to discuss our grant opportunities. We have lots of mutual goals for increasing successful job recruitment and the diversity of the labor supply, none of which can occur without conversations with the employers. I’d be happy to spend time discussing NJ BUILD opportunities with construction companies that are already contributing to the state through the public works contract fee and with NJDOT, to share how our Office can support the training and upscaling of their workforce.

 


Resources

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 6, Strategic Workforce Development. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/strategic_workforce_development.cfm

Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development. https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/workforce-development/index.html

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825. Earn and Learn Program. http://www.iuoe825.org/

NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, NJ PLACE 2.0 Grants. https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200131_njplace.shtml

NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Office of Apprenticeships. https://www.nj.gov/labor/career-services/apprenticeship/

NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, NJ Builders Utilization for Labor Diversity (NJBUILD),  Women and Minority Groups in Construction Trades.  Notice of Grant Opportunity, Fiscal Year 2022

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development in NJ: An Interview with Hudson County Community College

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce. 

We spoke with Lori Margolin, the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC) for her insights on workforce development and a new partnership between HCCC and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 that addresses the need to train individuals for today’s jobs in highway construction and operations.

 

Community Colleges, Programs and Partners

Q.  Can you tell us about your role with the college?

HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet their needs

HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet their needs

I am the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC). My department oversees all non-credit programs at the College. We provide educational programs in a wide variety of areas for community residents, training for unemployed and underemployed job seekers, and work directly with employers to provide basic skills and customized training to incumbent workers. We have partnerships with many diverse organizations and take an “entrepreneurial approach” to developing programs and partnerships which provide an alternate  pathway for students to obtain credentials and enter a degree program.

Q.  Before we delve into your new International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 program, please tell us, based on your experiences, if there is a lack of awareness among your student body – especially among women and minority students – for jobs/careers in the highway construction industry?

In general, students often lack awareness of careers in many sectors. I have no specific data to cite in highway construction however I am sure it holds true in this industry. Young people and prospective job seekers are not aware of the full-range of available opportunities and/or have false perceptions about jobs in these sectors. For example, they may erroneously assume no post-secondary degree or certification is needed or that they will work in a “dusty workshop” – neither of which may be true.

The construction industry is known, historically, as a white male-dominated industry that many do not associate as a sector offering opportunities for persons seeking a post-secondary degree; however, increasingly construction and heavy manufacturing are more automated and need workers with advanced technology skills. The IUOE Local 825 is a union that recognizes this need for workers who are vested with skills to work with new technologies.

For women, minorities, and people with disabilities to be attracted to and successfully retain positions in these fields, both role models and a welcoming work environment are vital. The industry has to examine its policies and practices from top to bottom to address issues of diversity.

Q.  Do you know of programs either at HCCC or elsewhere that are building awareness of career opportunities in the highway construction sector?

HCCC offers an Associate degree in Applied Science in Construction Management, which is part of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) division. The program has experienced double-digit enrollment growth due to factors including the recent November 2021 passage of the federal Infrastructure bill. Rowan University offers a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and there may be others.

NJ Pathways provides individuals with career opportunities and industry with a trained workforce

HCCC and Rowan College of South Jersey will be leading the Construction Center for Workforce Innovation as part of the NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities program, which is a joint initiative of the NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and the NJ Business and Industry Association. We are looking at expanding the pathways in construction, creating new partnerships with K-12 and 4-year colleges and universities, and expanding the dual education program to include additional partners. Whatever new curricula are developed via the initiative will be shared statewide.

Q.  Several commonly cited roadblocks to entry into the construction sector particularly for women and minority candidates include transportation issues and childcare. Have your students encountered these or other obstacles? Do you see a role for NJ community colleges in helping to reduce barriers for women and minorities in entering the highway construction trades?

Both transportation and childcare are obstacles to entry and retention in construction and other sectors. For example, if a person’s vehicle is not reliable, how are they going to access the job site? For some job seekers, the costs of child care can be a large proportion of their income.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges, as some job seekers are concerned with taking a job where they may be exposed to the virus and bring it home to older or immune-compromised family members. In some cases, prospective workers must care for family members impacted by COVID-19 and balance demands related to their children’s home school instruction. The number of female employees in many sectors has decreased since the onset of the pandemic because many of these familial responsibilities fall to women. Overall, these constraints are influencing the types of jobs candidates are pursuing.

I see a role for community colleges in helping to reduce barriers for women and minorities in entering highway construction and other sectors. Community colleges serve students from highly diverse backgrounds who bring a variety of experiences to their classes. Community colleges serve more first-generation, part-time, nontraditional age, low-income, minority, and female students than any other type of public higher education institution.  We focus on economic mobility and preparing students to launch successful careers and earn family-sustaining wages.

The pandemic has exacerbated issues that students and job seekers face, such as childcare and transportation. Many HCCC students have non-academic needs including food insecurity and face emergencies, such as car repair, that are beyond their financial means to resolve independently. To help address these issues, HCCC has expanded student supports, as the college considers itself part of the community it serves. The Hudson Helps program provides a food pantry, emergency grants, and has paid almost $5 million in outstanding debts for students during the pandemic.

While these issues are long-standing, if the community works together I believe we can effectively address them.

Q.   Your department partners closely with the business community, offering a variety of programs and resources to help meet their workforce needs. Do you also partner with any community-based organizations to support any of your apprenticeship or other programs? If yes, do any of these organizations specifically focus on supporting women and minorities in the workforc

There are many community-based organizations and programs that support students in preparing for careers. Several of our partners in Hudson County are Women Rising, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and Year Up. Year Up primarily works with minority and low-income students to introduce them to careers in business, finance, and technology, and they have an office on our campus. We partner with many others as well.

International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Program

Q.  With HCCC as a registered apprenticeship sponsor with USDOL, do you have apprenticeship programs in place focused on advanced manufacturing, healthcare and -- now with the IUOE Program -- operating engineering?

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

HCCC is a Registered Apprenticeship sponsor and currently has an advanced manufacturing employer, Eastern Millwork, and one hospitality employer, Skopos Hospitality. In addition we have agreements with many healthcare providers to train apprentices. We are a partner on an application for a culinary Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) training grants through the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL).

Many employers are hesitant to pursue apprenticeships because they do not understand what an apprenticeship entails, and the benefits that an apprenticeship could offer to both employers and participants. In fact, many confuse internships with apprenticeships, with one distinction among the two being that apprenticeship participants are hired as employees, although there are other differences as well.

We have an agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 to articulate up to 30 credits towards an Associate degree (60 credits).  Apprentices with IUOE Local 825 can pursue an Associate degree while completing the apprenticeship program.

Q.   Can you please outline the basics of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) program?

HCCC and the IUOE are training workers for the construction industry, including highway construction.

The IUOE program is technically an advanced manufacturing initiative that is supported by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant. This innovative program was established in November 2021 through an articulation agreement between HCCC and IUOE Local 825 and gives students the opportunity to be dually enrolled in the union apprenticeship program and HCCC, where they will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits.

Participants will earn 30 credits from on-the-job training and education provided by the union, and are scheduled to earn the other 30 credits from HCCC over five semesters. They will be attending part-time, taking two classes per semester and earning six credits per semester on average.

Q, What are the main goals for the IUOE program?

The main goals for the NJ PLACE 2.0 grant are promoting equality of opportunity, upward economic mobility, and economic fairness.

Q.  What makes the IUOE program particularly innovative?

The program is innovative and beneficial because it provides students with the unique, time-saving opportunity to pursue their journeyworker status simultaneously with earning their Associate degree. The program is designed so that students earn credit for experience outside the classroom, and college classes enhance what they are learning at work. There are no out of pocket expenses for the students since costs are covered by the grant and IUOE Local 825.

The IUOE has named the hybrid apprentice program “Earn and Learn”

The degree will  give students additional options and pathways.  Future operators will need to master heavy equipment and also understand and work with the technology behind it.

Q.  How is program implementation going so far? Approximately how many students are currently enrolled?

The program will start in the spring 2022 semester on January 21, 2022. Thirty students of diverse backgrounds from throughout the state were accepted for enrollment. The students had to commit to both components of the program, earning the Associate degree and to the apprenticeship program. Hundreds of prospective applicants applied in the first 20 minutes that the online application portal opened.

All HCCC instruction is virtual, although the orientation was held in-person on-campus. The virtual modality allows students who reside throughout the state to easily attend. The IUOE Local 825 members are trained in real-world facilities on the latest models of equipment, including those with the newest technology and GPS systems. The state-of-the-art training facility located in central New Jersey near Exit 8A of the NJ Turnpike, has a total area of nearly 60 acres, with more than 90 pieces of equipment, simulators and instrumentation.

IUOE members are trained in central NJ to work with heavy machinery on construction sites

IUOE members are trained in central NJ to work with heavy machinery on construction sites

Q.  What career paths and industries will program graduates typically pursue? Are construction jobs a focus of the program? Has there been any discussion about preparing workers in the highway construction trades?

Local 825 Operating Engineers are highly trained and experienced heavy equipment operators, mechanics, and surveyors who offer unsurpassed productivity to contractors throughout New Jersey and five counties in New York’s Hudson Valley

Q.  We read that the IUOE program is one of two in the state. Are you aware of the other program?

HCCC is the only community college in New Jersey offering this program. Thomas Edison State University is another institution with a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant.

Q.  Do you see this as an ongoing program or dependent on grant funding that might not be forthcoming in future years?

Currently, the grant covers half the tuition and fees for students and the union covers the remaining portion. Both HCCC and the IUOE Local 825 are committed to the program. Our interests and missions align and I see the program continuing. The program itself enables students to train with and learn current technology, and improves readiness for current and future career pathways.

Looking Ahead

Q. What strategies should be pursued to encourage more NJ community college students to consider a career in the construction industry? Who should be leading or involved in those efforts?

Increasing awareness of the career pathways available in the construction industry would be helpful in encouraging more NJ community college students to consider this option. New Jersey's Community Colleges and New Jersey Business and Industry Association are leading a collaborative effort to address the rapidly changing needs of employers and providing students and workers with the career pathways they need to be successful.  As a key component of this coordinated workforce preparation effort, the NJ Council of County Colleges has launched 10 Centers of Workforce Innovation specifically focused on building pathways to serve the learning lifespan of students and workers. The Centers are clustered in four industries, Healthcare, Technology and Innovation, Infrastructure and Energy, and Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.  HCCC is the administrative lead on the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation (part of the Infrastructure industry) and is partnered with Rowan College of South Jersey. There was a statewide convening on January 19th to kick off the planning phase of the work.

Q.  Through their on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, by focusing on training and recruitment programs aimed at women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations. Do you have any thoughts about how NJDOT might pursue this goal?

New Jersey’s 18 community colleges serve over 300,000 people in non-credit, credit, and workforce development courses

NJDOT Human Resources staff and/or senior leadership should partner with NJ’s community colleges so we can familiarize NJDOT with opportunities to align in-demand skills for degree programs and develop customized non-credit programs and training for their workforce. Community colleges can uptrain or re-train the NJDOT workforce to succeed in new or revamped roles. HCCC and other community colleges can also work with NJDOT to help the department achieve increased workforce representation among females and minorities. NJDOT can engage in conversations with educators and let us know what skills the NJDOT workforce needs so that we can help address skill gaps. There are 18 community colleges in the state; NJDOT could opt to reach out to the NJ Council of County Colleges to start the conversation.

NJDOT workers and others may want to consider taking advantage of the Community College Opportunity Grant initiative. New Jersey students enrolled in any one of the State’s 18 county colleges may be eligible for tuition-free college. Students who are enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester and who have an adjusted gross income of $0-$65,000 will be considered for this state grant.

 

Resources

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 6, Strategic Workforce Development. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/strategic_workforce_development.cfm

Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development. https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/workforce-development/index.html

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825.  http://www.iuoe825.org/

NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development. https://njworkforce.org

NJ Department of Labor, NJ PLACE 2.0 Grants. https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200131_njplace.shtml

NJ Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships. https://www.nj.gov/labor/career-services/apprenticeship/

NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities. https://njpathways.org/centers-of-workforce-innovation/

 

Innovation Spotlight: Testing and Deploying ITS Solutions for Safer Mobility and Operations

NJDOT’s Transportation Mobility unit is working on several initiatives related to FHWA Every Day Counts innovative initiatives, including: Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations (EDC-4, EDC-6), Next Generation Traffic Incident Management (EDC-4, EDC-6), and Weather Responsive Management Strategies (EDC-4, EDC-5).  The unit has been creatively deploying STIC Incentive Grants and Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) grants to pilot test and evaluate innovations in recent years. We spoke with Sue Catlett, Project Manager in the Mobility Research Group, to provide updates on this work and discuss the coordination needed between agencies, organizations, and industry to make progress on these initiatives, and the barriers to deployment.

The Waycare crowdsourcing platform will feed information to NJDOT’s traffic operations centers to help resolve traffic issues and improve safety.

Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations

Q.  Can you give us an update on the STIC incentive grant and the pilot of the Waycare crowdsourced data platform?

Waycare is in the DOT’s procurement process.  Once we have access to the information, the pilot will begin. We hope to see an increased situational awareness of the roadways.

Q.  Once it is deployed, will you have data coming in immediately?

We anticipate that we will have data but we will need to evaluate what that data means to us. For example, a key consideration is the definition of terms such as “crash incident,” and “accident.” We need to determine if we accept what the system’s definition of a term is or if we can set a definition.

Once the Waycare system is operating, NJDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Resource Center (ITSRC), housed at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), will be working with NJDOT on the evaluation of the information coming in and matching it up with other information that DOT is utilizing.

Next Generation Traffic Incident Management

Q.  Can you update us on the deployment of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) integration with the State Police?  At the 3rd Quarter STIC meeting in September 2021, you mentioned that the State Police had deployed their CAD system and are still doing some fine-tuning.

The State Police deployed their system at the end of June and are continuing to make adjustments to the system and train staff in its use. They will be building out the system by adding modules. We are working with the State Police to determine how we will have access to the information gathered and we are working towards an agreement.

Q.  Traffic Incident Management must require coordination with numerous organizations, yes?

The Department promotes the safety of traffic incident first responders through their Move Over campaign.

Yes, in fact, we just had our statewide Traffic Incident Management (TIM) meeting today where we reported out on what we have been working on, what we will be doing in the next six months, and what help we will need from others. The various participating groups also report out. TIM involves coordination with first aid, EMS, the State Police, the MPOs, municipal fire departments, the Department of Health, and many others. We have been working on the Move Over bumper sticker campaign, and the National Crash Responder Safety Week was in November, so there are a lot of initiatives that we are working on through the year with a purpose of reducing time an incident is on a roadway and keeping first responders safe while responding to an incident.

Q.  Has there been any progress on establishing an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) platform or core software? What are the steps involved? What are you ultimately looking for with this platform?

In our operations centers, we gather data from many systems such as highway cameras, and travel times, as well as other information. The ATMS platform would combine these multiple platforms into one so that NJDOT operators can look in one place for all the information collected. The State Police CAD data could be included in this core software system.

We want one platform for our existing systems and we are also looking towards what we will need in the future. We worked with an engineering consultant firm to determine required elements, desired elements, and future needs. We were looking for a vendor that has a system that was already built and could then be customized to meet the Department’s needs. Any system would need to work with systems that DOT is currently using. We consulted with NJDOT Safety Service Patrol (SSP) and electrical maintenance, among others, to see what future needs they could anticipate. We wanted to cast a wide enough net to avoid missing something that other groups can anticipate now that they would need later on. We also talked to other state DOTs to receive feedback about their systems.  The pandemic slowed progress on this effort and we have not contracted with a vendor yet.

It is anticipated that the platform will be built out through the addition of modular components. This makes it difficult to predict when the platform will be ready to use.

Weather Responsive Management Systems (WRMS)

Q.  Congratulations on receiving the ITS-NJ 2021 Outstanding Project Award for the Weather Savvy Roads project. What is happening with the project?

The Weather Savvy Roads project was a collaboration with many individuals and organizations.  The project has expanded to 23, and soon to be 24, equipped vehicles. Equipped trucks include six Safety Service Patrol vehicles (3 north, 3 south) which operate 24/7, two incident management response (IMRT) trucks which can respond to incidents at any time (1 north, 1 south), and Operations vehicles including 7 snow plow vehicles (3 north, 2 central, 2 south) and pickup trucks used by supervisors who can respond where needed. We are still working on modifications and analysis of the data we have received.

Weather Savvy instrumentation displays atmospheric conditions and a dashboard view of road conditions in real time.

The Mobile Road Weather Information System (MRWIS) provides information on ambient temperature, road temperature, road condition and grip, as well as a windshield view of road conditions. Management can see what the drivers are seeing. The information helps to assess a storm’s duration and intensity while it is ongoing. The data available through the system has helped management make decisions. For example, last winter a Director referred to the system to determine how much longer crews  would need to be out on the road based on conditions, and could predict another two hours commitment.

WRMS can also assist in traffic incident management. Video of an incident, captured by an NJDOT responder truck, provides much more information than a verbal description of an incident scene. The detail can help ensure that individuals in the field can get the appropriate support and get the road back open more quickly.

NJDOT has extended the pilot deadline to June 2022 to include a second winter using the WRMS. This expansion will allow us to test the system on a potentially wider range of weather conditions, and assess the durability of the equipment. Last winter, NJIT analyzed the information we were collecting and found an issue with the data being reported. The vendor had to change their manufacturing process to address condensation issues and we installed replacement sensors.

Q.  What do you anticipate being the next steps?

We are exploring how to bring this system inside the Department. Currently, the Weather Savvy website is hosted by the ITSRC at NJIT.

Other Innovative Initiatives Underway through Research or Other Activities

Q.  Are there non-EDC innovations being undertaken at NJDOT or elsewhere in NJ that should be highlighted to STIC partners? 

Drivewyze® is a phone app that is used to inform truck drivers of upcoming weigh stations, enabling drive-by of weigh stations, and provides in-cab alerts about slowdowns or other road issues. The Department could use the system to alert truckers to specific conditions, such as truck restrictions on snow-covered roadways before they enter the State, to allow truckers to make adjustments. NJDOT is trying the system out for a year to look at the value of the information and what impact it may have.

We are also using video analytics to look at truck parking in the Harding Truck Rest Area during winter storms. Both commercial trucks and Safety Service Patrol vehicles use this rest area, and the space can become overly full and entrances and exits can be blocked. SSP vehicles need to be able to get into and out of the area to respond to incidents and for shift changes. We installed devices in the parking stalls, which provide information indicating when they are occupied, and cameras identify when trucks are parked in non-marked parking spaces. From the data collected, we hope to determine prime times for usage, and we are trying to find a way to communicate with truckers. NJIT is conducting this study through the ITSRC.


Resources

More Information on the STIC initiatives highlighted in this interview is available using the following links:

Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations - https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2021/01/01/crowdsourcing-for-advancing-operations/

Next Generation TIM - https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2021/04/19/next-generation-tim/

Weather Responsive Management Strategies - https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/weather-responsive-management-strategies/

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development in NJ: An Interview with the Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies.  An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey (ACCNJ) is a construction trade association representing union construction companies, including highway, bridge, and vertical construction in the tri-state area and beyond, representing both small and larger companies. ACCNJ’s mission is to raise the standard of construction in New Jersey by providing a diverse array of training and educational programs and information for their membership. We spoke with Jill Schiff (Executive Director, Operations) and Darlene Regina (COO) to hear their perspective on pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in New Jersey. 

ACCNJ provides education and training for member union construction companies.

ACCNJ provides education and training for member union construction companies.

 

Q. Is there a lack of awareness among women and minorities of jobs in the construction industry? Do you know of programs that are building awareness of opportunities in transportation?

People understand what construction is and that it is a necessity. They see a plumber or electrician working on their home, an addition going up on the neighborhood school or a group of craftworkers in a work zone widening a highway.  Being able to break down what they already know and being able to show them how many opportunities exist in the industry is where we need to meet them.

Union construction trades are progressive in attracting qualified applicants.  In addition to traditional avenues, they work with community groups, government entities, and school districts as a way to share information about their programs.  All construction trades do conduct outreach to women and minorities, as unions are open to all and labor management cooperatives work on increasing diversity.

The industry makes an effort to actively promote construction career opportunities through a variety of paths, individually and collectively. For example, the EAS Regional Council of Carpenters has a “Career Connections” program for high school students and “CARP” for women and minorities. Union jobs offer competitive pay and benefits, continuous training opportunities, and access to technology. Three- to five-year union construction apprenticeship programs are rewarding and valuable as they prepare participants for successful careers. Apprentices are learning skills while simultaneously earning a salary. There are nominal up-front fees for apprenticeships, such as union dues and/or application fees. Applicants are also required to hold a high school diploma or GED, a driver’s license, be drug-free, and be able to read for information and have math competency.

The annual Construction Industry Career Day offers information and hands-on learning to high school students.

On the collective side, ACCNJ oversees a Construction Industry Career Day, a two-day event for high school students, supported by the unions, various trade associations, and government agencies. The event started in 2001 and attracts about 3,000 people each year.  We advertise the event to every high school in the state, general, private and vo-tech. The event offers hands-on skills learning for different occupations in the field and students are able to talk to current apprentices. Parents and guardians are encouraged to join us so they can become aware of the diverse construction career paths. The next event is scheduled for May 31st and June 1st in 2022.

This NJ DOL program assists high school juniors and seniors to transition to high-skill, high-wage employment.

This NJ DOL program assists high school juniors and seniors to transition to high-skill, high-wage employment.

The New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council, which coordinates activity and provides resources to 15 affiliated trades unions in the construction industry, is involved in the New Jersey Youth Transitions to Work Program, a state-funded program promoting work-based learning and the establishment of linkages among secondary schools, post-secondary and registered apprenticeships. They also support the Helmets to Hardhats program designed to help transitioning military personnel pursue careers in the building and construction industry.

 

Q. What are the principal challenges for women and minorities to enter apprenticeship programs and the construction industry? 

This program helps veterans and other service people transition to career and training opportunities in the construction industry.

This program helps veterans and other service people transition to career and training opportunities in the construction industry.

The main challenges for women and minorities entering the field often relate to transportation and childcare. Reliable childcare is an especially significant barrier for female candidates.

Some individuals do not hold a valid driver’s license or have access to a vehicle, making it difficult or impossible to access job sites located far from their homes or in areas outside central cities where public transportation is limited.

New Jersey is a US Department of Labor (USDOL) apprenticeship state. Apprenticeship programs are audited by the US DOL annually and have to demonstrate certain percentages of women and minority members.

 

Q. You have worked with Sisters in the Brotherhood. It sounds like a successful program. Can you tell us about this?

Part of the Carpenters Union, Sisters in the Brotherhood provides advocacy and skills training for women.

Part of the Carpenters Union, Sisters in the Brotherhood provides advocacy and skills training for women.

Sisters in the Brotherhood is an international program supporting female members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.  They advocate for issues women face in the industry, teach educational leadership skills, and offer mentoring to retain and elevate women in the local unions.  The focus on fostering a kinship among female members and hold events to enable social interactions.

Sisters in the Brotherhood does have a role in apprenticeships, which varies by local area. Pre-COVID, they had a very successful 12-week course that focused on upgrading math skills and the ability to read for information, and on physical strength training which is necessary in the construction field.

 

Q. Can you tell us about the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) program that has similar supports?

LIUNA members work on highway construction projects.

LIUNA members work on highway construction projects.

LIUNA is one of the more diverse unions in the state. They offer membership affinity groups for networking, mentorship, and engagement to promote individual and professional development. They convene a woman’s caucus, an African American caucus, and a Latino caucus, and possibly others.

 

Q. Would you say there are any model practices currently among community-based organizations to support women and minority individuals looking at the construction trades?

Community-based organizations such as the Newark Alliance, Urban League in Essex County, Urban League of Camden County and the Edison Job Corps Center in Middlesex County teach skills, including soft skills, to help make individuals more employable and independent. These organizations are an important support to the trades in attracting women and minorities to the profession.

 

Q. What types of construction pre-apprenticeship programs are there in NJ?

Pre-apprenticeship programs are becoming more prevalent in New Jersey. These programs are valuable because they focus on preparing participants with the soft skills needed to succeed in the construction trades. Participants who complete pre-apprenticeship programs are still required to apply for apprenticeship programs.

For example, the Bricklayers have a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program. Laborers also had a pre-apprenticeship program in Jersey City but it was directed more to building laborers.

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

 

Q. Do you have any insights into the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) apprenticeship programs, and the legislation behind them? Are any of the programs relevant to the highway construction trades?

Remember that NJDOL does not implement apprenticeships; however, they do have an Office of Apprenticeship that assists organizations with apprenticeships via grants and other opportunities.

As we said, pre-apprenticeship programs are becoming more common in the state. The NJ Office of Apprenticeship is offering funding to support these initiatives through their Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS) and Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) programs.

 

 

 


Resources

Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey
https://accnj.org/

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 6, Strategic Workforce Development
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/strategic_workforce_development.cfm

Laborers International Union of North America
https://www.liuna.org/

New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council
http://www.njbctc.org/

NJ Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships
https://www.nj.gov/labor/career-services/apprenticeship/

Sisters in the Brotherhood
https://www.carpenters.org/sisters-in-the-brotherhood/

Stronger, More Resilient Bridges: Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair is a model innovation in the latest round of the FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program (EDC-6).  UHPC is recognized as an innovative new material that can be used to extend the life of bridges. Its enhanced strength reduces the need for repairs, adding to the service life of a facility.   

This Q&A article has been prepared following correspondence with Pranav Lathia, an NJDOT Supervising Engineer, Structural & RR Engineering Services, to learn more about current initiatives to test and deploy UHPC on the Garden State’s bridges. The Q&A correspondence has been edited for clarity.

 

Q. What is Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), and why is it particularly useful for bridge preservation and repair (P&R)?

Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) is a new class of concrete which contains extraordinary properties of durability and strength. UHPC is a cement based composite material, which consists of steel fiber reinforcement, cement, fine sand, and other admixtures. UHPC is a useful alternative for bridge repairs and preservation due to its long-term durability, which will minimize repairs to a specific structure over time.

Q. Why, in some cases, is UHPC a better application than traditional treatments?

Due to its chemical properties UHPC has a compressive strength of seven times that of regular concrete. Therefore, UHPC is mostly used for thin overlays, closure pours, link slabs, beam end repairs and joint headers.

Q. What are some advantages of UHPC?

UHPC overlays appear to have many ideal properties for desk surface, including superior bond strength, compressive strength, lower permeability, greater freeze-thaw damage resistance, good abrasion resistance, and rapid cure times, among others.

Q. What are some disadvantages to UHPC?

There are some disadvantages to UHPC.  UHPC has higher material costs which has to be a factor in the Department's decision process. A life-cycle cost analysis is appropriate for making a determination of whether it is a cost-effective alternative for the Department.  Fresh UHPC does not bond well to hardened UHPC, therefore careful consideration for joint construction is needed, including reinforced staging joints. There is also limited test data for construction materials to determine their ability to perform well with UHPC. In addition, the NJ construction workforce is not very familiar with the use of UHPC as an overlay.

Image of a red rectangular device that works to smooth the UHPC,

Figure 1: It is imperative that contractors establish the proper amount of UHPC fluidity to maintain the bridge deck’s grade. Courtesy of NJDOT.

Q. When is UHPC perhaps not an appropriate solution?

UHPC would not be an appropriate solution for a full deck replacement, superstructure replacement, or total replacement.

Q. What are some examples of UHPC’s previous implementations?

Before our initiation of a pilot program, UHPC had only been used for ABC (closure pours) and pre-cast connections in New Jersey since 2014.

 Q. How is NJDOT approaching the potential implementation of UHPC for bridge preservation and replacement (P&R)?

Currently NJDOT uses UHPC ABC (closure pours) for prefabricated superstructures. NJDOT has launched and implemented a UHPC Overlay Research Project in conjunction with the design engineering firm, WSP Solutions.

Q. Can you describe the how UHPC is applied in the pilot project for P&R?

In the pilot project, a 1.5” UHPC overlay has been applied to four NJDOT structures. The UHPC overlay was constructed on the bridge deck along with the reconstruction of deteriorated deck joints.

Q. What bridges were selected, and what was the rationale for their selection?

Four structures were chosen for the UHPC overlay pilot program and split into two separate contracts, Contract A (North) and Contract B (South):

  • I-295 NB & US 130 NB over Mantua Creek in West Deptford, Gloucester County
  • NJ 57 over Hances Brook in Mansfield, Warren County
  • I-280 WB over Newark Turnpike in Kearny, Hudson County
  • NJ 159 WB over Passaic River in Montville, Morris County

The selected bridges for the pilot program were in good condition to leverage the perceived long life-span of UHPC and not allow other factors to limit the potential service life. Eight candidate structures were fully evaluated and tested before the four structures were advanced. The bridges that were ultimately selected varied in their age, size and design. All the bridges had asphalt overlay.

Q. What were the evaluation criteria used for the selection of the pilots?

All structures included in the program were evaluated for suitability based on the structural evaluations, chloride content within the deck, feasible construction stages, traffic analysis results, and existing overlay depths. Chloride content was obtained from the concrete cores we had completed on each bridge deck.

Q. What best practices were learned from the pilot projects?

It was best to install the UHPC overlays in locations that UHPC would serve as the final riding surface. The Department felt that an UHPC overlay should be constructed on structures which had an existing asphalt overlay. A thinner overlay could have been provided to cut material costs. Using a pan mixer, the supplier had the ability to control the fluidity of the UHPC, which is extremely important when dealing with extreme temperatures and high deflection/ movement structures. A flow test should continue to be required to verify the proper mixing and consistency of the UHPC overlay material.

Q. Were there any innovations from the implementation of the pilot projects?

A deeper overlay could be considered as a viable alternative for structures that need major deck rehabilitation or replacement.

A bridge with a plastic cover at night, waiting for the UHPC to cure

Figure 2. An NJDOT UHPC treatment in the process of curing. Courtesy of NJDOT.

Q. How is data from the pilots being used to research further UHPC applications?

The data from the pilot program will be used to further the Department’s investigation in UHPC for applications other than just bridge deck overlays.

Q.  What can be done to prepare industry and the workforce for UHPC as an overlay?

The implementation of UHPC affects the current workforce because it is a new material to be used in New Jersey. The current workforce does not have enough experience with UHPC’s properties which could make a repair more challenging.  UHPC has only been used for closure pours in New Jersey. This knowledge gap could be solved by supplying the workforce with workshops, seminars, and suggested construction sequences, practices and equipment. A test slab should also be constructed to verify the proposed material and the contractor’s procedures.

Q. Are there needed actions to better educate NJDOT staff on its efficacy and potential uses?

Yes, training and peer exchange activities are valuable for further educating NJDOT staff on UHPC. Recently, we participated in a a two-day UHPC workshop (October 2021) with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The workshop provided participants with a greater understanding of what UHPC is, and explored solutions for using UHPC for bridge deck overlays, link slabs, and steel girder end repairs. Participants were given information on where to obtain guidance for implementing different types of UHPC preservation and repair strategies. The workshop also provided participants with the opportunity to discuss their UHPC implementation strategy, construction specifications, and design details with FHWA EDC-6 UHPC team members.

Image of a bridge with a new white smooth UHPC application on top.

Figure 3. The final product, a UHPC overlay before asphalt paving. Courtesy of NJDOT.

Q. What does the future of UHPC look like in New Jersey?

The future of UHPC in New Jersey could consist of UHPC connection repairs, seismic retrofits, column repairs, concrete patching, shotcrete, steel girder strengthening, bridge deck overlays, and link slabs.

Q. In the current EDC-6 Round, the NJ STIC states that it is planning on performing an assessment of the UHPC pilot projects. When they are complete, how will they be assessed? Could you tell us more about the long-term testing program being developed to gather performance data in the assessment phase?

These are still works in progress. A long-term monitoring and testing program is being developed to gather performance data in the assessment phase. The scope of our current efforts includes further investigation and research, collection and evaluation of performance data, updating the standard specifications and conducting a life cycle cost analysis.

Q. Can you describe the objective(s) and/or provide any other status information about the long-term program goals?

A long-term goal for the department is to incorporate UHPC into our design manual, including for P&R.Eventually we could see UHPC incorporated with bridge deck overlays and concrete bridge repairs. There is currently no timeline on incorporating UHPC into the design manual. We anticipate revising the standard specifications, but there are no updates regarding the revision of the standard specifications for UHPC.


Resources

Federal Highway Administration. (2019, February). Design and Construction of Field-Cast UHPC Connections. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/structures/bridge/uhpc/19011/index.cfm

Federal Highway Administration. (2020, November). Eliminating Bridge Joints with Link Slabs—An Overview of State Practices. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/preservation/docs/hif20062.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, April). Example Construction Checklist: UHPC Connections for Prefabricated Bridge Elements. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/abc/docs/uhpc-construction-checklist.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, March). Properties and Behavior of UHPC-Class Materials. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/structures/bridge/18036/18036.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, February) Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Deck Overlays. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/bridge/17097/index.cfm

Mendenhall, Jess and Rabie, Samer. (2021, October 20). UHPC Overlays for Bridge Preservation—Lessons Learned. New Jersey Department of Transportation. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NJDOT-UHPC-Overlay-Research-Project-EDC-6-Workshop.pdf

New Jersey Department of Transportation. (2021, October 20). NJDOT Workshop Report. New Jersey Department of Transportation. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NJDOT-UHPC-Workshop-Final-Report.pdf

New Mexico Department of Transportation. (2010). Feasibility Analysis of Ultra High Performance Concrete for Prestressed Concrete Bridge Applications. New Mexico Department of Transportation. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/24640

New York State Department of Transportation. (2021, June). Item 557. 6601NN16 – Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC). New York State Department of Transportation. https://www.dot.ny.gov/spec-repository-us/557.66010116.pdf

From left to right, image of a camera on a traffic pole, AI computer vision vehicle traveling paths, and AI identifying cars on an interstate, using colored boxes

How Automated Video Analytics Can Make NJ’s Transportation Network Safer and More Efficient

Computer vision is an emerging technology in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) reads and interprets images or videos, and then provides that data to decision makers. For the transportation field, computer vision has broad implications, streamlining many tasks that are currently performed by staff. By automating monitoring procedures, transportation agencies can gain access to improved, real-time incident data, as well as new metrics on traffic and “near-misses,” which contribute to making more informed safety decisions.

To learn more about the how computer vision technology is being applied in the transportation sector, three researchers working on related projects were interviewed: Dr. Chengjun Liu, working on Smart Traffic Video Analytics and Edge Computing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; Dr. Mohammad Jalayer, developing an AI-based Surrogate Safety Measure for intersections at Rowan University, and Asim Zaman, PE, currently researching how computer vision can improve safety for railroads. All researchers expressed that this technology is imminent, effective, and will affect staffing needs and roles at transportation agencies.   

A summary of these interviews is presented below.

 

Smart Traffic Video Analytics (STVA) and Edge Computing (EC) – Dr. Chengjun Liu, Professor, Department of Computer Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Dr. Chengjun Liu is a professor of computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he leads the Face Recognition and Video Processing Lab. In 2016, NJDOT and the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a three and-a-half year research project The project led to the development of several promising tools, including a Smart Traffic Video Analysis (STVA) system that automatically counts traffic volume, and detects crashes, traffic, slowdowns, wrong-way drivers, and pedestrians, and is able to classify different types of vehicles.

“There are a number of core technologies involved in these smart traffic analytics.” Dr. Liu said. “In particular, advanced video analytics. Here we also use edge computing because it can be deployed in the field. We also apply some deep learning methods to analyze the video.”

Video image of interstate highway with bidirectional traffic and AI identifying vehicles using green and red boxes

Figure 1. A video feed shows the AI identifying passing vehicles on I-280 in real-time. Courtesy of Innovative AI Technologies.

To test this technology, Dr. Liu’s team developed prototypes to monitor traffic in a real-world setting. The prototype consists of Video Analytics (VA)  software, and Edge Computing (EC) components. EC is a computing strategy that seeks to reduce data transmission and response times by distributing computational units, often in the field. In this case, VA and EC systems, consisting of a wired camera with a small computer attached, were placed to overlook segments of both Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and I-280 in Newark. Footage shows the device detecting passing cars, counting and classifying vehicles as they enter a designated zone. Existing automated technologies for traffic counting had something in the realm of a 20 to 30 percent error rate, while Dr. Liu reported error rates between 2 and 5 percent.

Additional real-time roadway footage from NJDOT shows several instances of the device flagging aberrant vehicular behavior. On I-280, the system flags a black car stopped on the shoulder with a red box. On another stretch of highway, a car that has turned left on a one-way is identified and demarcated. The same technology, being used for traffic monitoring video in Korea, immediately locates and highlights a white car that careens into a barrier and flips. Similar examples are given for congestion and pedestrians.

“This can be used for accident detection, and traffic vehicle classification, where incidents are detected automatically and in real time. This can be used in various illumination conditions like nighttime, or weather conditions like snowing, raining, and so forth.” Dr. Liu said.

According to Dr. Liu, video monitoring at NJDOT is being outsourced, and it might take days, or even weeks, to review and receive data. Staff monitor operations via video monitors from NJDOT facilities, where, due to human capacity constraints, some incidents and abnormal driving behavior go unnoticed. Like many tools using computer vision, the STVA system can provide live metrics, allowing for more effective monitoring than is humanly possible and accelerating emergency responder dispatch times.

STVA, by automating some manned tasks, would change workplace needs in a transportation agency. Rather than requiring people to closely monitor traffic and then make decisions, use of this new technology would require staff capable of working with the software, troubleshooting its performance, and interpreting the data provided for safety, engineering, and planning decisions.

Dr. Liu was keen to see his technology in use, expressing how the private sector was already deploying it in a variety of contexts. In his view, it was imperative that STVA be implemented to improve traffic monitoring operations. “There is a potential of saving lives,” Dr. Liu said.

 

Safety Analysis Tool - Dr. Mohammad Jalayer, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rowan University

Dr. Mohammad Jalayer, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rowan University, has been researching the application of computer vision to improving safety at intersections. While Dr. Liu’s STVA technology might focus more heavily on real-time applications, Dr. Jalayer’s research looks to use AI-based video analytics to understand and quantify how traffic functions at certain intersections and, based on that analysis, provide data for safety changes.

Traditionally, Dr. Jalayer said, safety assessments are reactive, “meaning that we need to wait for crashes to happen. Usually, we analyze crashes for three years, or five years, and then figure out what’s going on.” Often, these crash records can be inaccurate, or incomplete. Instead, Dr. Jalayer and his team are looking to develop proactive approaches. “Rather than just waiting for a crash, we wanted to do an advanced analysis to make sure that we prevent the crashes.”

Because 40 percent of traffic incidents occur at intersections, many of them high-profile crashes, the researchers chose to focus on intersection safety. For this, they developed the Safety Analysis Tool.

Image of an intersection with overlays of different colors, showing vehicle paths as they drive past, demonstrating different travel paths

Figure 2. The Surrogate Safety Analysis in action, using user behavior to determine recurring hazards at intersections. Courtesy of Dr. Jalayer.

The Surrogate Safety Measure analyzes conflicts and near-misses. The implementation of a tool like the Surrogate Safety Measure will help staff to make more informed safety decisions for the state’s intersections. The AI-based tool uses a deep learning algorithm to look at many different factors: left-turn lanes, traffic direction, traffic count, vehicle type, and can differentiate and count pedestrians and bicycles as well.

The Safety Analysis Tool’s Surrogate Safety Measure contains two important indicators: Time To Collision (TTC), and Post-Encroachment Time (PET). These are measures of how long it would take two road users to collide, unless further action is taken (TTC), and the amount of time between vehicles crossing the same point (PET), which is also an effective indicator of high-conflict areas.

In practice, these metrics would register, for example, a series of red-light violations, or people repeatedly crossing the street when they should not. Over time, particularly hazardous areas of intersections can be identified, even if an incident has not yet occurred. According to Dr. Jalayer, FHWA and other traffic safety stakeholders have already begun to integrate TTC and PET into their safety analysis toolsets.

Additionally, the AI-based tool can log data that is currently unavailable for roadways. For example, it can generate accurate traffic volume reports, which, Dr. Jalayer said, are often difficult to find. As bicycle and pedestrian data is typically not available, data gathered from this tool would significantly improve the level of knowledge about user behavior for an intersection, allowing for more effective treatments..

In practice, after the Safety Analysis Tool is applied, DOT stakeholders can decide which treatment to implement. For example, Jalayer said, if the analysis finds a lot of conflict with left turns at the intersection, then perhaps the road geometry could be changed. In the case of right-turn conflicts, a treatment could look at eliminating right turns on red. Then, Jalayer said, there are longer-term strategies, such as public education campaigns.

Image of Safety Analysis Tool interactive box with parts that read Analysis and Video, with Results, such as Vehicle Red Light Violation

Figure 3. The Safety Analysis tool user interface, which can run various analyses of traffic video, such as vehicle violations, or pedestrian volume. Courtesy of Dr. Jalayer.

For the first phase of the project, the researchers deployed their technology at two intersections in East Rutherford, near the American Dream Mall. For the current second phase, they are collecting data at ten intersections across the state, including locations near Rowan and Rutgers universities.

Currently, this type of traffic safety analysis is handled in a personnel-intensive way, with a human physically present studying an intersection. But with the Surrogate Safety tool, the process will become much more efficient and comprehensive. The data collected  will be less subject to human error, as it is not presently possible for staff to perfectly monitor every camera feed at all times of day.

This technology circumvents the need for additional staff, removing the need for in-person field visits or footage monitoring. Instead of staff with the advanced technical expertise to analyze an intersection’s safety in the field, state agencies will require personnel proficient in maintaining the automated equipment.

Many state traffic intersections are already equipped with cameras, but the data is not currently being analyzed using computer vision methods. With much of the infrastructure already present, Dr. Jalayer said that the next step would be to feed this video data into their software for analysis. There are private companies already using similar computer-vision based tools. “I believe this is a very emerging technology, and you're seeing more and more within the U.S.,” Dr. Jalayer said. He expects the tool to be launched by early 2022. The structure itself is already built, but the user interface is still under development. “We are almost there.” Dr. Jalayer said.

 

AI-Based Video Analytics for Railroad Safety – Asim Zaman, PE, Project Engineer, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning and Transportation research, Rutgers University

Asim Zaman, a project engineer at Rutgers, shared information on an ongoing research project examining the use of computer analytics for the purpose of improving safety on and around railways. The rail safety research is led by Dr. Xiang Liu, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rutgers Engineering School, and involves training AI to detect  trespassers on the tracks, a persistent problem that often results in loss of life and serious service disruptions. “Ninety percent of all the deaths in the railroad industry come from trespassing or happen at grade crossings,” Zaman said.

The genesis of the project came from Dr. Liu hypothesizing that, “There's probably events that happen that we don't see, and there's nothing recorded about, but they might tell the full story.” Thus, the research team began to inquire into how computer vision analysis might inform targeted interventions that improve railway safety.

Figure showing three vehicles driving over railroad tracks, with color overlays showing that they are detected by the AI

Figure 4. The color overlay of vehicles trespassing on railways demonstrates that the AI has successfully detected them. Courtesy of Zaman, Ren, and Liu.

Initially, the researchers gathered some sample video, a few days' worth of footage along railroad tracks, and analyzed it using simple artificial intelligence methods to identify “near-miss events,” where people were present on the tracks as a train approached, but managed to avoid being struck. Data on near-misses such as these are not presently recorded, leading to a lack of comprehensive information on trespassing behavior.

After publishing a paper on their research, the team looked into integrating deep learning neural networks into  the analysis, which can identify different types of objects. With this technology, they again looked at trespassers, using two weeks of footage this time. This study was effective, but still computationally-intensive. For their next project, with funding from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), they looked at the efficacy of applying a new algorithm, YOLO (You Only Look Once), to generate a trespassing database.

The algorithm has been fed live video from four locations over the past year, beginning on January 1, 2021, and concluding on December 31. Zaman noted that, with the AI’s analysis and the copious amounts of data, the research can begin to ask more granular questions such as, “How many trespasses can we expect on a Monday in winter? Or, what time of day is the worst for this particular location? Or, do truck drivers trespass more?”

Image of computer vision tool detecting pedestrians on tracks as train is actively using intersection, they are shown highlighted in green

Figure 5. Similar work shows AI identifying and flagging pedestrian trespassers. The researchers are currently working on using unreported “near-miss” data to improve safety. Courtesy of Zaman, Ren, and Liu.

After the year’s research has concluded, the researchers will study the data and look for applications. Without the AI integration, however, such study would be time-consuming and impractical. The applications fall under the “3E” categories: engineering, education, and enforcement. For example, if the analysis finds that trespassing tends to happen at a particular location at 5pm, then that might be when law enforcement are deployed to that area. If many near-misses are happening around high school graduation, then targeted education and enforcement would be warranted during this time. But without this analysis, no measures would be taken, as near-misses are not logged.

Currently, this type of technology is in the research stage. “We're kind of in the transition between the proof of concept and the deployment here,” Zaman said. The researchers are focused on proving its effectiveness, with the goal of enabling railroads and transit agencies to use these technologies to study particularly problematic areas, and determine if treatments are working or if additional measures are warranted. “It's already contributing, in a very small way, to safety decision making.”

Zaman said that the team at Rutgers was very interested in sharing this technology, and its potential applications, with others. In his estimation, these computer analytics are about five years from a more widespread rollout. He notes that this technology would be greatly beneficial as a part of transportation monitoring, as “AI can make use out of all this data that’s just kind of sitting there or getting rinsed every 30 days.”

Applying computer vision to existing video surveillance will help to address significant safety issues that have persistently affected the rail industry. The AI-driven safety analysis will identify key traits of trespassing that have been previously undetected, assisting decision makers in applying an appropriate response. As with other smart video analytics technologies, the benefit, lies in the enhanced ability to make informed decisions that save lives and keep the system moving.

 

Current and Future Research

The Transportation Research Board’s TRID Database provides recent examples of how automated video analytics are being explored in a wider context. For example, in North Dakota, an in-progress project, sponsored by the University of Utah, is studying the use of computer vision to automate the work of assessing rural roadway safety. In Texas, researchers at the University of Texas used existing intersection cameras to analyze pedestrian behavior, publishing two papers on their findings.

The TRID database also contains other recent research contributions to this emerging field. The article, “Assessing Bikeability with Street View Imagery and Computer Vision(2021) presents a hybrid model for assessing safety, applying computer vision to street view imagery, in addition to site visits. The article, "Detection of Motorcycles in Urban Traffic Using Video Analysis: A Review" (2021), considers how automatic video processing algorithms can increase safety for motorcyclists.

Finally, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has plans to undertake a research project, Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to Enhance Safety Analysis once a contractor has been selected. This study will develop processes for data collection, as well as analysis algorithms, and create guidance for managing data. Ultimately, this work will help to standardize and advance the adoption of AI and machine learning in the transportation industry.

The NCHRP Program has also funded workforce development studies to better prepare transportation agencies for adapting to this rapidly changing landscape for transportation systems operations and management.  In 2012, the NCHRP  publication, Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Skilled Staff for Transportation System Operations and Management, identified the growing need for transportation agencies to create pipelines for system operations and management (SOM) staff, develop the existing workforce with revamped trainings, and increase awareness of the field’s importance for  leadership and the public.  In 2019, the Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Workforce Guidebook further detailed specific job positions required for a robust TSMO program.  The report considered the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for these job positions and tailored recommendations to hiring each position. The report compiled information on training and professional development, including specific training providers and courses nationwide.

 

Conclusion

Following a brief scan of current literature and Interviews with three NJ-based researchers, it is clear that computer vision is a broadly applicable technology for the transportation sector, and that its implementation is imminent. It will transform aspects of both operations monitoring, and safety analysis work, as AI can monitor and analyze traffic video far more efficiently and effectively than human staff. Workplace roles, the researchers said, will shift to supporting the technology’s hardware in the field, as well as managing the software components.  Traffic operations monitoring might transition to interpreting and acting on incidents that the Smart Traffic Video Analytics flags. Engineers, tasked with analyzing traffic safety and determining the most effective treatments, will be informed by more expansive data on aspects such as driver behavior and conflict areas than available using more traditional methods.

The adoption of computer vision in the transportation sector will help to make our roads, intersections, and railways safer. It will help transportation professionals to better understand the conditions of facilities they monitor, providing invaluable insight for how to make them safer, and more efficient for all users. Most importantly, these additional metrics will provide ways of seeing how people behave within our transportation network, often in-real time, enabling data-driven interventions that will save lives.

State, regional and local transportation agencies will need to recruit and retain staff with the right knowledge, skills and abilities to capture the safety and operations benefits and navigate the challenges of adopting new technologies in making this transition.

 


Resources

Center for Transportation Research. (2020). Video Data Analytics for Safer and More Efficient Mobility. Center for Transportation Research. https://ctr.utexas.edu/wp-content/uploads/151.pdf

City of Bellevue, Washington. (2021). Accelerating Vision Zero with Advanced Video Analytics: Video-Based Network-Wide Conflict and Speed Analysis. National Operations Center of Excellence. https://transops.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded_files/City%20of%20Bellevue%2C%20WA%20-%20Conflict%20and%20Speed%20Analysis%20-%20NOCoE%20Case%20Study.pdf

Espinosa, J., Velastín, S., and Branch, J. (2021). "Detection of Motorcycles in Urban Traffic Using Video Analysis: A Review," in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, Vol. 22, No. 10, pp. 6115-6130, Oct. 2021. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9112620

Ito, Koichi, and Biljecki, Filip. (2021). “Assessing Bikeability with Street View Imagery and Computer Vision.Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.  Volume 132, November 2021, 103371. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trc.2021.103371

Jalayer, Mohammad, and Patel, Deep. (2020). Automated Analysis of Surrogate Safety Measures and Non-compliance Behavior of Road Users at Intersections. Rowan University. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Patel-Jalayer-with-video.pdf

Liu, Chengjun (2021). Stopped Vehicle Detection. New Jersey Institute of Technology. https://web.njit.edu/~cliu/NJDOT/DEMOS.html

Liu, X., Baozhang, R., and Zaman, A. (2019). Artificial Intelligence-Aided Automated Detection of Railroad Trespassing. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0361198119846468

Cronin, B., Anderson, L., Fien-Helfman, D., Cronin, C., Cook, A., Lodato, M., & Venner, M. (2012). Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Skilled Staff for Transportation System Operations and Management. National Cooperative Research Program (No. Project 20-86). http://nap.edu/14603

Pustokhina, I., Putsokhin, D., Vaiyapuri, T., Gupta, D., Kumar, S., and Shankar, K. (2021). An Automated Deep Learning Based Anomaly Detection in Pedestrian Walkways for Vulnerable Road Users Safety. Safety Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2021.105356

Szymkowski, T,. Ivey, S., Lopez, A., Noyes, P., Kehoe, N., Redden, C. (2019). Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Workforce Guidebook: Final Guidebook. https://transportationops.org/tools/tsmo-workforce-guidebook.

Shi, Hang and Liu, Chengjun. (2020). A New Cast Shadow Detection Method for Traffic Surveillance Video Analysis Using Color and Statistical Modeling. Image and Vision Computing. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.imavis.2019.103863

Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute. (2021). Intelligent Safety Assessment of Rural Roadways Using Automated Image and Video Analysis (Active). University of Utah. https://www.mountain-plains.org/research/details.php?id=566

Zhang, Z., Liu, X., and Zaman, A. (2018). Video Analytics for Railroad Safety Research: An Artificial Intelligence Approach. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0361198118792751

Zhang, T. Guo, M., and Jin, P. (2020). Longitudinal-Scanline-Based Arterial Traffic Video Analytics with Coordinate Transformation Assisted by 3D Infrastructure Data. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0361198120971257