Do you have to reduce the curb height to make the longitudinal barriers compliant with AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) requirements?
Join AASHTO for an information-packed webinar with New Jersey Department of Transportation on how saw-cutting is used in curb retrofitting to make longitudinal barrier installations compliant with new requirements in a safer, more cost-effective, and more efficient manner.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies in 2022. More info about the about the AII award and the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation can be found here.
AASHTO’s webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 2:00 pm EDT. Register HERE
NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Saw Cut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.
During this free webinar, participants will engage with NJDOT practitioners and contractors who have first-hand experience in implementing the saw-cutting method on their projects successfully.
Discussion will include:
Benefits of saw-cutting vertical curbs
Successes and lessons learned
Resources to get you started
Lead States Team Expert Presenters and Panelists
Gary Liedtka-Bizuga, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Henry Jablonski, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Peter Harry, Jr., ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.
Rick Berenato, ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.
Click to learn more about the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation and the New Jersey Build a Better Mousetrap program.
The FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit, held February 14-16, 2023, featured several New Jersey initiatives.
NJDOT’s Sal Cowan, Senior Director, Transportation Mobility, presented as a subject matter expert on Next Gen TIM: Technology for Saving Lives. He discussed NJDOT’s use of real-time notifications to commercial drivers, LED flares at incident scenes, and light towers on incident management response trucks for scene lighting. You can see his presentation here or the first video to the right.
As part of the National STIC Network Showcase, two New Jersey Metropolitan Planning Organizations, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), presented on techniques for Virtual Public Involvement. The MPOs used innovative strategies to increase public participation, particularly among traditionally underserved populations, in the long-range planning process. Click to see the presentation or see the second video to the right.
Six New Jersey innovations were included as part of the National STIC Network Innovation Showcase. Please click on the images below to find out more about these innovations that were implemented in the Garden State.
The FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit introduced the next round of innovative initiatives that merit widespread adoption by transportation agencies and other stakeholders.
General information on the EDC-7 Virtual Summit can be found here along with a link to the agenda for the event.
FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit Breakout: Next Gen TIM: Technology for Saving Lives
FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit | National STIC Network Showcase: Growing an Inclusive
The American Association of State Hghway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies for 2022. This award goes to agencies for the successful implementation or deployment of a proven technology that has high potential to result in significant economic or qualitative benefits. Innovative technologies are judged on the state of development, payoff potential and market readiness.
The AII program is a “peer-to-peer innovation advancement program.” AII grants national recognition to the innovations as well as resources and support to enable the agency to assist peer transportation agencies in adopting the innovation. For more information on the AII program, see here.
Sawcut Vertical Curb also won the 2022 New Jersey Build a Better Mousetrap Award. For more information on this innovation, watch the video.
UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair is a model innovation in the sixth round of the FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program (EDC-6). Ultra High Performance Concrete (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.
NJDOT recently installed UHPC Bridge Deck overlays on four bridges in New Jersey. NJDOT engineers, Jess Mendenhall and Samer Rabie, explained the rationale for UHPC's installation and highlighted key lessons learned in bridge selection, existing conditions & testing, design, materials specifications, construction methods and evaluation during the NJ STIC 4th Quarter 2022 meeting.
Their recorded presentation, Design, Construction, and Evaluation of UHPC Bridge Deck Overlays for NJDOT, is viewable below. Their presentation can be downloaded here or from the NJ STIC 4th Quarter Meeting page.
NJ STIC's UHPC Innovative Initiative page highlights the deployment progress and activities of the core team in seeking to advance UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair and contains other articles and resources.
Advancements in automobile technologies have prompted the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and other stakeholders across the nation and globe to explore the potential of Connected Vehicle systems. Connected Vehicle (CV) technology allows cars on the road to remotely communicate with surrounding digital systems, and react accordingly to ensure safety, operations and mobility benefits.
These communication networks are often divided into three broad concepts (1):
Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V): CVs communicating with each other to alert riders or prevent potential collisions.
Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I): CVs communicating with road or city systems, such as stoplights, to orient and guide safer road navigation.
Vehicle to Everything (V2X): CVs communicating with potentially any accessible device, such as a pedestrian’s phone to prevent unsafe traffic interactions.
CVs can be integrated with array of digital systems to improve vehicle safety. Source: MnDOT
Over several years, NJDOT has introduced several initiatives and participated in various CV-related working groups to evaluate the requirements for upgrading its digital infrastructure to support the successful deployment and integration of CV equipment into the existing NJDOT ITS architecture. From these evaluations, NJDOT determined that the best way to implement a real-world Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) solution would be to establish a complete CV test-bed environment with pilot field locations. This determination led to NJDOT completing its New Jersey Connected Technology Integration and Implementation (NJCTII) project. NJDOT recently drafted a case study published by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) that describes the lessons learned from the NJCTII initiative in advancing CV technologies (2).
TSMO Planning Strategies and Deployment
As part of the case study, NJDOT noted that a thorough planning and evaluation process was required to carry out the procurement, deployment and validation processes that could lead to the enhanced digital infrastructure hardware and software required for CV technologies. NJDOT described how its efforts followed the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) System Engineering Process, highlighting several key implementation steps:
Capability Maturity Matrix (CMM): A process tool that allowed the NJCTII to prioritize the proper actions and areas of emphasis throughout the NJCTII project.
Concept of Operations (ConOPS): A document that outlined the NJDOT’s current digital infrastructure and communications systems and identified the needs required to achieve statewide connectivity, CV data management and networking, procurement, and CV application deployment.
System Requirements Document (SRD): A document and a new process was created to evaluate deployment locations and determine needs for CV technology implementation, such as requirements for location selection, hardware selection, data flows security, and interoperability with existing NJDOT systems. NJDOT hosted or participated in several workshops to determine the overall system requirements of the digital infrastructure and CV technologies for successful deployment.
Solution Design Document (SDD): A document that utilized information from the SRD to design the digital infrastructure and CV systems for deployment at five pilot intersections, including wiring diagrams, networking, network equipment layout and field equipment installation.
Following this detailed TSMO implementation process, NJDOT was able to procure the hardware and software components required to complete a full CV system validation in a lab facility located at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) before conducting installation and field testing at pilot locations.
The laboratory testing and pilot implementation phases have involved a broad collaboration of government, academia, technology provider and engineering industry, stakeholders, among others.
Source: NOCoE Report
Outreach and Communications Lessons
The case study highlights the importance of outreach and communications processes that were conducted to coordinate with key stakeholders and other transportation agencies. These processes were used to determine the goals and needs for the CV system deployment on NJ’s roadway network and to consider the operational and safety issues that could be addressed through TSMO deployment strategies for CV systems. These activities included direct coordination with other transportation agencies within NJ, CV vendor and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), along with other departments within NJDOT.
Recognizing that there were many groups within NJ that were investigating CV technologies, but that they were working independent of each other, NJDOT and the NJCTII project team organized or participated in CV topic conferences, trainings, and laboratory demonstrations to disseminate knowledge of the emerging technology. The team found that involving many stakeholders in the CV planning and development process was a useful means to improve knowledge-sharing among practitioners and organizations, avoid and minimize redundant breakthroughs, accelerate the output of R&D, and increase buy-in across organizations.
CV systems connect to variety of digital inputs and outputs to advance road safety controls beyond what a particular element could achieve in isolation. Source: NJCTII Case Study Report
Outcomes and Benefits
The case study highlights several notable outcomes and benefits. One key benefit was that NJDOT successfully deployed and integrated CV technology for several purposes: Signaling, Phase and Timing (SpaT), Traveler Information Message (TIM), Basic Safety Message (BSM), Personal Safety Message (PSM) and MAP (i.e., messaging set to provide intersections) CV data. The NJCTII team used a spiral based testing approach in the lab to validate the CV systems. NJDOT used the lessons learned from the lab to deploy a fully functional CV system at 5 pilot intersections.
Advancing Projects Through Pipeline
A pipeline of Smart and Connected Corridor projects, which use CV technology, are at various stages of planning, design and implementation in New Jersey demonstrating the fruits of the efforts to-date (3). Earlier this year, the South Jersey Transportation Authority was awarded a $8.74 million grant for the Smart and Connected Atlantic City Expressway project (4). This project will utilize V2X and advanced intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology to improve traffic safety and efficiency. The project is being funded via the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant, a program launched through the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill, that is also supporting the implementation of CV systems in at least 9 other ITS projects (4). Another notable ATCMTD recipient-project is Kentucky’s Wrong Way Driving and Integrated Safety Technology System (4), which further highlights the potential of CV and ITS systems to implement road safety controls.
With an estimated 42,000 American car crash fatalities in 2021 alone (6), CVs’ potential to save lives and reduce congestion-generating crashes warrants increased attention. Models of better cooperation and general understanding of CVs, such as NJCTII, will continue to accelerate the improvement of the technology. The NJCTII initiative offers some useful lessons for other state DOTs and organizations in its approaches to test bed and pilot field-testing; use of trainings and lab demonstrations and other events to educate staff and stakeholders on CV technologies; and the development and sharing of documents to advance technological know-how and implementation through planning, design, procurement and installation phases.
The sixth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-6) was kicked off with a Virtual Summit that introduced the innovations that FHWA would be promoting over the next two years. The summit also featured a National State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Network Showcase that highlighted some 245 innovations developed and deployed by agencies throughout the United States. The next FHWA Virtual Showcase scheduled for February 2023 will similarly introduce EDC-7 innovations and feature select innovations of its state and local partnering agencies.
This article is one in an occasional series that takes a closer look at noteworthy “homegrown innovations” implemented within New Jersey and by other state and local agencies to save lives, time, and money.
New Jersey Innovates!
The NJDOT’s Innovation Program within the Bureau of Research works to identify, develop, promote, and institutionalize innovative transportation-related ideas, practices, and initiatives within the Department and beyond. NJDOT has recently shown its commitment to building a culture of innovation by adding an Innovation Coordinator to the Bureau of Research staff.
NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Sawcut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.
NJDOT has been promoting the annual Build a Better Mousetrap (BABM) Competition for several years to encourage submissions from employees of local and state public agencies who have developed new solutions to problems or found better ways of doing things. Current and past award winners explain these solutions and their benefits in videos found here, including the 2022 BABM winner's Sawcut Vertical Curb, an innovative response to a change in standards for curbing at guide rails.
Several NJ-based innovations will be among those featured as part of the FHWA EDC Innovation Showcase during the Every Day Counts Virtual Summit in February 2023. Innovations that will be highlighted include Weather-Responsive Management Strategies, Commercial Service Vehicle Alerts, Mercer County's Bike-Friendly Resurfacing Program, Montgomery Township’s Inlet Repair Trailer, New Jersey Metropolitan Planning Organization Virtual Public Involvement, and Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridges. Information about these and other innovations are often featured on the Innovation Spotlight page and NJ STIC Innovative Initiatives page of the NJDOT Technology Transfer website.
During Innovations Challenge showcases, MoDOT employees are able to physically see potential new best practices and ask questions about them in professional environment.
What Caught Our Eye
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has promoted a culture of innovation through its Innovation Challenge contest, which showcases and proliferates improvements to MoDOT’s tools and processes annually. Spurred on by MoDOT’s commitments to performance management between 2004 and the present, and its expressed values that ”embrace new ways of doing work” (1), this competition enables employees at all levels of the Department to introduce innovations that generate measurable results and cost savings. Since its inception in 2007, the Innovation Challenge has given thousands of MoDOT employees the opportunity to share their office’s improvements to productivity, tools, and project processes with the wider agency.
MoDOT employees receive small cash rewards for the highest ranked innovations, in addition to formalized recognitions such as the Dixon People's Choice Award or the Directors’ Safety Award. Innovations are divided into three categories (2) to convey the nature of each potential improvement:
Tools and Equipment. Innovations to items that were fabricated or modified by MoDOT employees.
Project. Innovative project implementations that produce exceptional results for transportation users or internal operations.
Productivity. Improvements to office and field processes, materials, and product submissions.
llinois DOT's "Innovative Ideas" Contest has recognized and promoted innovations such as a Mobile Plow Racking Emergency Stand System, Rotating Sign Holders, and an improved Payroll Calculator.
After an Innovation Challenge showcase, subject matter experts evaluate the innovations to determine if they should be recognized as best practices for MoDOT to adopt and promote. MoDOT has implemented over 300 showcased innovations to the level of best practices since 2007. The institutional benefit of rewarding innovation extends beyond the findings of the showcase itself; fostering a culture of innovation through this event motivates MoDOT teams to consider how to improve their work throughout the rest of the year. Giving hundreds of employees the opportunity to learn from their co-workers in such a celebratory way also increases buy-in for new transportation technologies and methods. Additionally, MoDOT notes that providing a space for employees at all levels of the Department to share ideas “can result in employee retention and boost teamwork” (2).
This winner of the Illinois Innovative Ideas Contest is a work zone sign holder for Truck Mounted Attenuators (TMA) that rotates to the side for installation, thereby increasing safety and avoiding damage to the TMA frame.
The MoDOT’s Innovation Challenge is one means by which agency leadership can encourage staff to "Live MoDOT Values" in accordance the agency's "Missions, Values and Tangible Results" statement. Three of these stated MoDOT values — “Be Bold,” “Be Better,” and “Be One Team” — acknowledge the extra effort and risk-taking needed to innovate processes and products, even if it invites the potential for failure (3). By “empowering staff (particularly middle-management leaders), encouraging innovation, demanding measurable results and cost savings, and holding staff accountable for results” (3), MoDOT and its Innovation Challenge foster an innovation-oriented mindset.
In the 2020 National STIC Showcase, FHWA recognized the Illinois Innovative Ideas Contest, Illinois DOT’s annual innovation competition inspired by MoDOT’s, showing that this approach has potential outside of Missouri. Information on Illinois DOT’s sister initiative is available here (4).
New Jersey Department of Transportation has been recognized with a 2022 America’s Transportation Award in the category of best use of technology and innovation. The annual competition is sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. NJDOT’s project, Implementation of Drivewyze on 647 miles of NJ’s Highways, involves the use of crowdsourced data to get more information into the hands of drivers about changing roadway conditions to inform their decision making in an effort to reduce crashes. Commercial vehicle alerts inform truck drivers of hazards on the road, such as sudden slowdowns, disabled vehicles, debris, and adverse weather conditions, before the truck is affected by the incident. The driver can seek an alternate route or pull over until the slowdown is cleared. New Jersey’s project was highlighted in the November/December 2022 FHWA Innovator along with other State DOT winning innovations.
FHWA’s latest report tracks progress on advancing innovations by the state DOTs during Round 6 of the EDC program.
The Every Day Counts Round 6 Progress Report #3 is now available here.
Every Day Counts (EDC) is the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) program to advance a culture of innovation in the transportation community in partnership with public and private stakeholders. Through this State-based effort, FHWA coordinates rapid deployment of proven strategies and technologies to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, and integrate automation.
The Progress Report summarizes the June 2022 status of deployment for the seven innovations in the sixth round of EDC. The report is intended to be a resource for transportation stakeholders as they develop their deployment plans and to encourage innovation in managing highway project delivery to better serve the Nation.
More information on the EDC-6 Round Innovations, including the initial Baseline Report and Progress Reports can be found here.
Partnering with the Federal Railroad Administration, New Jersey Transit and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), a research team at Rutgers University is using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to analyze rail crossing safety issues. Utilizing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at rail crossings, a team of Rutgers researchers, Asim Zaman, Xiang Liu, Zhipeng Zhang, and Jinxuan Xu, have developed and refined an AI-aided framework for detection of railroad trespassing events to identify the behavior of trespassers and capture video of infractions. The system uses an object detection algorithm to efficiently observe and process video data into a single dataset.
Rail trespassing is a significant safety concern resulting in injuries and deaths throughout the country, with the number of such incidents increasing over the past decade. Following passage of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that mandated the installation of cameras along passenger rail lines, transportation agencies have installed CCTV cameras at rail crossings across the country. Historically, only through recorded injuries and fatalities were railroads and transportation agencies able to identify crossings with trespassing issues. This analysis did not integrate information on near misses or live conditions at the crossing. Cameras could record this data, but reviewing the video would be a laborious task that required a significant resource commitment and could lead to missed trespassing events due to observer fatigue.
Zaman, Liu, Zhang, and Xu saw this problem as an opportunity to put AI techniques to work and make effective use of the available video and automate the observational process in a more systematic way. After utilizing AI for basic video analysis in a prior study, the researchers theorized that they could train an AI and deep learning to analyze the videos from these crossings and identify all trespassing events.
Working with NJDOT and NJ TRANSIT, they gained access to video footage from a crossing in Ramsey, NJ. Using a deep learning-based detection method named You Only Look Once or YOLO, their AI-framework detected trespassings, differentiated the types of violators, and generated clips to review. The tool identified a trespass only when the signal lights and crossing gates were active and tracked objects that changed from image to image in the defined space of the right-of-way. Figure 1 depicts the key steps in the process for application of AI in the analysis of live video stream or archived surveillance video.
The researchers applied AI review to 1,632 hours of video and 68 days of monitoring. They discovered 3,004 instances of trespassing, an average of 44 per day and nearly twice an hour. The researchers were able to demonstrate how the captured incidents could be used to formulate a demographic profile of trespassers (Figure 2) and better examine the environmental context leading to trespassing events to inform the selection and design of safety countermeasures (Figure 3).
A significant innovation from this research has been the production of the video clip that shows when and how the trespass event occurred; the ability to visually review the precise moment reduces overall data storage and the time needed performing labor-intensive reviews. (Zhang, Zaman, Xu, & Liu, 2022)
With the efficient assembly and analysis of video big data through AI techniques, agencies have an opportunity, as never before, to observe the patterns of trespassing. Extending this AI research method to multiple locations holds promise for perfecting the efficiency and accuracy in application of AI techniques in various lighting, weather and other environmental conditions and, more generally, to building a deeper understanding of the environmental context contributing to trespassing behaviors.
In fact, the success of this AI-aided Railroad Trespassing Tool has led to new opportunities to demonstrate its use. The researchers have already expanded their research to more crossings in New Jersey and into North Carolina and Virginia. (Bruno, 2022) The Federal Railroad Administration has also awarded the research team a $582,859 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant to support the technology’s deployment at five at-grade crossings in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. (U.S. DOT, Federal Railroad Administration, 2021) Rutgers University and Amtrak have provided a 42 percent match of the funding.
The program’s expansion in more places may lead to further improvements in the precision and quality of the AI detection data and methods. The researchers speculate that this technology could integrate with Positive Train Control (PTC) systems and highway Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). (Zhang, Zaman, Xu, & Liu, 2022) This merging of technologies could revolutionize railroad safety. To read more about this study and methodology, see this April 2022 Accident Analysis & Prevention article.
Commercial vehicle safety-related alerts can notify drivers of major slowdowns from incidents and weather to inform decision-making. Source: Sblover99, Wikimedia
The National Operations Center for Excellence held a webinar featuring New Jersey and Colorado DOT initiatives to establish private sector partnerships that use crowdsourced data to deliver real-time information to commercial vehicles to improve the safety of all road users. Transportation agencies can now deliver in-cab alerts about road conditions through connected truck service providers to help commercial vehicle drivers approach and react more quickly to roadway incidents, work zones, and adverse weather conditions.
For this event, the NJDOT’s Senior Director for Transportation Mobility, Sal Cowan, gave a presentation, “NJDOT Using Crowdsourced Data to Improve Road Safety: Real Time Communications with Truck Drivers”. He was joined in making this presentation by NJDOT's private sector partners for this initiative, Amy Lopez, Director, Public Sector Services and Smart City Strategy for INRIX, and Marc Nichols, Director, Government & Industry Partnerships for Drivewyze.
As traffic deaths rise, NJDOT wants to get more information into the hands of drivers about changing roadway conditions – the earlier the better – to inform their decision making in an effort to reduce crashes. Summoning the key phrase, “Whatever It Takes”, Director Cowan framed the life-saving imperative behind NJDOT's willingness to make greater use of crowdsourcing and real-time data tools to reduce the risk of crashes. He highlighted how commercial vehicle alerts can inform truck drivers of hazards on the road, such as sudden slowdowns, disabled vehicles, and debris before the truck is affected by the incident. The driver can seek an alternate route or pull over until the slowdown is cleared.
INRIX collects extensive traffic data for state transportation agencies. They provide two types of alerts: "curated" incidents are from multiple sources such as DOTs, Twitter feeds, Waze, police scanners and other sources that are managed by the INRIX incident team; and "calculated" incidents such as dangerous or sudden slowdowns that are mathematically calculated by INRIX and compare real time speeds with free flow speeds at specific segment locations to identify abnormal conditions. The INRIX system has the ability to deliver real-time data that detects and describes sudden slowdowns, closures, and queues by location for specific events. This data is passed on to Drivewyze to send out alerts.
Drivewyze, introduced as North America’s largest connected truck network, provides communication with some 2.8 million trucks via its Drivewyze application which is embedded in the electronic logging device (ELD) of the truck. Drivewyze takes data from INRIX and communicates it to commercial truck drivers. The system works with severity thresholds and trigger warnings so only events that exceed these thresholds are reported. Commercial drivers receive the messages through the ELD in their cab. The reported information can be customized to include notification of specific weather events, incidents, work zones, and bridge and road closures.
A "major winter storm alert" was distributed to several states in the Northeast and reached some 4,811 trucks at a critical time.
NJDOT plays a pivotal role in providing weather and detour related data. Through this partnership NJDOT can collect extensive data regarding issues and incidents that it otherwise could not directly obtain. This allows the state to identify areas along key highways that produce issues and NJDOT can then begin to identify ways to resolve them. In addition to analysis, NJDOT can work proactively with is partners to prevent crashes. During Winter Storm Kenan, NJDOT was able to send alerts out through Drivewyze to thousands of trucks across the Northeast to alert drivers to a major winter storm and hazardous road conditions and to take precautions.
The webinar, part of the FHWA's Adventures in Crowdsourcing Webinar Series, had two featured presentations on initiatives to address commercial vehicle safety through crowdsourcing. The webinar explored lessons from New Jersey, Colorado and other states through presentations and information exchange with attendees from the FHWA, other state DOTs, and private sector partners. To learn more about the New Jersey initiative and the capabilities of its private sector partners, check out the full presentation here, starting at the 29th minute. The presentations given by the NJ team and other presenters can be downloaded here.