NJLTAP – Proven Safety Countermeasures Workshops – Upcoming Events

New Jersey is currently a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) focus approach state for both Pedestrians and Intersections, with approximately 24% of fatal and serious injury crashes involving Intersections and 27% involving Pedestrians and Bicycles. In New Jersey, approximately 60% of fatal and serious injury crashes are occurring on the local system.

The New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJLTAP) has partnered with the FHWA Division Office, NJDOT Bureau of Safety, Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs and Local Aid and Economic Development, and our three Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to develop a half-day workshop focused on the FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures and the funding available for improvements to the local system.

This workshop provides guidance on the FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures that local public agencies can implement to successfully address roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes. The course will provide emphasis on intersection and pedestrian safety countermeasures, as well as potential funding sources (both federal and state) for implementing such countermeasures. Further, emphasis will be provided to include ways to implement the countermeasures into existing projects as proactive low-cost solutions to safety improvements.

Registration is required to attend any of these workshop events to be in North, South and Central regions of NJ.  AICP and PE credits will be available.  There is no fee for these workshops, but advance registration is required.

Visit the NLTAP Training and Events page for more information and to register for any of the 3 workshops:

The Impact of SJTPO’s Traffic Signal Inventory on Signal Operations

As technology advances, so does the need for data—information that allows engineers, planners, and others to utilize innovative ways to improve transportation and safety. To implement smart traffic systems, whereby centrally controlled traffic signals and sensors regulate the flow of traffic, agencies must know the present state of their traffic signal infrastructure. The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO), the metropolitan planning organization for four counties in South Jersey, sought to better understand their infrastructure by developing a database of all traffic signals in the region. Completed in 2017, the database provides local agencies with the information needed to target intersections and signals for upgrades and replacements. Replacement with newer integrated traffic signals improves traffic flow, allows for remote signal monitoring and regional signal maintenance, and supports bicycle and pedestrian improvements at intersections.

A traffic signal located in SJTPO’s region. (Source: Tracy, 2017)

In 2016, SJTPO sought to create a database for all traffic signals within Atlantic, Cape May, and Salem Counties. Previously, Cumberland County had developed a traffic signal inventory which SJTPO plans to integrate into the new, comprehensive database. SJTPO and county governments wanted to know the count, age, and types of signals in their jurisdictions. An SJTPO study in Vineland found that many of their signals were very old, with one using circa 1955 electromechanical components to operate. In addition, traffic signal maintenance progressively transferred from municipalities to counties and records of some signals were found to be deficient. The lack of information needed to properly maintain signals was a major impetus for creating the database, according to Andrew Tracy formerly of SJTPO (Source: Tracy, 2017).

Agencies across the country have created similar traffic signal databases. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the regional metropolitan planning organization for Chicago and the surrounding seven counties, undertook development of a signal database in 2013 for the region, with the first version released to the public in 2018. CMAP’s goals for the database reflect those of SJTPO. The agency seeks to use the information for planning, and targeting specific signals and intersections for upgrades and replacement.

For an RFP issued to support its regional signal timing initiative,  SJTPO included a list of specific intersections identified by the counties for possible improvements. Extensive outreach to counties and municipalities to acquire signal data and plans took place prior to the database assembly to minimize the field work needed. For all data acquisition requiring field work, the subcontractor created an application to minimize errors with data input. The participating counties gave data collectors the keys to their controller cabinets along with a permission note in case police questioned them during their field work efforts. The signals were classified by features such as signal location, mast arm, head, sign, and presence of pedestrian push buttons. Additional information collected included intersection features such as ADA ramps, crosswalks, etc.

A look at SJTPO’s map and reviewer application for data input. (Source: Tracy, 2017)

Traffic data was also collected at identified intersections, including turning movement counts, queue lengths, delays, and travel times. This information could be used for traffic simulation modeling, performance measurement of intersections, and  revised signal timing plans. Extensive photography of the signals and intersections complemented the data set and provided visual aids. In total, 431 signals, including 258 traditional traffic signals and 173 beacons, were logged in the database across the 3 counties. The signal inventory was completed in 2017 and each county updates the database when a signal or intersection receives upgrades.

The traffic signal inventory database has created a variety of benefits for SJTPO and the region’s residents. One of the most noticeable benefits for local agencies has been access to data to target specific signals for upgraded technology, such as vehicle detection cameras and GPS clocks for signal coordination, or installation of new signals. The database can help identify intersections for bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements and greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities, such as wheelchair ramps and improved crosswalks. Signal upgrades benefit residents by improving traffic flow, and allowing for implementation of remote signal monitoring and signal maintenance at a regional, rather than local, level. Finally, the database reinforces knowledge preservation to ease any transitions in the event of staff turnover.

For other agencies considering a similar database, a Signal Inventory configuration is available via Collector for ArcGIS and performs similar functions as the SJTPO in-house application. Additional information on the process for assembling the SJTPO’s Traffic Signal Inventory Database can be found in a webinar (see below)  hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Geospatial Transportation Users Group.

Sources:

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “Highway Traffic Signal Inventory: Draft Proposal.” CMAP, October 29, 2015. https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/481346/RegionnalSignals_Proposal_20151029_forRTOC.pdf/3aef6a03-a792-44ed-9515-11496c9c25f8.

South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization. “Request for Proposals: Regional Signal Timing Initiative.” SJTPO, July 13, 2017. https://www.sjtpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/SJTPO-RFP-Regional_Signal_Timing_Initiative.pdf.

Tracy, Andrew. October 30, 2017. https://www.sjtpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CAC-10-30-2017-Andrew-Tracy-Signals.pdf.

Tracy, Andrew, Colleen Richwald, David Braig, and Matthew Duffy. October 12, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMO7-NYuXZ0.

Tech Talk! Webinar: The Connected Job Site

On November 14, 2019, FHWA sponsored an innovation exchange webinar, "The Connected Job Site," that was live broadcast by the NJDOT Bureau of Research as part of its Tech Talk! series, for NJDOT staff at NJDOT Headquarters in the Foran Building Training Room.

With the recent influx of new technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and drones, and their growing and widespread availability, many ingenious applications have been developed for their effective deployment in construction and operations and maintenance activities in transportation. These technologies have allowed for real-time project monitoring, improved communication among team members, documentation stored on the cloud, and more efficient online scheduling. During this webinar, attendees learned about what exactly connected job sites are, and how various local agencies from around the country have started to utilize these technologies in innovative ways.

FHWA launched the webinar with a short presentation, Ten Examples of Connected Technologies, that highlighted examples of tools and technologies found on the connected job site. The primary objective behind the adoption of these connected technologies is to save time and money and improve safety in operations.  Hardware like smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearable technology and various vehicles and equipment have streamlined communications and planning in performing field work, while software solutions like 3D Modeling and Building Information Modeling (BIM) have improved the accuracy and efficiency of digital representation for physical facilities and infrastructure design. Virtual reality (VR) technologies have also started to find applications in the field, allowing professionals to safely experiment and test ideas in an artificial environment and bring products and concepts to life through visualizations.  Using VR in conjunction with drone technology, for example, has allowed maintenance crews to safely examine parts of bridges that were previously hazardous to inspect. The advent of unmanned aerial vehicle systems, in general, has provided the ability to garner visual information at a lower cost than traditional methods, while keeping workers out of harm’s way.

Connected job sites do not always have to deploy new technologies; sometimes they just re-purpose applications of older technologies in conjunction with new ideas. GPS systems have been around for decades, but when used with new software they are immensely effective in improving efficiency.  Two case examples of this were provided by the local public agencies who participated in the webinar.

Township staff can review actual snow plow routes to improve cost-effective coverage and verify citizen complaints

The Township of Edison’s presentation, Improve Fleet Operations Through the Use of GPS and Telematics, provided by the New Jersey municipality’s Information Technology Manager, described some benefits and challenges of the installation of GPS tracking devices on its vehicle maintenance fleet.  During snow events, the Township was able to monitor the entire routes taken by its snow plow trucks and the specific segments where the plows were used.  Once the monitoring systems were in place, the Township found that it had the capability to more effectively evaluate individual citizen complaints of streets not being plowed adequately.  For example, the Township could check its mapped records of fleet route deployment during storm events, and see if the complaints were "true" and then determine whether a specific snow removal job needed to be repeated.  More broadly, the tool allowed the agency to ascertain whether designated routes were being followed by operators and whether the priority routes themselves were efficient and effective in both design and operation.

This capability had the added benefit of reducing the Township’s liability for alleged property damage. In fact, the Township found that some 50 percent of the claims that asserted that snow plows were hitting parked vehicles could not be substantiated after checking the GPS location of the snowplow trucks and their route history. Insurance claims and payouts were reduced by some 60 percent due to this capacity to technically validate the potential merits of a claim. The Township also found that it was able to improve efficiency in route designs, leading to less wear and tear on equipment, less use of salt and brine, and a reduction in person-hours and overtime costs.

The Township touched upon tool features that improved the monitoring of vehicles for preventative maintenance. As vehicles systems were now connected to a central hub, needed repairs were identified more quickly and systematically, and less dependent on individual driver reports of faults in a vehicle's operation.  Eventually, low use and high maintenance cost vehicles were better identified and retired, allowing for an overall fleet reduction of 35 percent which, in turn, has reduced costs for fuel, insurance, parts and labor.

For Lauderdale uses available individual vehicle operations measures to improve safety and support preventative maintenance progam for its fleet.

The City of Fort Lauderdale’s presentation, How to Improve Fleet Sustainability, jointly given by the City’s Program Manager for Fleet Services and their Automotive and Equipment Specialist, described several features and benefits of their fleet management program, including the use of geofencing. A geofence is a virtual perimeter dynamically generated for a real-world geographic area around a point location, or a predefined set of boundaries. It is typically used for security purposes and to better track people and equipment. Fort Lauderdale used geofencing to help preserve its infrastructure, as it was able to monitor overweight trucks using historic bridges; with this real time technology, they were able to reduce over-weight vehicles crossing the bridge by nearly 90 percent.

Vehicle tracking had the side benefit of making their drivers operate more safely.  The City found that its personnel were less likely to go over the speed limit if they were monitored, and “harsh events” such as braking and sharp turns were also reduced.  Examples of some of the specific and aggregate dashboard performance measures that can be monitored for equipment usage were highlighted.

In the dialogue following both presentations, it was clear that the adoption of the connected technologies changed the way business is being performed. Notably, the tools and performance measures permit increased tracking of the workforce on-the-job.  The presenters acknowledged that it can raise concerns about the level of monitoring available to the local public agency's management team.  However, according to the presenters, the implementation of the systems has generally improved the safety and efficiency of daily operations and contributed to improved maintenance and longevity of their fleets.

While the webinar shared just a couple of case examples primarily focused on fleet management, the FHWA hosts stressed that the future of connected job sites will only grow as the “internet of things” becomes more complex. Everything from automated vehicles, intelligent compaction, drones, and RFID scanners will continue to find new applications, and new ways to save money and enhance safety.

The Connected Job Site webinar is one in a series of Innovation Exchange webinars sponsored by the Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) in the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Innovative Program Delivery. Through Innovative Exchange webinars, CLAS seeks to bring cutting-edge transportation leaders to the table to share ideas and out of the box innovative practices that have proven results.  More information about this webinar, upcoming webinars, and webinars available on demand can be found here.

How SJTPO Refined Their Congestion Management Process with Crowdsourced Data

Through the Everyday Counts (EDC) program, FHWA identifies and deploys established but underutilized innovations through a state-based model, with the goals of streamlining project delivery, improving roadway safety, decreasing traffic congestion, and incorporating automation. The fifth round of EDC kicked off in 2019 and included Crowdsourcing for Operations as one of ten initiatives.

As described by FHWA, "When combined with traditional data, crowdsourcing helps agencies efficiently implement proactive strategies that improve incident detection, traffic signal retiming, road weather management, traveler information, and other operational programs" (EDC-5). Crowdsourced operations data can include traffic, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, construction, and weather information collected in real-time by intelligent transportation systems (ITS) infrastructure and archived for planning use. One example of this traffic data is time and vehicle location collected via GPS probe-based sources, such as vehicles and smartphones. Through NJDOT and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), New Jersey has institutionalized the practice by incorporating crowdsourced data into multiple operational programs since 2008.

Congestion Management Process

An example of PDA Suite's Performance Chart tool displaying archived operations data for speed. Photo source: Tracy, 2019.

The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO), the MPO that represents Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties, revised its Congestion Management Process (CMP) last year, with formal adoption in November 2018. A CMP is defined by FHWA as “a systematic and regionally-accepted approach for managing congestion that provides accurate, up-to-date information on transportation system performance and assesses alternative strategies for congestion management that meet State and local needs.” Metropolitan areas larger than 200,000 people are required to develop and implement a CMP as part of their overall transportation planning process for their region.

An effective CMP will help a region pinpoint congested roadways, determine multimodal performance measures, develop congestion management strategies and implementation methods, and assess the efficacy of the implemented strategies. While FHWA does not strictly define how to implement a CMP, they do provide a CMP Guidebook with an eight-step Process Model which SJTPO followed:

  1. Develop Regional Objectives for Congestion Management
  2. Define CMP Network
  3. Develop Multimodal Performance Measures
  4. Collect Data/Monitor System Performance
  5. Analyze Congestion Problems and Needs
  6. Identify and Assess Strategies
  7. Program and Implement Strategies
  8. Evaluate Strategy Effectiveness.

Along with the 2020 Regional Transportation Plan update, two important pieces of legislation drove SJTPO’s motivation to overhaul their CMP: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) of 2012 and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. Both of these laws established requirements for performance-based planning and programming by MPOs. Performance-based planning and programming consists of the following steps: identifying a transportation system’s needs and problems, prioritizing projects and programs for investment, and monitoring impacts of the projects. SJTPO revised the CMP methodology using recently acquired real-time and archived travel time data to establish performance measures for the extent and severity of congestion throughout the region. The archived operations data provides a more holistic picture of system performance, creates more relatable and user-friendly measures, and enables more sophisticated modelling.

PDA Suite's Bottleneck Ranking tool displays here all bottlenecks found on a specific date range by time of day, visualized by maximum queue length in miles. Photo source: Tracy, 2019.

Under a contract with NJDOT, the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory (CATT Lab) provided all three New Jersey MPOs with access to real-time and archived data via the Probe Data Analytics Suite (PDA Suite). The PDA Suite is a web-based platform that consists of a range of data visualization and retrieval tools for real-time and archived probe data. The vehicle probe data is provided by multiple third-party vendors, including INRIX, HERE, and TomTom, that collect it via smart phone navigation apps. These companies anonymously aggregate the data which is then used by the PDA Suite tools to calculate metrics such as real-time speed data, travel time index, travel time reliability, queue measurements, statewide bottleneck ranking, and corridor congestion charts, among others.

An overview of the tools available in the PDA Suite. Photo source: Tracy, 2019.

Agencies can use the tool to download reports, create interactive maps and graphics, and download raw data for external analysis. The performance measurement data is available at both the corridor and regional level, with 1,556 roadway segments covered in the SJTPO region. SJTPO has used PDA Suite’s Bottleneck Ranking Tool to create congestion screening lists for all of their counties; the lists are then screened for outliers and confirmed with independent data sources. SJTPO will then meet with county and municipal stakeholders to gather their input to prioritize locations and develop a problem statement. So far, SJTPO has found PDA suite valuable for quantifying seasonal congestion, which traditionally is difficult to define. Compared to traffic counts, operations data has wider spatial and temporal coverage.

Lessons Learned

While this data has been incredibly valuable to SJTPO, the agency has learned there are several drawbacks when it comes to working with crowdsourced big data. False positives may occur that identify congested areas when a roadway segment has a low sample size of probe vehicles, or there is a typical traffic signal delay or an inaccurate calculation of historical reference speed. Additionally, there are many ways to parse and analyze a dataset, which can lead to different results. To accurately represent the travel experience, organizations need to develop and use consistent methodology.

Looking forward, SJTPO plans to continually update their CMP. The document will evolve with additional insight from internal documents and studies (including the 2020 Regional Transportation Plan), changes to planning guidelines, and shifts in regional demographic and fiscal resources. In 2020, a Congestion Management Process Activity Report will be issued to summarize findings to be incorporated in the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan Update.

Sources:

CATT Lab. “Probe Data Analytics Suite.” CATT Lab. University of Maryland, 2019. https://www.cattlab.umd.edu/?portfolio=vehicle-probe-project-suite.

FHWA. “Crowdsourcing for Operations.” Center for Accelerating Innovation. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, October 22, 2019. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_5/crowdsourcing.cfm.

FHWA. “Congestion Management Process (CMP).” Organizing and Planning Operations. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, February 11, 2019. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/plan4ops/focus_areas/cmp.htm.

SJTPO. “Congestion Management Process.” Congestion Management Process (CMP). South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization, 2019. https://www.sjtpo.org/CMP/.

SJTPO. “Congestion Management Process: Methodology Report.” Congestion Management Process (CMP). South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization, 2018. https://www.sjtpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/CMP-Report-2017.pdf.

Tracy, Andrew. “The Use of Real-Time and Archived Operations Data for Congestion Planning and Incident Management.” TransAction 2019. April 17, 2019. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/SJTPO-TransAction-2019-Operations-Data-slides.pdf.

Share Your Ideas on the NJ Transportation Research Ideas Collaboration Site!

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Bureau of Research invites you to participate in the NJ Transportation Research Ideas Collaboration site.

We are asking NJDOT’s research customers and other transportation stakeholders to propose research ideas for the NJDOT Research Program. Join us in finding workable solutions to problems that affect the safety, accessibility, and mobility of New Jersey’s residents, workers, visitors and businesses.

REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE.  Once you are registered, you may submit ideas at any time.  If you registered last year, you do not need to register again.

HOW DO I SUBMIT AN IDEA?  Only registered participants can log in to submit a new idea or vote on other ideas to show your support. Register at the NJ Transportation Research Ideas website welcome page here:  https://njdottechtransfer.ideascale.com/

NEXT ROUND OF RESEARCH.  Please submit your research ideas no later than December 31, 2019 for the next round of research RFPs. The NJDOT Research Oversight Committee (ROC) will prioritize research ideas after this date, and high priority research needs will be posted for proposals.

Questions about how to register?
Email: ideas@njdottechtransfer.net

For more information about NJDOT Bureau of Research, visit our website:  http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/refdata/research/

Or contact us:  Bureau.Research@dot.nj.gov or (609) 963-2224.

Spotlight: New Technology Evaluations

The New Technologies and Products (NTP) Unit in NJDOT’s Division of Bridge Engineering and Infrastructure Management reviews and evaluates new technologies and products submitted by manufacturers, vendors and suppliers. The unit is currently evaluating over 50 products for possible use at NJDOT to address needs related to safety, pavement, drainage, bridges and structures, among other categories.

NJDOT defines a new technology as “any product, process, or material used in the construction and maintenance of roadways and bridges that is not covered by existing NJDOT standard specifications or construction details, thereby requiring a formal evaluation for approval.” Products may receive a formal evaluation if they are finished and marketed, and address high priority needs.

The unit maintains the New Technologies and Products database of tested products from 2002 to the present. The database displays the category, the name of the product with a link to the product webpage, the company and the status of the evaluation. The NTP database status code legend is available on the NJDOT New Technology Evaluations webpage. Products may be actively undergoing testing, in a demonstration phase, or specification development phase, or in other stages of evaluation.

If, through the evaluation process, a technology or product is found acceptable for use on NJDOT projects, development and implementation of a standard specification, construction detail, or design guideline is still needed through a baseline document change.

Evaluation typically takes two to three years, although technical information and testing data from other testing agencies may expedite the process. Proposals for use of a new technology on a specific project, and recurrent use of an alternate or non-standard item on several projects, can lead to acceptance as a standard item.

 

 

Drone Technology at NJDOT

NJDOT’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program in the Bureau of Aeronautics is demonstrating how the adoption of drone technology can serve NJDOT’s goals to increase safety, increase efficiency, save time, and save money. Drones are replacing boots on the ground, increasing accuracy, speeding up data collection, and providing access to hard-to-reach locations for divisions throughout the Department.

Click on the link below to see how drones are being used within NJDOT to drive innovation in the way our agency and workforce operate and what lies ahead for this technology.

EDC-5 STEP – Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian

On October 30th the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted the Lunchtime Tech Talk! Event on “EDC-5 STEP: Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian.” This event featured Peter Eun, a Transportation Safety Engineer with the Federal Highway Administration’s Resource Center’s Safety & Design Technical Service Team in Olympia, Washington. Mr. Eun discussed recent initiatives from FHWA regarding improvements in pedestrian safety and accessibility.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while 2018 featured a decline in overall fatalities on our roads, there was an increase of pedestrian fatalities, highlighting the increased need for action. Considering that over 72% of pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersection locations, Mr. Eun focused much  of his presentation on cost-effective countermeasures that can be systemically applied to reduce these crashes and save lives.

In his talk, he described how roadway configuration, traffic volumes, and posted speed limits inform the selection of appropriate countermeasures. By way of example, he referred to the Crosswalk Markings section of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD Section 3B.18):

Crosswalk Visibility Enhancements

Crosswalk Visibility Enhancements

“new marked crosswalks alone, without other measures designed to reduce traffic speeds, shorten crossing distances, enhance driver awareness of the crossing, and/or provide active warning of pedestrian presence, should not be installed across uncontrolled roadways where the speed limit exceeds 40 mph and /or either has 4 or more lanes without a raised median or island and ADT of 12,000 or more, or 4 or more lanes with raised median island and ADT of 15,000 or more”.

Setting the foundation for countermeasures,  Mr. Eun cited grave statistics from research on how increasing speeds lead to greater serious injuries or fatalities for pedestrians and warned of a diminishing “cone of vision” at higher speeds as visual field and peripheral vision narrows. He shared a provocative safety video to convey how even small differences of speed can affect the ability of drivers to react and avoid crashes to the detriment of pedestrians.

Describing them as the “Spectacular Seven”, Mr. Eun highlighted the following countermeasures:

  • Rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) are active (user-actuated) or passive (automated detection) amber LEDs that use an irregular flash pattern at mid-block or uncontrolled crossing locations. They significantly increase driver yielding behavior.
  • Leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) at signalized intersections allow pedestrians to walk, usually 3 to 4 seconds, before vehicles get a green signal to turn left or right. The LPI increases visibility, reduces conflicts, and improves yielding.
  • Crosswalk visibility enhancements, such as crosswalk lighting and enhanced signage and markings, help drivers detect pedestrians–particularly at night.

    Pedestrian Refuge Islands

    Pedestrian Refuge Islands

  • Raised crosswalks can serve as a traffic calming measure and reduce vehicle speeds.
  • Pedestrian crossing/refuge islands allow pedestrians a safer place to stop at the midpoint of the roadway before crossing the remaining distance. This is particularly helpful for pedestrians with limited mobility.
  • Pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) provide positive stop control for higher-speed, multilane roadways with high vehicular volumes. The PHB is an intermediate option between a flashing beacon and a full pedestrian signal.
  • Road Diets can reduce vehicle speeds and the number of lanes pedestrians cross, and they can create space to add new pedestrian facilities such as pedestrian crossing/refuge islands.

Using case examples from all over the country, Mr. Eun discussed several example situations where these countermeasures could be used, as well as the benefits to implementing them and the difficulties that may be encountered during implementation. Since expecting pedestrians to travel significantly out of their way to cross a roadway is unrealistic and counterproductive, improvements must be made to make crossings more accessible and more safe. By focusing on uncontrolled locations, agencies can address a significant national safety problem and improve quality of life for pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Mr. Eun then addressed a systemic approach to identifying safety issues and appropriate STEP countermeasures. Using this systemic approach, agencies can focus on countermeasures that address risk rather than specific locations. Once a risk factor characteristic of a number of crashes has been identified, agencies can be proactive and address that risk wherever it appears within the system. A system-based approach acknowledges crashes alone are not always sufficient to determine what countermeasures to implement, particularly on low-volume local and rural roadways where crash densities are lower, and in many urban areas where there are conflicts between vehicles and vulnerable road users (pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists). As such, systemic safety analysis does not require extensive data or complex analysis methods to be effective, just the desire to make the biggest safety impact with limited resources.

Resources

View the presentation: Eun Peter (2019). Every Day Counts so STEP up (Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian).

View the Australian Safety PSA Video:

21st Annual NJDOT Research Showcase

NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, gave opening remarks.

David C. Woessner, Executive VP, LM Industries + Local Motors gave Keynote Address.

Panelists discussed how innovations in connectivity can improve safety, equity, and mobility.

The 21st Annual New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Research Showcase was an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway and share technology transfer activities being conducted by institutions of higher education partners and their associates.  The annual event serves to highlight the benefits of transportation research, including NJDOT's own research program. As part of the event, various awards were presented for implementation-minded research, innovation, and outstanding work performed by university students studying in a transportation-related field.

The day's Research Showcase Program included a plenary morning session with welcoming remarks, a keynote speaker and a knowledgeable panel of industry, university and NJDOT representatives offering their perspectives and fielding questions on how innovations in connectivity today and in the future may affect safety, mobility and equity.  The afternoon included several rounds of breakout sessions on innovation, safety, equity and mobility as well as a poster session.

NJDOT Commissioner of Transportation, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, provided opening remarks along with the Federal Highway Administration's Assistant Division Administrator in New Jersey, Valeriya Remezova.

The morning's featured keynote speaker was David C. Woessner, an Executive Vice President for Corporate Development and External Affairs, at LM Industries + Local Motors.  His presentation included an overview of his firm's products, markets and initiatives and its orientation toward addressing the big challenges in the adoption of technology solutions to improve mobility.

His talk included an overview of the research, development and testing of Olli, a Low-Speed Autonomous Vehicle Platform, and the use of 3D printing for its production. During his talk, Mr. Woessner touched upon his firm's testing and validation activities deploying a shared autonomous vehicle (AV) in a controlled environment and preparing a Voluntary Safety Self Assessment (VSSA) in response to the U.S. DOT's voluntary guidance on automated driving systems.

Ollli is being deployed in campus-like settings including entertainment venues.

In discussing mobility challenges, he explained the long-term vision for deployment of shared autonomous vehicles as a last-mile/first mile connector service with transit nodes, and as an on-demand micro-transit solution to maximize service coverage and serve traditionally underserved populations such as persons with disabilities, the poor or others who live in transit "deserts" who may be inadequately served by existing fixed route transit routes.  However, at the current stage of design and testing, Olli is well-positioned for deployment in more controlled campus environments -- for example,  university campuses,  business and industrial parks, military bases, municipalities, entertainment and theme parks, private residential communities, and airports.  As the market matures and as testing and validation warrants, the expectation is that Olli will transition from private campuses to public roads.

During the event, several awards were given in recognition of research, innovation and implementation efforts.  Below is a listing of the award winners recognized at this year's showcase:

  • 2019 NJDOT Research Implementation Award - Peramulsamy N. Balagauru, Rutgers University, Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, Protocol for Accepting Over Paint on Steel. The Research Advisory Committee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) selected this NJDOT project as one of 16 high-value research projects for 2019 in the category of Smart Maintenance and Preservation earlier in the year.
  • 2019 NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap (BABM) Award - The 2019 BABM Award was given for a Bridge Fender Navigation Lighting Reflective Backup System to Gerald Oliveto in NJDOT Operations Support and Engineering. Retroreflective panels were installed on NJDOT bridges in navigable waters to better identify bridge piers and serve as a backup system for navigation lighting.  The backup system avoids the burden of potential fines for malfunctioning navigation lighting and additional costs for emergency work orders and overtime repairs to the bridge fender navigation lighting system.  The panels provide an enhanced safety feature to the maritime community by allowing for increased visibility of the bridge fender systems and can safely identify the channel margins should navigation lighting malfunction.  The low cost application can be transferred to any other agency with bridges spanning navigable waterways; such as NJ Transit, counties, port authorities/commissions, and other state DOTs.
  • 2019 Best Poster Award - Xiao Tan, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • 2019 Outstanding University Student in Transportation Research Award - Daniel Offenbacker, Rowan University

Those in attendance were also informed of recent awards given to NJDOT in recognition of initiatives in research and innovation.  Presented by Ms. Remezova of FHWA, the awards were given for the AASHTO 2019 Sweet 16 High Value Research Award and for AASHTO 2019 State Transportation Innovative Council (STIC) Excellence Award.

The 21st Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was organized and sponsored by the NJDOT Bureau of Research in partnership with the New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJLTAP) at Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration.

Below are presentations and posters from the afternoon breakout sessions.  All the files below are in PDF.

Accepting the Better Mousetrap Award, Gerald Oliveto, Operations Support and Engineering. with Assistant Commissioners Michael Russo, Andrew Tunnard, and Bureau of Research Manager, Amanda Gendek

Poster Award Recipient Xiao Tan, Improving Bridge Performance Using Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP), Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) and Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC)

2019 Outstanding University Student in Transportation Research Award, Daniel Offenbacker, Rowan University

 

2019 NJDOT Research Implementation Award, Peramulsamy N. Balagauru, Rutgers University, Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, Protocol for Accepting Over Paint on Steel.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS
INNOVATION

EQUITY AND MOBILITY

SAFETY

POSTER PRESENTATIONS

Evaluating New Jersey’s Use of Raised Pavement Markers for Roadway Safety

In the United States, data has shown that more than a third of fatal crashes on two-lane undivided highways and 27 percent of fatal crashes on four-lane divided highways occur in dark, unlighted conditions. Raised Pavement Markers (RPMs) are a common device deployed for roadway safety around the world since the 1930s. RPMs are delineation devices used to improve preview distances and provide guidance for drivers in inclement weather and low-light conditions. There are two main types of RPMs, ones that can be used with snow plows and ones that cannot.

While most states install RPMs selectively based on particular locational characteristics of the roadways, New Jersey uses RPMs along all centerlines (solid and skip), regardless of traffic volume, roadway geometry, or roadway classification. The extensive use of RPMs in New Jersey has raised interest in understanding 1) whether this significant investment generates variant safety benefits at different locations; 2) whether there are alternatives or modifications to the existing RPMs; and 3) how to optimize the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of RPMs and their promising alternatives in order to attain a more cost-effective safety improvement.

The selected team from Rutgers University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute employed four distinct methods to address these research questions. The first was to conduct a literature review to inform the development of a methodological framework for quantifying the safety and cost-effectiveness of RPMs and their alternatives, based on specific road and traffic characteristics. Second, the researchers developed a luminance measurement method to compare the luminance of RPMs to different markers’ ability to inform drivers of road lines. Luminance measurement is defined as “the amount of visible light leaving a point on a surface in a given direction” (“Lighting Design Glossary”). Third, the group conducted a survey of other state DOTs practices and their guidelines for installation, including alternatives used. Lastly, the researchers developed a computer-aided decision support tool to calculate the life cycle costs of RPMs and their alternatives. Different alternatives were considered throughout the study, including various forms of rumble strips, preformed tape, and delineators.

The researchers came to several findings that provided insight into NJDOT’s current use and potential future research opportunities. The literature review of previous studies was inconclusive, with no consensus on whether RPMs affect the crash rate on roadways, with past research showing both negative and positive safety changes post-installation.

RPM samples used for measurements in the luminance tests. Photo Source: Xiang et al.

The survey of state DOTs yielded 22 responses from states throughout all regions of the country. The survey had two main sections, “RPM Installation” and “RPM Inspection and Maintenance”. No consensus or clear pattern was found among the states in terms of practices for installation, inspection, maintenance, and alternatives used. However, the researchers found that other state DOTs were more selective than New Jersey in choosing RPM installation sites based on traffic volume, accident history, and weather conditions.

To quantify the contribution that RPMs make towards safety outcomes on New Jersey roads, researchers compared the safety performance of county roads since unlike state roads, some county roads do not have RPMs installed. The researchers found that county roads with RPMs had a 19 percent lower crash rate than county roads without RPMs. The most significant decreases in crash rates occurred in nighttime, wet weather conditions, providing insight into the conditions that RPMs may be most effective.

In the lab luminance study, the team tested samples of new and used RPMs, along with alternatives such as wet pavement reflective tape and channel-mounted delineators to determine how far away drivers could see the markers in nighttime conditions. The average lifecycle for RPMs is 6 years, with a maintenance cycle of 2-3 years. Used RPMs showed a 20-30 percent decrease in luminance than new RPMs, but that did not translate to decreased visual performance.

Finally, the team created a computer-aided decision support tool to evaluate and compare the life cycle cost of RPMs and alternatives, based on specific operational characteristics. Decision-makers can couple information on safety benefits for each device with the total cost for per unit crash reduction from the tool to compare the value of the investment. The tool accounts for installation cost, traffic control cost, traffic delay cost, inspection cost, maintenance and repair cost, as well as the liability cost associated with incidents due to damaged RPMs or alternatives.

The research team also suggested several areas for future study for advancing NJDOT’s understanding of RPMs and their alternatives. The researchers recommended a study of optimal spacing or degree of continuous delineation that drivers need for safety. In the luminance study, all the devices had high visual performance despite variance in luminance when tested at a 100-meter viewing distance. However, the researchers noted, additional study was needed to see how the differences in luminance could affect visual performance at the threshold visibility distance (when the devices can be first seen). The results could help identify which device gives drivers more time and distance, resulting in potential reduction in nighttime crashes.

Rumble Strips. Photo Source: FHWA.

Lastly, one of the alternatives frequently mentioned throughout the study is rumble strips, which are used on roadways to create a noise and vibration to alert a driver when they leave their lane. When painted with retroflective coating to increase visibility, they are called rumble stripes (FHWA 2019). The researchers explained that rumble strips have not been studied in regard to safety effectiveness in New Jersey due to data limitations, making it a potential future research area.

New Jersey is in a unique position compared to other states with its comprehensive use of RPMs on state roadways. The researchers were able to provide valuable information to NJDOT, including a methodological framework for the department moving forward to quantify the safety effectiveness of RPMs and their alternatives and a computer-aided decision support tool to estimate life cycle cost. With this information and targeted areas for future research, NJDOT can aim to make cost-effective investments that will improve roadway safety.

Resources:

FHWA. “Rumble Strips and Rumble Stripes.” FHWA. April 1, 2019. https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/pavement/rumble_strips/general-information.cfm.

“Lighting Design Glossary.” Lighting Design and Simulation Knowledgebase. https://www.schorsch.com/en/kbase/glossary/luminance.html.

Liu, Xiang, John Bullough, Liwen Tian, Shan Jiang, and Mohsen Jafari. Evaluation of Raised Pavement Markers, Final Report. July 2018.
https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/FHWA-NJ-2018-004.pdf

Liu, Xiang, John Bullough, Liwen Tian, Shan Jiang, and Mohsen Jafari. “Technical Brief: Evaluation of Raised Pavement Markers.” July 2018.
https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/FHWA-NJ-2018-004-TB.pdf