Pavement Preservation Treatments at NJDOT

NJDOT's Pavement and Drainage Management and Technology Unit is advancing the use of Pavement Preservation treatments on the state's roads to increase safety, enhance durability, improve customer experience and minimize costs. Pavement rehabilitation is needed for deficient roadways, but pavement preservation can extend pavement life for state highways in good and fair condition. 

Watch this educational video to learn more about the Pavement Preservation program at NJDOT and the tools in the pavement preservation toolbox. The video explains the rationale for maintaining roads in a state of good repair and establishing a dedicated program for pavement preservation. The video highlights several pavement preservation treatments in the NJDOT toolbox and how, when and why the treatments are used.

How New Jersey is Using Funds from the Volkswagen Settlement to Expand Clean Transportation Infrastructure

In January 2020, the State of NJ’s Energy Master Plan (EMP) was released which communicates the state’s aim to achieve 100 percent clean energy, defined as “carbon-neutral electricity generation,” by 2050. The plan provides a roadmap of seven key strategies to achieve this goal across a range of state agencies that include the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU), the Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA), the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL), the Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), and NJ TRANSIT. The EMP focuses heavily on the transportation sector as it is the state’s largest source of net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 42 percent.

Strategic Mapping For Electric Vehicle DC Fast Charging Station Locations. Photo Source: NJDEP, 2020.

Strategic Mapping For Electric Vehicle DC Fast Charging Station Locations. Photo Source: NJDEP, 2020.

As the state works to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust has provided a key source of early funding. In fall 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) alleged that Volkswagen had secretly installed defeat devices in select Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche-branded turbocharged direct injection diesel vehicles. The default devices had software that was specifically designed to cheat federal and state regulator emission tests. This resulted in vehicles with the devices emitting pollutant oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at up to 40 times the limit set by USEPA. NOx contributes to the materialization of ground level ozone which in turn causes harm to the respiratory system and cardiovascular health. Following this allegation, two Partial Consent Decrees were approved by the United States, California, and the defendants which formed an Environmental Mitigation Trust that provided funds to the 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and federally recognized tribes to counteract the negative impacts of the excess NOx emissions. Of the approximately $3 billion settlement, New Jersey was allocated $72.2 million, based on a calculation of the number of affected vehicles in the state, according to the state’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

The Beneficiary Mitigation Plan states that 80 percent of the funds must be spent by October 2027, ten years after the Trust Effective Date, with five additional years for the remaining 20 percent if necessary. The settlement agreement outlines nine categories of eligible projects, which can be found here on NJDEP’s FAQ page. Additionally, the settlement allows for up to 15 percent of the funding to be used for light duty zero emission vehicle fueling and charging infrastructure. In support of the state’s target to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050, New Jersey’s goals for the mitigation funds are to reduce NOx, benefit communities disproportionately impacted by emissions, and support the expansion of zero emission vehicle adoption across the state. Additionally, NJDEP has a strong interest in pilot projects that help increase access to electric transportation modes such as bus transit or ride share in disproportionately impacted communities.

NJDEP is the lead agency assigned to prepare the state’s Mitigation Plan and authorize funds for approved projects with assistance from NJDOT, NJBPU, and NJ TRANSIT. According to Peg Hanna, Assistant Director of Air Monitoring and Mobile Sources at NJDEP and the lead for the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust at the agency, most states have appointed their environmental agency as the lead, with a few appointing their energy agency or governor’s office instead. Additionally, partner organizations outside the government include electric vehicle (EV) charging/fueling infrastructure providers, EV manufacturers, trade associations, and Environmental Justice (EJ) organizations.

Environmental Justice is a core component of the state’s goals in distributing the mitigation trust funds. Ms. Hanna explained that the primary way NJDEP has engaged with stakeholders in the EJ community is the agency’s EJ Advisory Council, using their meetings and subgroups to inform and seek feedback on the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust.

Currently, EJ communities are identified at the agency using several criteria, including whether it is an urban area, if it is a low- or moderate-income community, and whether it has been disproportionately impacted by air pollution. She mentioned this approach could change in the near-future with current state legislation S232, which would require NJDEP to evaluate environmental and public health impacts when reviewing permits for certain projects in overburdened communities. The bill provides a precise definition of an overburdened community which includes: 35 percent of the households qualify as low-income according to the U.S. Census, 40 percent of households are minority, or 40 percent of households have limited English proficiency. This definition is expected to be helpful moving forward to provide a clear map and list of municipalities that meet these criteria.

NJ VW Mitigation Trust Phase 1 Awards Map. Photo Source: NJDEP, 2020.

NJ VW Mitigation Trust Phase 1 Awards Map. Photo Source: NJDEP, 2020.

So far, NJDEP has allocated Volkswagen Mitigation Trust funding through two rounds in 2019, for a total of $27.2 million. In February 2019, the agency announced that $8 million would be used to purchase 8 new electric NJ Transit buses for the City of Camden and $3.2 million in grants were awarded for roughly 827 charging outlets at 533 charging stations across the state, which more than doubles the number of non-residential charging outlets across New Jersey.

The funding to expand chargers is distributed under NJDEP’s It Pay$ to Plug In grant program which aims to expand the state’s network of electric vehicle infrastructure in order to encourage residents, businesses, and government agencies to purchase electric vehicles.

A second round of funding was awarded in June 2019, when NJDEP announced $16 million would fund electric heavy-duty garbage trucks, school buses, and port-related vehicles. In the press release, NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said “The projects to be funded by this second round of grants will improve air quality in environmental justice communities that have for too long have had to bear a disproportionate burden of air pollution and its health consequences.” A breakdown of the projects awarded and dollar amounts disbursed so far can be found here.

Reflecting on these first two rounds of funding, NJDEP’s Peg Hanna saw the breadth of awardee projects which ranged from school buses to charging infrastructure as a positive, since it would help provide a range of information and lessons learned across different sectors. In contrast, some of the other states had plans focused solely on one type of transportation. For example, in Washington and Rhode Island, both states chose to spend their full amount on electric buses and charging infrastructure.

Currently, NJDEP is soliciting project proposals to allocate the remaining funding, with the application deadline on July 22. Of the remaining funds, $37.2 million will be used to convert old diesel trucks, buses, port equipment, marine vessels, and trains to electric power and $7.6 million will be allocated to charging infrastructure with priority for fast charging stations. Expanding fast charging infrastructure is supported by legislation signed into law in January 2020 which aimed to address “range anxiety” by expanding the network of electric vehicle chargers across the state. Additionally, this round of funding has a special project solicitation form for eMobility projects, which would expand electric car sharing or ride hailing in low and moderate income communities that have been disproportionally impacted by air pollution.

As New Jersey works towards the goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050 as outlined in the Energy Master Plan, the VW Mitigation Trust serves as a key source of funding to help achieve this and address the large impact the transportation sector has on air pollution in the state.


Resources

Lamb, E. (2020, January 17). New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Signs Electric Vehicle Law. Transport Topics. https://www.ttnews.com/articles/new-jersey-gov-phil-murphy-signs-electric-vehicle-law.

Lanning, Z. (2019, March 1). State announces plans for first round of Volkswagen settlement funds. NJTV News. https://www.njtvonline.org/news/uncategorized/state-announces-plans-for-first-round-of-vw-settlement-funds/.

NJ Office of the Governor. (2020, January 27). Governor Murphy Unveils Energy Master Plan and Signs Executive Order Directing Sweeping Regulatory Reform to Reduce Emissions and Adapt to Climate Change. https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200127a.shtml.

NJ Office of the Governor. (2020, June 19). Governor Murphy Announces Support for Key Environmental Justice Legislation. https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200619b.shtml.

NJDEP. (2018, December 13). State of New Jersey Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust. https://www.state.nj.us/dep/vw/BMPfinal.pdf.

NJDEP. (2019, June). NJDEP to Use First Round of Volkswagen Settlement Funds for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. https://www.state.nj.us/dep/vw/phase1list.pdf.

NJDEP. (2020, June 15). Volkswagen Settlement Information. https://www.state.nj.us/dep/vw/.

NJDEP. (2020, July 1). Drive Green. https://www.drivegreen.nj.gov/plugin.html.

U.S. PIRG. (2019, May). Volkswagen Settlement State Scorecard. https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/USP%20VW%20Scorecard%20May19.pdf.

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/new-jersey-gov-phil-murphy-signs-electric-vehicle-law

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3. Routes 55 & 47 were surveyed using a mobile unit which produces an enormous number of accurate and precise points (approximately ¼” inches apart for about 2 miles) for this bridge replacement project.

NJDOT Tech Transfer Innovation Interview: 3D Reality Modeling

In prior rounds of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sought to raise awareness and encourage the general education of transportation professionals in the uses of 3D models in all phases of project delivery, including the areas of planning, data collection and management, design, construction, operations and maintenance of highway facilities.  EDC-2 emphasized 3D engineered models for design and construction, while EDC-3 promoted the broader use of 3D models and digital data to further advance other application areas.

To find out a little more on what NJDOT has been doing to advance 3D modeling, we conducted an interview with Jim Coyle, a Geodetic Survey SME at NJDOT.  He is the supervisor of a relatively new unit, the Bureau of Survey Support that is working to deploy new technologies including the in-house integration of Lidar and software to create surveys from point clouds. The 3D modeling group within Survey Support is staffed with four individuals.  Below is an edited summary of our interview and follow-up discussion.

Q. What is meant by 3D Reality Modeling?

Reality modeling is the process of capturing the physical reality of an infrastructure asset, creating a representation of it, and maintaining it through surveys. Reality modeling gathers existing conditions in 3D using one or more devices—for example, cameras on drones, handheld camera, laser scanner, phones—to support mapping, design, construction, inspection and asset management.

At the foundational level, we start by establishing a 3D topographic map of the “existing world.” Other disciplines create their models, often using the 3D topo as a starting point or “designed-on-this-backdrop” model.

It’s handy to keep in mind that there are different definitions, references and standards in the usage of the term “modeling.” It depends on the discipline and who is supposed to make what deliverable or standard file type, but the backbone definition is obvious: an image speaks a thousand words.

Q. What is being done at NJDOT with 3-D reality modeling? What are typical use cases at NJDOT?

NJDOT is ahead of the curve in the use of mass data collection systems to create a visual model of existing conditions that planners can work within. We create this world using Lidar or reality capture through photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry is the process of capturing images of an object from many different angles and using these images to create three dimensional models, indexing and matching common features in each image. It is the science of making measurements from photographs. Lidar, or light detection and ranging, is a process whereby laser scanning produces accurate three-dimensional representations of elevations.

At NJDOT, we have used ContextCapture, a reality modeling software to create a 3D reality mesh. A reality mesh is a 3D model of real-world conditions that contains large amounts of triangles and image data that can be geospatially referenced. We coordinated with our Bureau of Aeronautics to fly a drone with a camera to do the data capture. Basically, the drone flies in a grid pattern taking a large number of overlapping pictures which can be plugged into software to create a 3D reality model. We used it to estimate the amount of dredging material for a project in Cape May as well as for a project at Route 29 and Duck Island (see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. Route 29 & Duck Island Landfill. Requested by Environmental for 2D topographical purposes. The most cost-efficient method to fulfill the original 50+ acre objective was to fly the area with a photographic drone and create a model from the photos (Flown by the NJDOT Aeronautics Unit). Shown above are 2 views of the resulting 3D model.

Figure 1. ROUTE 29 & DUCK ISLAND LANDFILL. Requested by Environmental for 2D topographical purposes. The most cost-efficient method to fulfill the original 50+ acre objective was to fly the area with a photographic drone and create a model from the photos (Flown by the NJDOT Aeronautics Unit). Shown above are 2 views of the resulting 3D model.

There are different ways to collect laser scanning data such as through a drone, on a vehicle, or from the side of the road. NJDOT has purchased a static laser scanner that can be placed on the side of the road to collect point cloud data. It works a lot like a typical survey unit with control targets. We have used software, TopoDot, that puts in lines and features that creates the topographic layer and the digital terrain model, or DTM, surface file. We have done multiple projects with our static laser scanner.

Figure 2. Route 29 & Duck Island Landfill. Shown here is a contoured elevation heatmap. The model that was created is 3D by default, so creating this view is extremely easy to do. The model shows little erosion along the top and steep sides. Inasmuch as the model is both precise and accurately geo-located, future surveyed models of this ecologically sensitive area can easily be compared to this model.

Figure 2. ROUTE 29 & DUCK ISLAND LANDFILL. Shown here is a contoured elevation heatmap. The model that was created is 3D by default, so creating this view is extremely easy to do. The model shows little erosion along the top and steep sides. Inasmuch as the model is both precise and accurately geo-located, future surveyed models of this ecologically sensitive area can easily be compared to this model.

For larger projects, such as for roadway segments of two or three miles, a mobile scanner is needed. At present, NJDOT lacks a mobile scanner so this work has been outsourced to consultants. NJDOT has piloted the mobile scanning process, and we just used it for a bridge replacement project for the Route 55 Bridge over Route 47. The survey resulting from this mobile scanning is being used to support the design phase (see Figures 3 through 6).

The good thing about doing a laser scanner survey is that we get information from the surface all the way up—from signal heads to overhead wires. Normally, you do not deliver that for the survey work, but if the engineer later needs additional information you do not need to go back into the field with supplemental surveys. You can see that this can offer benefits in terms of safety, cost-savings and other efficiencies.

Traditionally, NJDOT did not have staff of photogrammetrists so the agency had to outsource to consultants all of its mapping. Now with this LIDAR technology, NJDOT is able to use the raw point cloud data (still collected by the consultant in the case of mobile scanning) to do the survey mapping in-house which appears to offer cost-savings.

Figure 3. Routes 55 & 47 were surveyed using a mobile unit which produces an enormous number of accurate and precise points (approximately ¼” inches apart for about 2 miles) for this bridge replacement project.

Figure 3. ROUTES 55 & 47 POINT CLOUD MODEL. Routes 55 & 47 were surveyed using a mobile unit which produces an enormous number of accurate and precise points (approximately ¼” inches apart for about 2 miles) for this bridge replacement project.

Q. Who will make use of 3-D Modeling in the future?

Everybody, but for this discussion we will focus on transportation, including planning, construction and maintenance of transportation systems.

3D models of transportation systems will enable planners to get a real world, spatially accurate, view of preexisting roadway features. 3D models are the foundation for 4D simulation models. For example, proposed traffic patterns and sight distances can be simulated visually. It is possible to lay down concept plans within this visual model essentially bringing the real world into your computer.

Designing in 3D is really a new paradigm. The combination of 3D modeling and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) will allow construction crews to use Automated Machine Guidance (AMG) to complete projects faster and with improved quality and safety. GPS-enabled construction equipment can run virtually non-stop with guidance from 3D model data and achieve precise grades on the first pass. GPS rovers can be used to spot check elevations and horizontal offsets. Traditional 2D methods rely on grade stakes and 2D paper plan sheets.

Figure 4. Switching the “view mode” of a point cloud is just a click. These views show the point cloud in contour mode (0.1 contours) and deviation from a plane mode.

Figure 4. ROUTES 55 & 47 POINT CLOUD MODEL. Switching the “view mode” of a point cloud is just a click. These views show the point cloud in contour mode (0.1 contours) and deviation from a plane mode.

The 3D model can be updated with as-built location data throughout the construction process. After construction, the 3D model becomes the record drawing. The 3D model will have useful benefits as a base map for future maintenance and can be stored in a GIS database for asset management.

Q. How does 3D reality modeling benefit the agency’s various operations?

Having all design elements in 3D improves accuracy and decreases unintended occurrences. Design conflicts become much more apparent.

It is also easier for each discipline to identify how they fit into the project as a whole. This understanding allows for efficient conflict resolution during design and an improved product that should be much easier to construct.

Figure 5. Low Cost As-Builts. In this view (RGB/real color mode) of the Route 55NB to Route 47 NB Ramp nose, assets such as signs, inlets, junction boxes, guide rail and post, striping, etc. are documented with true mapping grade 3D coordinates. The density of point cloud (approx. 4 to 5 mm apart) can be seen near the inlet/curb in the lower left.

Figure 5. ROUTES 55 & 47 POINT CLOUD MODEL. Low Cost As-Builts. In this view (RGB/real color mode) of the Route 55NB to Route 47 NB Ramp nose, assets such as signs, inlets, junction boxes, guide rail and post, striping, etc. are documented with true mapping grade 3D coordinates. The density of point cloud (approx. 4 to 5 mm apart) can be seen near the inlet/curb in the lower left.

With an engineered 3D model, everyone can see a lifelike representation of what the finished project will look like. These 3D project files can be uploaded anywhere, which means everyone—even those without a technical background—can quickly get up to speed around a project’s concept. The emphasis on 3D-driven design offers new ways of easily communicating information with clients and the public; from 3D KMZ files that can be viewed in Google Earth to full virtual reality (VR) tours of a virtual corridor; the final product has never been easier to visualize.

When a project is presented to the public in 3D, stakeholders quickly have a comprehensive understanding of what is occurring by seeing the depth and details they will ultimately see once the project is constructed.

Figure 6. Measuring and calculating bridge clearances takes seconds when using a 3D point cloud model, and no one had to step into the road to do it.

Figure 6. ROUTES 55 & 47 POINT CLOUD MODEL. Measuring and calculating bridge clearances takes seconds when using a 3D point cloud model, and no one had to step into the road to do it.

Q. What skills, knowledge and abilities are needed to advance the use of 3D reality modeling at NJDOT?

The skills required include an understanding of surveying general principles. There is a need for surveyors and technicians with the ability to interpret and render 3D data including data capture, registering, and creating the point cloud, and familiarity with MicroStation/CADD and TopoDOT software. Folks need to be comfortable working with computers and CADD.

Q. What tools, equipment, or techniques are being used by the agency to advance modeling?

The Bureau of Survey Support is currently working with Static/Mobile Lidar scanners, cameras, drones as well as traditional survey equipment and various software (Bentley/Leica Suite products). As I’ve mentioned, we are exploring how to use these products for projects in-house and in collaboration with our consultants where we may not have the scanning equipment.

The future is in 3D design. NJDOT Design is in the process of upgrading the Bentley CAD suite of software including OpenRoads Designer and OpenBridge Designer. NJDOT should have the tools within six months or a year. Following training, I anticipate that NJDOT will be designing with 3D within two to three years.

Resources

FHWA. (2017). 3D Engineered Models. Retrieved from: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/3d/

 

Development of Real-Time Traffic Signal Performance Measurement System

Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT) is a smart traffic signal technology that adjusts timing of traffic signals to accommodate changing traffic patterns and reduce congestion. NJDOT recently deployed this technology in select corridors and required a set of metrics to gauge functionality and effectiveness in easing traffic congestion and reliability. However, the monitoring and assessment of the ASCT performance at arterial corridors has been a time-consuming process.

The Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures system (ATSPMs) developed by Utah DOT is one of the widely-used platforms for traffic signal performance monitoring with a large suite of performance metrics. One limitation of the existing ATSPM platform is its dependency on high-resolution controllers and the need to set up hardware and software at each individual intersection. Upgrading the existing controllers and reconfiguring the hardware and software at each intersection requires significant investment of funding and labor hours.

Recently completed research funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Research mobilized researchers from Rutgers University, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), and Rowan University to assist in advancing the goal of establishing automated traffic signal performance measures. The goals of the needed research were to develop a prototype Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures platform for ASCT systems. The main focus was how to take advantage of the centrally-stored signal event and detector data of ASCT systems to generate the ATSPM performance metrics without intersection-level hardware or software deployment.

The study’s primary objectives were to examine: 1) how to utilize existing field data and equipment to establish Signal Performance Measures (SPMs) for real-time monitoring; and 2) identify what additional data and equipment may be employed to generate additional SPMs while automating the real-time traffic signal monitoring process. This research is especially important for New Jersey (NJ) with the deployment of ATSPM and the establishment of NJDOT’s Arterial Management Center (AMC).

Background

At present, NJDOT maintains a traffic signal system comprised of many types of equipment that affect signal performance, including different signal configurations and vehicle detection devices. Older equipment and ineffective detection technologies make real-time traffic signal monitoring quite difficult to implement across the state. With the implementation of more centrally-controlled traffic signal systems and the Department’s Arterial Management Center (the central control for remotely monitoring these signals) coming online, NJDOT needed standards to assure that the signals would operate properly and ease traffic congestion, and that the signals could be monitored remotely in real-time effectively.

ATSPMs are promoted by FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) as an EDC-4 (Every Day Counts 4) initiative. The use of ATSPMs has important foreseeable benefits:

  • Increased Safety. A shift to proactive operations and maintenance practices can improve safety by reducing the traffic congestion that results from poor and outdated signal timing.
  • Targeted Maintenance. ATSPMs provide the actionable information needed to deliver high-quality service to customers, with significant cost savings to agencies.
  • Improved Operations. Active monitoring of signalized intersection performance lets agencies address problems before they become complaints.
  • Improved Traffic Signal Timing and Optimization Policies. Agencies are able to adjust traffic signal timing parameters based on quantitative data without requiring a robust data collection and modeling process.
Research Approach

The research team recognized that the deployment of various adaptive traffic control systems such as InSync and SCATS systems on major NJ corridors and networks improved the capability for building real-time performance measures. The study included: a review of the literature and best practices; several stakeholder meetings; and recommendations and development of performance metrics, system architectures, data management, and strategies for deploying ATSPM systems using existing and planned NJDOT arterial infrastructure and technologies.

Figure 1: An Example real-time performance monitoring on County Road 541 and Irwick Road, Burlington County, NJ

Figure 1. An Example real-time performance monitoring on County Road 541 and Irwick Road, Burlington County, NJ

The researchers first conducted a literature review to identify examples of existing Signal Performance Measurement (SPM) systems to help inform the development of ATSPMs. The researchers described several exemplary initiatives, including the following:

  • In 2013, the Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) SPM Platform was named an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovation Initiative. Deployed across the state, the system allows UDOT to monitor and manage signal operations for all signals maintained by the agency while aiding in more efficient travel flows along corridors.
  • From 2006 to 2013, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), with Purdue University, established a testbed of signal performance measures. INDOT developed a common platform for collecting real-time signal data, which became the foundation for AASHTO’s Innovation Initiative on Signal Performance Measures. This performance system has now been deployed at more than 3,000 intersections across the country.
  • Researchers at The College of New Jersey have established a signal performance measurements testbed using Burlington County’s centralized traffic signal management system. Traffic signal data collected along County Route 541 has been used to generate real-time performance measures and identify infrastructure improvements that could advance NJDOT’s ability to use real-time SPMs. An example of the existing real-time performance monitoring for Irwick Road and CR541 in Westhampton, NJ in Burlington County is shown in Figure 1.
  • Many state or local agencies including Pennsylvania DOT, Michigan DOT, New Jersey DOT, Lake County (Illinois), and Maricopa County (Arizona), etc., are actively incorporating ATSPMs into their traffic management and operation strategies. Lessons learned from implementation of ATSPMs from different agencies revealed that ATSPMs are critical to ATCS.

The research team organized and facilitated targeted stakeholder meetings. These meetings confirmed that stakeholders were not currently able to perform efficient real-time post-processing of the existing available data.  Through the meetings, the research team was able to scope more deeply into the type of performance measurements that were feasible and what could be done with the collected information.  Stakeholders also conveyed that the total number of operating adaptive signal intersections would more than double in the near-term future, making the need to efficiently process and leverage data from adaptive systems a more pressing concern. The discussions further confirmed that the big question for study was how to best leverage these adaptive systems to evaluate and manage future corridors.

Figure 2. Corridors where NJDOT has deployed ASCT systems; red denotes full operation, yellow denotes under construction, and blue denotes concept development

Figure 2. Corridors where NJDOT has deployed ASCT systems; red denotes full operation, yellow denotes under construction, and blue denotes concept development

The research team sought to better understand the inventory of NJDOT’s existing and planned ASCT systems. In 2019, New Jersey had over 2,500 NJDOT-maintained signals, but only 76 signals were on Adaptive Traffic Signal Systems.  In addition to the existing five corridors and the district in which ASCT systems had been deployed, 3 corridors were under construction and/or in final design and another 11 corridors were in the concept development phase for future ASCT installation at the time of the study (see Figure 2).

The research team visited the state’s Arterial Management Center (AMC) and investigated several signal performance systems – specifically, the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS), Rhythm Engineering’s InSync, and the Transportation Operations Coordinating Committee’s (TRANSCOM) real-time data feed – to better understand their interfaces, different types of detectors and their availability.

Figure 3. System Operation Data Flow Diagram

Figure 3. System Operation Data Flow Diagram

The research team designed an automated traffic signal performance measurement system (ATSPM) based on existing ATSPM open-source software to develop an economically justifiable ATSPM for arterial traffic management in New Jersey.  The entire system operates as shown in Figure 3. The high-resolution controller belonging to existing infrastructure is connected to an AMC at each signalized intersection. The controller event log file contains signal state data that is sent to an AMC database. The research team’s program automatically retrieves these data logs and translates the unprocessed data into a standard event code. The converted event file is inserted into an ATSPM database and the ATSPM software can generate signal performance metrics and produce visualizations to support performance-based maintenance and operations by traffic engineers.

Key Research and Implementation Activities

The research team successfully created a bench test of the ATSPM system based on data collected from high-resolution data from adaptive signal control systems including 13 SCATS locations on NJ Route 18 and 2 InSync locations on US Route 1. As a result of the testing, the research team successfully assembled a prototype for automated traffic signal performance measures in New Jersey.

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Key research activities from the project are as follows:

  • Create Inventory of Existing NJDOT Arterial Management System: The team investigated several signal performance systems including InSync, SCATS, and TRANSCOM fusion application interfaces and different types of detectors and their availability. The team also conducted intensive review of state-of-the-art-and-practice of ATSPM system and identified ways of migrating the system to NJ.
  • Identify Performance Metrics and Measurement Methods for NJDOT ATSPM System: The team conducted a comprehensive review of SPMs built into an ATSPM system. The team investigated and customized SPMs that can be generated by NJDOT detector and travel time data.
  • Develop System Architecture and Concept of Operations for NJDOT ATSPM System and Established a Bench Test of ATSPM Located on TCNJ’s Campus: To leverage the existing ATCS system, the team developed a signal event conversion program to translate existing SCATS and InSync history log file to an event code that can be recognized by ATSPM. The detailed metrics are summarized in the figures to the right.
  • Prepare Real-Time Traffic Signal Data Management Guidelines: The research team created data management guidelines and a manual for data processing. The team validated the outputs through a comprehensive process. The team also completed a test to automatically connect to an ATSPM database using a VPN and MSSQL database management system.
  • Develop Deployment Strategies Considering Existing, Planned, and Future Systems/ Conduct Case Studies of System Deployment: The team initiated the pulling of one-month of data into their platform for the ATSPM. Large scale deployment of this system was expected to be conducted as part of Phase II research.

The research team observed that ATSPMs have distinct advantages over traditional traffic signal monitoring and the accompanying management process. The systems help shorten feedback loops with easier data collection and signal performance comparisons to enable before and after timing adjustments.

Future Work

In the first phase of the research project, the research team developed a software toolbox, NJDOT ATSPM 1.0.  The toolbox can convert the event output data from SCATS and InSync ATSC Systems into event data that can be processed by the ATSPM platform. The primary accomplishment was to integrate ATSPMs with existing ATCS from the centralized management console, instead of configuring at each controlled intersection on field. The proposed system bridges the gap between increasingly deployed ATSC and emerging ATSPMs without investment on new controllers. The effect of this research was validated on two selected corridors. NJDOT arterial management operators are able to use the ATSPM platform to generate key performance metrics and conduct system analysis for NJDOT’s ATSC corridors.

While the initial deployment and analysis was successful, it was limited in its scope. Phase II of the research involves the development and deployment of a significantly-enhanced version of the original toolbox, NJDOT ATSPM 2.0, along with a pilot study on the integration of ATSC controllers with Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies.

The research team will work with NJDOT to identify and add new performance metrics to generate additional Signal Performance Measures. The team can incorporate proprietary data from traveler information providers (e.g. INRIX and HERE) to generate other performance metrics such as queue/wait time, degree of saturation, predicted volumes, etc., and incorporate them into the NJDOT ATSPM platform. The team will also conduct pilot testing on the integration of Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV), Roadside Units (RSU), On Board Unit (OBU) with the existing and planned NJDOT ATSC systems.

This developed ATSPM system from Phase II will bridge the gap between collected traffic data (e.g., signal controller data, detector data, and historical data) and needed performance information for decision-making. Phase II research is underway with an expected completion by November 2021.

Relationship to Strategic Goals

The development of RT-SPMs and the adapting and deployment of ATSPM with existing NJ ATSC systems is aligned with the FHWA EDC (Every Day Counts) Initiative to promote the rapid deployment of proven innovations. NJDOT ATSPM 2.0 will help meet the strategic EDC goal to accelerate the deployment of ATSPMs on existing and planned arterial corridors to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities, optimize mobility and enhance the quality of life.

The Phase II research supports the state initiative on advancing policy and testing of CAV technologies in New Jersey. The outcome of the project will be reported to NJDOT which is part of the New Jersey Advanced Autonomous Vehicle Task Force to make recommendations on laws, regulations and guidance to safely integrate advanced autonomous vehicle testing on the State’s highways, streets, and roads.


Resources

McVeigh, Kelly. (2019). Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures.  Presentation at NJ STIC May 7th, 2019 Meeting.

Jin, P. J., Zhang, T., Brennan Jr, T. M., & Jalayer, M. (2019). Real-Time Signal Performance Measurement (RT-SPM) (No. FHWA NJ-2019-002).  Retrieved at: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/FHWA-NJ-2019-002.pdf

Jin, P. J., Zhang, T., Brennan Jr, T. M., & Jalayer, M. (2019). Real-Time Signal Performance Measurement (RT-SPM) – Technical Brief Retrieved at: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/FHWA-NJ-2019-002-TBrev.pdf

Zhang T., Jin P., Brennan, T., McVeigh, K. and Jalayer, M, Automating the Traffic Signal Performance Measures for Adaptive Traffic Signal Control System. ITS World Congress. 2020.

Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: Evaluation of Precast Concrete Pavement Systems and State Specifications

On June 10, 2020, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! Webinar on “Evaluation of Precast Concrete Pavement Systems and State Specifications.” Dr. Yusuf Mehta, Director of Rowan University’s Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATEs), introduced the presentation and acknowledged the contributions of individuals and other state DOTs to the research effort.  Dr. Daniel Offenbacker began the presentation with a description of the research study performed for NJDOT to identify, evaluate, and compare precast pavement systems, specifications, and practices currently in use for Precast Concrete Pavement (PCP). The study included an extensive literature review and surveys with Subject Matter Experts from various state DOTs that have experience with precast concrete pavement rehabilitations.

Dr. Offenbacker discussed the benefits and drawbacks of Precast Concrete Pavements.

Rigid pavements play an important role in highway infrastructure, primarily in regions with high traffic density such as New Jersey. NJDOT is continuously exploring innovative pavement rehabilitation strategies, such as Precast Concrete Pavement (PCP), that allow for faster and more durable rehabilitation of rigid pavements. Precast concrete is cast off-site to specifications and installed to match a particular location. Dr Offenbacker noted the benefits of precast concrete systems including quick installation that limits the duration of road closure and requires minimal interaction with drivers. The material is durable and long-lasting. Drawbacks include the high cost, challenges to installation requiring tight specifications, and limited capability among contractors and systems.

The researchers surveyed 17 states and followed up with 8 states that are using PCP systems. Other states shared experiences with systems in use, standards for manufacture and installation, permitting of new systems, and experiences with installation and performance. Eight different state specifications were identified that addressed panel fabrication, bedding and grout stabilization, installation tolerances, and encasement grout.

The research led to the conclusion that installation is critical to PCP performance. Failure is generally due to misalignment or poor leveling. Dr. Offenbacker described a proposed five-step system approval process to be used in New Jersey for acceptance of newly-developed precast pavements. The approval system included materials and slab approval, demonstration of system installation, and proof of performance. Recommendations included use of documented experiences from other states in establishing specifications and exploring development of a generic PCP system for New Jersey.

The research resulted in recommendations for a Precast Concrete Pavement approval process for use in New Jersey

Dr. Offenbacker noted the need for future work to investigate the long-term performance of PCP systems, to prepare a life cycle cost analysis to quantify the economic benefits, to assess the usefulness of intermittent precast systems in light of surrounding pavement deterioration, and to develop a training platform for contractors to insure proper installation.

Following the presentation, participants posed questions via the chat feature. Responding to a question about the use of planar vs. non-planar slabs, Dr. Offenbacker noted that the existing conditions of the roadway would determine which slab would be used to match the existing structure.

A participant asked if there was any criteria for choosing between rapid-set concrete and PCP. Dr. Offenbacker responded that there was no criteria yet for when one would choose one over the other.

A participant asked what Dr. Offenbacker considered the key takeaway from the surveys. He responded that installation was the key consideration. He emphasized the need to understand the economic benefits of PCP, which are starting to outweigh the benefits of other rehab techniques such as rapid-set.

In response to a question about training needed, Dr. Offenbacker noted that training is needed in the specific systems. California requires each contractor to go through a certification process if they want to use precast pavement systems on a regular basis.

A participant asked if deterioration of slabs adjacent to a replacement slab was due to the replacement slab. Dr. Offenbacker replied that the replacement slab would not cause deterioration if installed properly. The roadway may be deteriorating incrementally.

A participant asked if the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided input on QA/QC for underslab grouting and grouting dowel bar slots. Dr. Offenbacker responded that there are thorough specifications for these elements and they are available in the final report.

In response to a question about whether there is a maximum and minimum size for PCPs and how that correlates to performance, Dr. Offenbacker noted that this has not been explored well yet. The typical length is 15 feet.

The presentation given by Dr. Mehta and Dr. Offenbacker can be downloaded here.

A recording of the presentation is also available here (or see right).

For more information about the research study, please access the final report and technical brief here.

For more information about research at Rowan University’s CREATES, click here.

Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: Dredging, Dredged Material Management and the NJ Marine Transportation System

On May 12, 2020, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! Webinar on “Dredging, Dredged Material Management and the New Jersey Marine Transportation System.” W. Scott Douglas, Dredging Program Manager in NJDOT’s Office of Maritime Resources (OMR), discussed the dredging process, management of dredged material, OMR’s asset management system, and dredging case studies.

Mr. Douglas discussed the extent of New Jersey’s Marine Transportation System, and its significance to the local, and larger economy.

Mr. Douglas described the New Jersey Marine Transportation System (MTS) that includes all infrastructure and equipment that connects land-based transportation assets to navigable water. The MTS supports a $50 billion industry that encompasses international and domestic freight, commercial fishing, recreational boating, travel and tourism, marine trades and ferries. NJDOT is directly responsible for maintaining some 200 of the 600 nautical miles of engineered waterways that provide safe navigation pathways to and from the shore-based infrastructure, and provides dredged material management services for another 150 nautical miles of Federal waterway. Since Superstorm Sandy, OMR is the State’s lead agency for these responsibilities, providing planning, design, procurement and construction services and coordinating the State’s waterway emergency response.

The system is divided into three regions: the New Jersey/New York Harbor (the third largest port in the country), the Delaware River, and the Atlantic Shore where NJDOT takes a larger role. Much of their work involves managing clean dredge materials in shallow draft areas where there is little land on which to place the dredged material. Mr. Douglas described the various aspects of the dredging process including bathymetric surveys, sediment sampling and analysis, and permitting, and went on to explain uses of dredged material.

As a natural part of the aquatic ecosystem, sediment is a resource. The Office of Maritime Resources works to reuse the material in various ways depending on the nature and composition of the sediment. Mr. Douglas offered several examples of reuse such as construction fill, beach replenishment, landfill capping, and brownfield redevelopment. The OMR is exploring the use of sediment to increase shoreline resiliency through marsh and dune restoration and other shoreline stabilization techniques, island creation, dredged hole replacement, and habitat creation.

The talk highlighted several facets of collecting, tracking, and dispersing dredged materials.

Mr. Douglas discussed his agency’s Maritime Asset Management tools developed to evaluate cost, conditions, and to help prioritize the Office’s work. Their Waterway Linear Segmentation database, comparable to the roadway Straight Line Diagrams, is a first in the nation for maritime asset management. OMR is assembling a dredged material database. Deployment of these tools is anticipated later this year. OMR’s Maritime Asset Management Systems comprises these two tools and produces plans based on current and future conditions, cost, and availability of dredge system management. The output is similar to the asset management reports used by highway and bridge engineers to assist management in decisionmaking.

Successes of the state’s channel dredging program include 54 channels cleared and 45 nautical miles of waterway opened. Mr. Douglas highlighted three dredging case studies including projects in the Port Jersey Channel, Shark River, and Upper Barnegat Bay. In 2020, OMR has four ongoing projects and four planned projects to open a total of 25 channels.

Participants posed questions via the Q&A feature. Mr. Douglas was asked what quality controls are in place before dredged material is moved. He noted that New Jersey has one of the most stringent systems in place in the country. NJDEP has a list of contaminants related to locations. They test both the sediment before it is moved, and the water, and a mixture of sediment water. If the material is stabilized and placed upland, it is exposed to lab testing and leachate tests on site. Another participant asked if dredging stirs up contaminants. Mr. Douglas replied that it can, and that the rigorous testing is designed to address the possibility. He noted the distinction between navigation dredging to clear a channel and environmental dredging conducted to clean contaminants from a waterway.

In response to a question concerning locations of island creation, Mr. Douglas stated that a group led by the US Fish & Wildlife Service is looking into potentially creating islands in Barnegat Bay.

A participant asked if dredged material could be used in new embankments and walls that NJDOT is building throughout the state. Mr. Douglas responded that the biggest barrier is cost. Straight fill is less expensive and easier to schedule; timing of highway projects with maritime projects has been difficult.

A participant wondered how the required dredge depth is verified once it is completed? Dredge depth is determined before dredging begins. Generally, channel depth has been determined for the entire state. Usually the depth changes only if conditions change, such as would be required with the introduction of larger vessels needing access to ports.

In response to a question concerning work continuing during the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr. Douglas noted that work is continuing and inspectors are on site every day following appropriate and requisite protocols.

The presentation given by Mr. Douglas can be downloaded here.

A recording of the webinar is also available (see right).

NJ STIC 2020 Spring Meeting

NJ STIC’s first virtual meeting on May 6, 2020

NJ STIC’s first virtual meeting on May 6, 2020

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) Spring 2020 Meeting focused on the EDC-5 Innovative Initiative Virtual Public Involvement. The topic was appropriate to the times as STIC members gathered for the group’s first virtual meeting in response to NJ Executive Order 107 in force during the COVID-19 pandemic. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the May 6, 2020 meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the meeting.

After his Welcome and Opening Remarks, Asst. Commissioner Michael Russo introduced NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti who emphasized the distinction between virtual meetings, public meetings, and public hearings. She noted that NJDOT’s work continues during the lockdown and the agency will be instrumental in helping the state get back on its feet once re-opening begins. Division Administrator for the FHWA NJ Office, Robert Clark, and Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research, rounded out the Welcome and Opening Remarks setting the stage for primary focus of the Spring Quarterly STIC meeting on the implementation of Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) in everyday activities of transportation agencies.

Jill Stark from FHWA reviewed online tools to increase public involvement

Jill Stark from FHWA reviewed online tools to increase public involvement (click for presentation)

The meeting continued with presentations from representatives of FHWA, New Jersey’s three Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Monmouth County, Princeton and industry discussing how they have adapted to the need for virtual public meetings and the benefits and challenges associated with the transition to the online formats.

VPI Tools and Techniques - Jill Stark and Lana Lau from FHWA presented several resources, such as mobile apps, crowdsourcing tools, project visualizations, and online mapping, to enhance public involvement and offered several examples of their use in other state transportation agencies. Ms. Stark noted that virtual public involvement will not replace in-person meetings but can supplement traditional engagement activities.

DVRPC used the chat feature during the board meeting to take public comment (click for presentation)

DVRPC used the chat feature during the board meeting to take public comment (click for presentation)

During their talk, the FHWA identified several resources, including webinars and fact sheets, available on Virtual Public Involvement. The agency is also creating videos that highlight innovative and virtual public engagement strategies in use in state and local transportation agencies. An article on the videos, including the fact that NJDOT and NJTPA activities were featured examples, was a subject of recent post on the NJDOT Technology Transfer website.

MPO representatives reported on the need for quick technological transitions to remote work, experiences with online platforms, and related lessons learned.

NJTPA’s online survey was available in translation and participants could leave comments (click for presentation)

NJTPA’s online survey was available in translation and participants could leave comments (click for presentation)

DVRPC: Virtual Meeting Best Practices - Barry Seymour and Alison Hastings from DVRPC discussed increased public participation at their recent board meeting and the request for remote access to meetings going forward. Noting that reaching underserved communities just got harder, they emphasized features of their chosen meeting platform that increase accessibility, such as phone and computer audio, an app for cell phones, and closed captioning and audio channels for live translation.

Virtual Public Involvement - Mary Ameen and Melissa Hayes from NJTPA offered tips for online discussions, advocating for gearing the message to the audience, keeping meetings brief, providing multiple feedback options, and making the meeting mobile-friendly. Their Virtual Public Engagement Best Practices guidance is available online. They also offered examples from municipalities using online tools to reach their communities.

SJTPO is looking for alternatives methods of reaching populations lacking internet access (click for presentation)

SJTPO is looking for alternatives methods of reaching populations lacking internet access (click for presentation)

Virtual Outreach During COVID-19 in the SJTPO Region - Jennifer Marandino and Alan Huff from SJTPO spoke about the agency’s dive into the issue of limited access to online public involvement opportunities in low-income and minority communities. They have discovered areas in their region that require focused in-person public involvement. The agency is delaying public involvement on major issues and exploring alternative means for reaching the region’s population.

Monmouth County used a project website to inform the public and gather feedback (click for presentation)

Monmouth County used a project website to inform the public and gather feedback (click for presentation)

Monmouth County Bridge Replacement Projects: Virtual Public Meetings – County Engineer Joseph Ettore and Consultant Martine Culbertson spoke about the limitations of virtual meetings and the impact on project development on two Bridge Replacement Projects in Monmouth County. The speakers discussed design of a project website, the challenges of virtual public meetings, how to proceed when a project faces some local opposition, and the need to keep projects on track to retain funding.

Princeton used various methods to track and display feedback from public involvement activities (click for presentation)

Princeton used various methods to track and display feedback from public involvement activities (click for presentation)

Virtual Public Involvement: A Municipal Perspective - Deanna Stockton, Engineer for Princeton, discussed the challenges related to bid openings, and holding council, zoning board and planning board meetings, and shared some useful resources. She noted the need to meet MLUL requirements and deadlines associated with zoning and planning board project reviews and discussed the creation of permanent digital files.

Industry Presentation: Virtual Consultation Platform - The final presentation, from Orla Pease and Andy Thomas of AECOM, offered a STIC industry partner perspective, and highlighted a new online virtual meeting platform. The meeting closed with a brief question and answer session.

The Spring Quarterly STIC meeting offered an abundance of useful information, tips, and lessons learned related to virtual public involvement tools and strategies.


 

 

A recording of the NJ STIC Spring 2020 Meeting can be found here and to the right.

The NJ STIC Spring Virtual Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety and in sections below.

Click for entire presentation (10MB).
Virtual Meeting Best Practices by DVRPC
Monmouth County Bridge Replacement Project Virtual Public Meeting
Q&A and Thank You
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Virtual Public Engagement by NJTPA
Virtual Public Involvement: A Municipal Perspective
Presentation by FHWA
Virtual Outreach During COVID-19 in the SJTPO Region
Industry Presentation, Virtual Consultation Platform

Reducing Rural Road Departures: Upcoming FHWA Webinar and Other Resources Advance EDC-5 Initiative

FHWA Storyboard

On May 12, 2020, the Federal Highway Administration will host FoRRRwD on All Public Roads: Innovative Mechanisms to Deliver Safety Projects, the second of its monthly webinars designed to help reduce rural roadway departures and save lives. Reducing rural roadway departures is one of the ten initiatives addressed by the 5th round of its Every Day Counts program (EDC-5). The EDC program identifies and deploys proven innovations to save state departments of transportation time, money, and resources. This webinar is the latest FHWA offering of technical materials aimed at reducing roadway departures (see below). Other recent materials include:

  • A storyboard on horizontal curve warning signs. The storyboard demonstrates the effectiveness of low-cost solutions such as advance warning signs and curve chevrons to reduce crashes on curves, especially at night.
  • An informational video. Released in late March 2020, this video showcases the benefits of rumble strips in reducing road departures. The video notes that rumbles strips can reduce departure crashes by up to 50 percent. (Embed the video here)
  • An innovation spotlight video. This 2019 video highlights key countermeasures to prevent or reduce severity of crashes, and systemic analysis tools agencies can use to prioritize locations on a network with high risk for future crashes.

New Jersey has also been working to address this issue, using some of the methods listed above on rural roads across the state. This recent NJDOT Tech Transfer article highlights how Cumberland and Somerset Counties are reducing rural road departures along high risk portions of their networks.

FoRRRwD on All Public Roads: Innovative Mechanisms to Deliver Safety Projects

May 12, 2020
1-3 pm

Rural roadway departures make up a third of U.S. traffic fatalities—about 30 people a day. The Every Day Counts round five (EDC-5) initiative, Focus on Reducing Rural Roadway Departures (FoRRRwD), features four pillars: 1. Addressing All Public Roads, 2. Systemic Approach, 3. Safety Action Plans, and 4. Proven Countermeasures.

This webinar focuses on the first pillar. State, local, and tribal agencies come learn unique approaches and methods that you can use to efficiently deliver safety countermeasures and projects to reduce rural roadway departure crashes. Speakers and Topics to be covered include:

  • Steve Landry, Maine DOT, will discuss Maine DOT’s use of safety supply (Curve Warning Signs, RRFBs, Speed Feedback Signs) procurement projects where state procurement procedures are used, and local public agencies or State forces perform installation at their cost.
  • Mark Thomas, Mississippi DOT (MDOT), will discuss how agencies in Mississippi have used agency force account to deliver roadway departure countermeasures, and a program where MDOT provides warning and advisory signage to local governments to install.
  • Patricia Burke, Montana DOT (MDT), will discuss MDT’s use of Job Order Contracting to streamline the delivery of safety projects.

This webinar is free and open to anyone who is interested. Registration is limited to 500 seats.

Registration: Participants must register in advance at https://collaboration.fhwa.dot.gov/dot/fhwa/WC/Lists/Seminars/DispForm.aspx?ID=2260

Please Note: Non-USDOT employees who have never participated in an FHWA webinar must create an account at https://collaboration.fhwa.dot.gov/FBA/MembershipRequest.aspx in order to register for this webinar.

FHWA recommends using Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer for optimal registration experience.

FHWA’s Ray Murphy Presents EDC-5 Weather-Responsive Management Strategies

On April 14, 2020, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar on “EDC-5 Weather-Responsive Management Strategies.” This event featured a presentation by Ray Murphy, ITS Specialist with the FHWA’s Resource Center. Under Round 5 of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program, FHWA promotes Weather-Responsive Management Strategies (WRMS) to manage traffic and road maintenance during inclement weather to improve safety and reliability, and minimize environmental impacts associated with weather events. Weather affects: traffic safety, with 21 percent of the nearly 6 million roadway crashes in the past decade related to weather; mobility, resulting in reduced efficiency and productivity; and environmental impacts on watersheds, air quality, and infrastructure.

Mr. Murphy provided examples of weather responsive practices being tried by state DOTs, including an advanced traveler information notification deployed by Iowa DOT.

Mr. Murphy provided examples of weather responsive practices being tried by state DOTs, including an advanced traveler information notification deployed by Iowa DOT.

Mr. Murphy described the prior-round, EDC-4 innovation, Road Weather Management – Weather-Savvy Roads, that formed the basis for this EDC-5 initiative. The innovation promoted data collection including Pathfinder, a collaboration between the National Weather Service, state DOTs, and state support contractors to provide weather information and forecasts, and Integrating Mobile Observations (IMO) that collects weather and road condition data from instruments on agency fleet trucks.

Through WRMS, FHWA promotes the use of mobile data to support decision making. Benefits to agencies include improved safety, system performance and operations, and reduced costs and environmental impacts. Agencies can use Weather Responsive Management Systems to address diverse internal needs such as staffing, material use, and route optimization, and condition and performance reporting. Data sources include transportation agency fleets, private vehicles, third party entities, agency operators, road users and infrastructure. Some data is collected by in-vehicle sensors, video and camera images, and automatic vehicle location. Other data sources include fixed Roadway Information System (RWIS), National Weather Service, reports from road users and operators, mobile observations and connected vehicle data, among others.

The traveling public benefits through safer pre-trip and real-time route decision making based on enhanced traveler information, roadside messaging, variable speed limits, and road lane closures or restrictions. Unified, localized, and more accurate messaging gives the public increased confidence in the messaging and the agency.

Mr. Murphy addressed some common challenges that agencies face in adopting this innovation, such as a lack of connectivity in remote areas, the need for buy-in from agency leadership and from road crews, hesitance to adopt the innovation, and funding.

Mr. Murphy cited some of work that NJ DOT has accomplished in the field of Weather Responsive Management Strategies.

Mr. Murphy highlighted recent initiatives undertaken by NJDOT related to Weather Responsive Management Strategies that have been funded in part through FHWA innovation grants.

He noted that the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive Program and STIC Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) grants can help fund implementation of these technologies. NJDOT received a STIC incentive funding grant to support pilot testing of technology used by the Safety Service Patrols. NJDOT was also awarded an AID Grant from FHWA to support a weather savvy roads pilot program, installing video camera dashboards and sensors onto NJDOT maintenance trucks and safety service patrol vehicles to collect streaming video and weather / pavement information to support road weather management throughout the state.

Webinar participants had an opportunity to pose questions of Mr. Murphy. One participant asked about possible resistance to installation of automatic vehicle locators due to privacy concerns. Mr. Murphy noted that agencies must operate openly and inclusively when implementing this technology. Training and education can help users become more accepting of the technology.

A participant asked about the use of IMO data versus information gathered from a public entity such as WAZE. Mr. Murphy responded that the agency receives the IMO data directly and can oversee the accuracy of the data, but that information should come from multiple sources to create a robust dataset.

When asked what agencies consider the biggest challenges, and what arguments can be used to support this innovation, Mr. Murphy responded that funding is always a concern but that buy-in is often the larger issue. He emphasized the need for a champion who can demonstrate the benefits of the strategies through performance measures.

When asked if specific applications of WRMS were being considered for EDC-6, Mr. Murphy responded that various innovative practices were being considered and no decisions had been made yet.

A participant asked if these systems can be adapted to rockfall data. Mr. Murphy noted that visibility apps used with dust storms or fire events could be adapted for other weather events.

Mr. Murphy’s presentation offered several examples of DOTs nationwide employing these strategies. A participant asked if any states are quantifying the benefits of WRMS implementation. Mr. Murphy offered that Caltrans is one agency.

The presentation given by Mr. Murphy can be downloaded here.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

More information on this innovation is available on the FHWA Weather Responsive Management Systems resources page.

 

Federal Highway Administration Releases Second EDC-5 Progress Report

The second EDC-5 Progress Report summarizes the deployment progress of the 10 innovations in the fifth round of the the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts program for July through December, 2019. The EDC program coordinates the deployment of new strategies and technologies within State Departments of Transportation. These strategies help transportation stakeholders to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, and integrate automation to better serve the nation.

The national report analyzes each state’s implementation stages for the 10 innovations using charts and maps. The report also presents the number of states that have demonstrated, assessed, or institutionalized innovations, and presents goals for how many states should reach these stages by December 2020. New Jersey Department of Transportation has fully institutionalized Crowdsourcing for Operations, Project Bundling, and Unmanned Aerial Systems. The agency has reached the assessment stage for Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian, and the demonstration (testing and piloting) stage for Advanced Geotechnical Exploration Methods and Collaborative Hydraulics. Two other innovations are in the development phase.

FHWA compiles a progress report every six months regarding the state of practice for the current round of EDC initiatives. An online version of the EDC-5 Progress Report can be found here.