Please join the NJDOT Bureau of Research and attend our next Lunchtime Tech Talk! Webinar, Advanced Reinforced Concrete Materials for Transportation Infrastructure, to learn more about this recently completed research study.
New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure systems must resist conditioning from the natural environment and physical demands from service loading to meet the needs of users statewide. Reinforced concrete, which is widely used, deteriorates under environmental conditioning, contributing to durability and maintenance challenges. Notably, new materials, such as concrete materials with high ductility, have been developed to improve the service life of reinforced concrete transportation infrastructure.
In this webinar, Co-Directors of New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Materials and Structures Laboratory, Dr. Matthew Bendelt, and Dr. Matthew Adams, both Associate Professors at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, will speak about the team’s research conducted to assess the mechanical properties and long-term durability of these systems. Research results show benefits across a range of metrics suggesting the potential to substantially improve the in-service behavior of reinforced concrete transportation infrastructure. For example, life-cycle cost analyses were performed that show that bridge decks made with ductile concrete materials have high economic potential with structural deterioration occurring at a significantly slower rate compared to that of reinforced normal strength concrete systems.
This Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar is free, but registration is required to receive the URL link to the webinar. PE credits are available, but you must be registered for the event. Click through the link below to register:
NJDOT, like other State departments of transportation (DOTs), has become increasingly conscious of infrastructure’s environmental burdens and are seeking more environmentally sustainable materials in construction. Recently, we spoke with Kimberly Sharp, Manager, Structural Design, Geotechnical Engineering and Geology, and Mohab Hussein, Project Engineer, Deputy Chief Technical, Geotechnical Engineering about NJDOT’s adoption of Foamed Glass Aggregate which serves an example of the deployment of an innovative, sustainable material.
To make foamed glass aggregate, crushed container glass is collected from recycling companies, finely ground into powder and mixed with a foaming agent, and sent through a kiln and softened. Bubbles form within the softened glass. When it cools, the material cracks and forms lightweight, coarse, foam-like aggregate pieces that can be used in various transportation construction projects.
Q. How did you learn of this material?
Aero Aggregates in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, reached out to the Department in 2018 to provide a technical presentation on foamed glass aggregate. An industry presentation is an established step in NJDOT’s process for exploring new technologies. If we are interested in the product, as we were in foamed glass aggregate, we start a pilot project.
Q. When did NJDOT begin using foam glass aggregate?
Our pilot project was the Rt. 7 Wittpenn Bridge in Kearny, NJ in 2019. Use of this material replaced 32,000 cu.yds. of regular fill and saved almost 28 million bottles from the landfill. We used the material for a crossover from one side of the road to the other. We built it and let the contractor use the area for six weeks with heavy equipment traveling over it. We maintained survey equipment at the site and looked for settlement and any lateral spreading and nothing moved.
Q. What have been the most common uses?
For us at NJDOT, the most common uses have been as fill underneath roadways to raise the profile, behind existing abutments where we were putting in a new backwall and new girders and we wanted to lighten the lateral forces on the backwall, as backfill to the approach to a bridge, to resolve sheeting issues on a project, and as backfill behind a temporary wire wall.
We have very soft, compressible soils beneath some of our roadways, and in areas of high tide or frequent flooding, therefore we want to raise the elevation of the roadway. Using heavy, natural fill material beneath the pavement box can lead to pavement that ultimately would ride like a roller coaster due to uneven settling. A less costly approach is to over-excavate the existing soil and place with the foamed glass aggregate. At 22 lbs./cu.ft., the aggregate is buoyant, so regular weight soil is placed over it to weigh it down, and then the pavement box is built on top of the soil. Use of the aggregate lessens the amount of settlement and results in a nice smooth roadway.
Q. Who are suppliers of this material?
Aero Aggregates is the supplier that we work with. They recycle glass from Pennsylvania and from a southern New Jersey recycling center. We appreciate that they are using local materials.
Q. What are the environmental benefits of using this material? What is it replacing?
Foamed glass aggregate is saving millions of bottles from landfills. This material is made of 100 percent recycled material. In addition, the material replaces traditional backfill that would be quarried, and so minimizes depletion of natural resources. It also minimizes use of other material such as rebar, concrete and other foundation elements. In addition, it is lightweight, about half the weight of regular lightweight fill material, and so reduces transportation emissions. There are associated cost savings to its use.
Q. Is there an ongoing assessment process for use of this material, or is it an established process?
We had questions in the beginning. The material was so light that we worried about its durability. The manufacturer provided results from testing and we tested the material in the field. Use of foamed glass aggregate is an established process at NJDOT. The material was first used in Germany in the 1980s, and in Norway in the 1990s to prevent rutting of pavements because it has good insulating qualities. It is useful in cold regions.
Q. Are there limits to the transportation construction applications where this material can be used?
Foamed glass aggregate has its own compaction requirements; it is lightly compacted or graded out with lightweight equipment to avoid crushing of the aggregate. As mentioned above, it requires capping to weigh it down. Pavement design engineers want several inches of regular weight soil between the lightweight aggregate and the pavement box.
Q. What is the state of industry knowledge and acceptance of the use of this material?
It is still early in the process of nationwide adoption. New Jersey is one of the first states to implement use of the material on our projects. We have received calls from many state DOTs asking how we began using it, and about our experience of using it in lieu of other lightweight material, so word is getting around. Aero Aggregates used it in Philadelphia around I-95. The industry is working on starting up new plants. Word is spreading through the contracting community. The first contractor that used it with us liked it so much they eliminated all other lightweight types of materials in the contract bid items. Through word of mouth, other design consultants and Contractors have picked up on use of the material.
Q. Do you have current projects where this is being used and do you anticipate continued use of the material in the future?
Yes, and we have some in design, and we will include foamed glass aggregate in the contract for future projects for consideration.
For future projects, we have not used foamed glass aggregate behind structural walls as yet, although we know it has been used in Philadelphia, and we are considering that application.
The Department is also considering applications related to temporary water storage in flood areas. Our current and past projects are using closed cell foamed glass aggregate, but an open cell aggregate is available. Its porosity might be beneficial in flood mitigation and other resiliency projects.
We really like the product and look forward to expanding its use. We are always looking for new technologies and this is one that will continue to be of great benefit.
Q. What do you consider to be the keys to the successful adoption of the material?
Agency willingness has been the key to successful adoption of this innovative material.
The NJDOT Research Library maintains a “Did You Know” page to share basic facts about the research library, transportation research resources, and newly issued publications available through AASHTO and the ASTM COMPASS Portal.
Hot Topic Searches are available on the TRID Searches page
The Research Library maintains a "TRID Searches" page that contains a list of recent publications indexed in the TRID database organized by 37 subject areas. NJDOT’s Library also maintains "Hot Topic" searches that contain the projects and publications issued in the last five years on several topics, including: Transformational Technologies; Planning & Safety; Resilience; Sustainability; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Workforce Recruitment and Retention.
TRID (Transport Research International Documentation) is the world's largest and most comprehensive bibliographic resource on transportation research information. It combines the records from the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) database of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Joint Transport Research Centre’s International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) database of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
TRID helps researchers locate solutions to problems, avoid duplication of work, and save resources. It includes records of AASHTO publications, federal and state DOT reports, University Transportation Center (UTC) reports, and commercial journal literature, among other sources. It also satisfies the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirements to consult TRB's TRIS databases to identify ongoing or previously completed research on a given topic.
Recent NJ Publications in TRID
If you are looking, you can find publications with New Jersey identifiers and/or prepared by NJ research institutions. A quick scan of TRID uncovered these recently added records in the TRID database displaying recently completed research publications:
Please contact the NJDOT research librarian, Eric Schwarz, MSLIS, at (609) 963-1898, or email at email@example.com for assistance on how to expand your search to projects, or retrieve these or other publications.
On April 26, 2023, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar, “Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition!”. The event featured three important research studies that NJDOT was not able to include in the NJDOT Research Showcase virtual event held last October. The Showcase serves as an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway in New Jersey.
The three research studies explored issues at the intersection of transportation and the environment and the advancement of sustainable transportation infrastructure. The presenters, in turn, shared their research on the design and performance evaluation results of harvesting energy through transportation infrastructure; the properties of various materials used in roadway design treatments to effectively quantify and mitigate stormwater impacts of roadway projects; and analytical considerations inherent in estimating road surface temperatures to inform the development of a winter weather road management tool for NJDOT. After each presentation, webinar participants had an opportunity to pose questions of the presenter.
Presentation #1 – New Design and Performance Evaluation of Energy Harvesting from Bridge Vibration by Hao Wang, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT)
Dr. Wang noted that energy harvesting converts waste energy into usable energy that is clean and renewable for various transportation applications. Energy harvesting projects can be large scale (solar or wind energy solutions) or micro-scale (providing power for lighting, self-powered sensor devices, and wireless data transfer).
In this project, the large scale application considered the use of photovoltaic noise barriers (PVNBs) which integrate solar panels with noise barriers to harvest solar energy. His research developed energy estimation models at the project- and state-level for a prototypical design installation of noise barriers.
In his presentation, Dr. Wang focused on the micro-scale application that employed piezoelectric sensors on bridge structures. He noted that piezoelectric energy harvesting can be achieved by compression or vibration. He explained that traffic and winds cause roadway bridges to vibrate. This movement subjects the piezoelectric sensors to mechanical stresses or changes in geometric dimensions which create an electric charge.
Piezoelectric energy harvesting is affected by the material, geometry design of the transducer, and external loading. Instead of embedding sensors in pavements, the researchers sought to attach the sensors to the bridge structure imposing less impact on the host structure and increasing the ease of installation. They developed and evaluated new designs of piezoelectric cantilevers to create a range of resonant frequency to match with bridge vibration modes.
Multiple degree-of-freedom (DOF) cantilever designs were tested in the laboratory, and in full-scale tests. The goal was to customize the design to maximize power outputs resulting from bridge vibrations. Multiple cantilever design options were examined with adjustable masses. Simulation models were developed for estimating energy harvesting performance and to facilitate the optimization of mass combinations through quantitative models.
The researchers used finite element models to simulate the effect, and assessed the model in the laboratory to manage the voltage output of various designs. Bridges have multiple vibration frequencies under different vibration modes, on the bridge structure and the span. A full-scale bridge test was conducted using the Rutgers-CAIT Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing lab (BEAST) to give sample voltage outputs from cantilevers.
Future research will be needed to explore the effect of loading speed that takes into consideration the variable speeds on a bridge something that was not captured in the laboratory testing.
Findings of the research included: multiple degree of freedom (DOF) cantilevers can generate considerable energy when resonant frequencies match vibrational frequencies of the bridge structure; finite element modeling can predict resonant frequencies of multiple-DOF cantilevers as validated by experiments and ensures that numerical models can be used to explain the relationship between resonant frequency and mass combination for optimized design; and the proposed cantilever designs and optimization approach can be used for piezoelectric energy harvesting considering a variety of vibration features from bridges under different external conditions.
Dr. Wang responded to questions following his presentation:
Q. How far below the asphalt are the sensors placed and how often do they need to be replaced? A. For this project, the installation in this phase used a magnetic fixture to attach the cantilever to the girder. The installation procedure was easy for this phase. For a field installation, we will need to consider more thoroughly the mount and durability but did not need to address this during this phase and we do not have real-world data now to share about that.
Q. Would the vibrations be amplified with the cables? A. The cables on the real bridge – if we attached to the cable the vibrations would be less, which is why we attached them to the girder.
Presentation #2 – Impacts of Vegetation, Porous Hot Mix Asphalt, Gravel and Bare Soil Treatments on Stormwater Runoff from Roadway Projects by Qizhong (George) Guo, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Dr. Guo described the effect of increased impervious coverage in urban locations that leads to increased surface water runoff. Transportation agencies are required to assess and mitigate the stormwater runoff impacts of roadway projects. The project explored the effect on runoff of use of gravel, vegetation, porous Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA), and bare soil. Areas where these materials would be used include the roadway right-of-way, medians, and beneath guiderails.
Variables explored in lab testing included subsoil hydraulic conductivity, rainfall intensity and rainfall duration. The researchers used the Curve Number (CN) method for estimating direct runoff from rainstorms. Lab testing involved a column of soil with little lateral flow and limited depth to the level representing the water table. To apply lab findings to field conditions, the regression equation of Curve Number versus the infiltration rate obtained from the laboratory measurements can be applied after replacing the laboratory-measured infiltration rate with the field-measured subsoil hydraulic conductivity or assigned hydrologic soil groups.
This research resulted in Curve Numbers for bare soil and vegetation similar to the established CNs for dirt (including right-of-way) and open space (lawns, fair condition). The estimated CNs for gravel were significantly smaller than the established CNs for gravel (including right-of-way). The research resulted in CNs for porous HMA but no comparison can be made as there is no established CN for this material. The project could help NJDOT in seeking approval of the Curve Numbers for gravel and porous HMA from regulatory agencies. In addition, the study affirmed the use of pervious surfaces and the effectiveness of stormwater runoff reduction to restore natural hydrology.
Following the presentation, Dr. Guo responded to questions asked through the chat feature:
Q. What are preventative measures to avoid porous HMA clogging? A. Sediment source control is needed to prevent dirt and dust from entering the porous HMA. If the area around the pavement is subject to erosion, runoff carries this dirt or sand into the material. If the material becomes clogged, a vacuum is needed to clean it.
Q. Can we disperse runoff in roadway drainage systems as opposed to collection? A. There are several ways to disperse runoff, such as by the use of rain gardens, a horizontal spreader, or use of a stone/gravel strip to spread the runoff.
Some questions were submitted in the Chat and, due to time constraints, were answered by Dr. Guo after the Tech Talk.
Q. We recently had a project meeting during concept development where we suggested porous asphalt for guide rail base. Another team mentioned they would prefer we not use PHMA due to it clogging over time and basically becoming HMA. What research has been done on PHMA effectiveness over time, and what can be done to remedy reduced flow (if it does occur)? A: The clogging of porous hot mix asphalt (PHMA) and other porous pavement varieties is undeniably a significant and pressing issue. Our study for NJDOT did not tackle the problem of clogging, but other researchers have conducted relevant investigations, and more targeted research is anticipated. The most effective method to reduce clogging is by preventing excessive coarse sediment from entering PHMA and other porous pavements. Special care should be taken to maintain the surrounding landscape in order to mitigate soil erosion, and not to apply sand to any of the road surfaces for snow abatement. Alternatively, sediment in the runoff can be captured or filtered using a swale or gravel strip before it enters the PHMA or other porous pavement areas. Implementing a proactive inspection and monitoring system for clogging is also essential.
In cases where PHMA or other porous pavements become clogged, a vacuum street sweeper or regenerative air sweeper can be employed to dislodge and remove the solid materials. However, traditional mechanical sweepers should be avoided, as they may cause the solids to break down or force particulates deeper into the porous spaces, exacerbating the clogging issue in porous pavements.
Q. Did you use the same course stone mix in the NJDOT specs for the course stone non-vegetative surface. I assume you are calling this gravel. A: Yes, the NJDOT construction specifications were adhered to in the design of the laboratory setup for all four land treatment types: gravel, porous hot mix asphalt, vegetation, and bare soil. These specifications can be found in the “Roadway Design Manual (2015)”, “Standard Construction Details (2016)”, and “Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Constructions (2019)”. Comprehensive details are provided in Table 13 in Appendix A of our Final Report for the research project (FHWA-NJ-2023-004).
Q. What compaction did you use for the porous HMA? We usually use only a small portable tamper machine in the field with about 2 passes. A. In our laboratory, a gyratory compactor was employed for the compaction of the porous HMA samples tested. Two relevant sentences in our Final Report for the research project (FHWA-NJ-2023-004) state: “For the porous asphalt land treatment, cylindrical porous Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) gyratory samples with a diameter of 6 in and a depth of 4 in were manufactured at Rutgers CAIT Asphalt Pavement Lab. The mix design utilized to manufacture the HMA met the requirements of the Open-graded Friction Course in the Updated Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction (2007).”
Q: Can this report be used to get acceptance of porous HMA by DEP? A: Yes, although further dialogue with NJDEP, NRCS, and other relevant agencies or organizations may be necessary for the ultimate acceptance.
Q: NJDOT Materials lab did a study of various ages of porous HMA in the field and found out that it did not clog over an 8 year period. It appeared to be self-cleaning. A: I appreciate the information you provided. The likelihood of porous HMA clogging is closely related to the volume and size of solids, sediment, or particulates entering it. A minimal amount of fine particulates is unlikely to cause serious or rapid clogging issues in porous HMA. To my knowledge, there is no “self-cleaning” mechanism inherent in porous HMA.
Q: What about the contamination in runoff water which will penetrate in subsoil? A: Contaminants in runoff water should not be allowed to infiltrate the subsoil. Highly contaminated runoff must not directly enter land treatments (LTs), green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs), or stormwater control measures (SCMs). Instead, these systems will treat mildly contaminated runoff as it passes through them. Consequently, the runoff water will achieve a relatively high level of purity before it infiltrates the subsoil.
Presentation #3 – Practical Considerations of Geospatial Interpolation of Road Surface Temperature for Winter Weather Road Management by Branislav Dimitrijevic, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Luis Rivera, Analyst Trainee, NJDOT Transportation Mobility, Transportation Operations Systems & Support
Mr. Rivera provided background on NJDOT’s Weather Savvy Road System that addresses the need for proactive winter road maintenance and the wide variation in road conditions throughout the state. There are only 48 stationary Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) stations across the state in areas that are deemed essential. They provide information on road conditions (wet or dry), and road temperature. The Weather Savvy Road System integrates stationary RWIS and mobile RWIS (MRWIS) to track road conditions in real time, provide data visualization to operators to inform decision-making, and assist in planning road management.
In 2017, NJDOT received a USDOT Accelerated Innovation Deployment grant for implementation of FHWA’s Every Day Counts Round 4 Weather Savvy Roads Integrating Mobile Observations (IMO) innovation. The agency deployed Internet of Things (IoT) and Connected Vehicle technology to improve road weather management. NJDOT installed sensors and dash cameras on 24 fleet vehicles to pick up air temperatures, road temperatures, surface condition, and road grip, and portable PC equipment to analyze and report this information to improve safety for the traveling public and inform decision-making. Road surface temperature is the most indicative measure of road condition.
Dr. Dimitrijevic discussed research undertaken to gather road surface temperatures using Kriging, a geospatial interpolation model. The goal was to discover a way to extrapolate the information collected from the sensors to provide estimated road surface temperatures across the entire road network within NJDOT’s jurisdiction.
The researchers collected data from RWIS/MRWIS and other data available, including land coverage, elevation, etc., that can affect road surface temperatures (RST). They sought to use a Kriging Interpolation and Machine Learning Model to give estimated RSTs over the network to inform planning and evaluation of winter road maintenance efforts. Variability in RST across the analysis region is a big factor. Researchers needed to find a function that fit the variability between the data points, and use that to estimate the parameter value at any particular point.
Dr. Dimitrijevic discussed the differences between three Kriging methods: Ordinary Kriging and Universal Kriging, the simplest and fastest to calculate; regression Kriging which uses additional factors, besides distance, that will affect RST; and Empirical Bayesian Kriging that uses Bayesian inference to calculate parameters, but also calculates the probability of making an error.
All three Kriging methods assume that for any correlation between a given parameter that you are trying to estimate in a given area, there is a relationship between the values of that parameter at different points that depends on the actual location of the points, or distance between points. The method uses the known value of surrounding parameter points, for example, the road surface temperature at these points, and measures the distance between these points of known parameter value to estimate the parameter (RST) at the unknown point. Kriging assumes a statistical relationship involving the distance between RWIS stations.
Researchers conducted case studies using RST interpolation of stationary RWIS data by driving between RWIS locations, and then expanded the RWIS coverage of mobile sensors during a winter storm event. They found the best results came from combining RWIS and mobile RWIS data. They found Regression Kriging to be helpful for including other factors (the most statistically significant being vegetation type, land cover type, distance to water, and elevation). Increasing the mobile RWIS records reduced the error level, and this finding resulted in a recommendation to increase the number of mobile sensors on NJDOT’s fleet.
Kriging was effective in capturing the spatial variation in the dataset. An error of one degree Fahrenheit still needs to be addressed. The researchers continue to look into solutions in ongoing research which will explore additional interpolation methods, integration of short-term past predictions, and a bi-level interpolation using stationary RWIS data at a regional scale and the mobile RWIS data to make adjustments to the local scale.
The model that performed best was implemented in a web-based map tool that gathers data in real time and refreshes the estimated road surface temperature every 10-15 minutes, providing a map and the ability to download data. When complete, this tool will become part of the toolbox for Operations, Maintenance and Mobility division.
Dr. Dimitrijevic answered questions following his presentation:
Q. How is the dew point and frost point measured by the sensor? A. Dew point is not measured; there are statistical models that calculate readings of air temperature, air humidity and pressure to determine dew point or frost point. Dew point and frost point are the same thing. The term used depends on the temperature.
Q. What other interpolation models, besides Kriging, will you be looking at? A. We are looking at a combination of machine learning and geo-statistical modeling. There is also bi-level modeling that uses one method to regress the regional scale estimate, and another to use the localized readings to adjust the estimates for a local roadway. These methods require more computation time, but we are looking for models that can calculate in real time for tactical management purposes.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies in 2022. AASHTO held a webinar on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 during which NJDOT practitioners and contractors offered their first-hand experience with implementing the saw-cutting method on their projects successfully. The innovation was also recognized as the NJ’s Build a Better Mousetrap Winner in 2022 and a video description of the innovation can be found here.
Below is a reprint of the AASHTO Innovation Initiative Page that features the Saw Cut Vertical Curb and can be accessed here.
The AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) establishes uniform standards for the installation of roadway safety features, including longitudinal barriers. In accordance with the recent MASH standards, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has updated the installation requirements for guide rails. Per this new requirement, curbs in front of and along guide rail end terminal treatments should be limited to a maximum 2-inch exposure. The typical exposure of existing curbs is four inches. To make guide rail installation MASH compliant, the conventional practice is to remove existing curbs and replace them with 2-inch curbs. The practice typically requires seven days of field operations for the removal, replacement, and curing of concrete. Not only does this timeframe add to labor costs, but also exposes work crews and motorists to work zone traffic for longer periods of time.
NJDOT has developed an innovative method in which the existing curbs can be saw cut to two inches in lieu of removal and replacement. The existing guide rail can remain in place during saw-cutting, while the construction crew can return at a later time to remove and upgrade the guide rail. The saw-cutting approach requires only two days of labor. The process uses a power-driven vertical curb saw fitted with horizontally-oriented, diamond-edge blades or abrasive wheels that are capable of sawing to the required dimensions without causing uncontrolled cracking. The saw is water-cooled, circular, and has alignment guides. The saw is also capable of immediately collecting the slurry produced from cutting the concrete. Traffic control in work areas requires a moving operation set up that includes channelizer barrels and drums, construction signs based on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and DOT standard details, and a truck with a mounted crash cushion.
The FHWA will present an eight-part webinar series on the EDC-6 Implementation Initiative for Digital As-Builts (DABs). The all-encompassing webinar series is designed to increase overall understanding of DABs and how to advance their implementation, demonstrate practical benefits, address barriers to DABs implementation, showcase practical solutions, and establish DABs best practices.
Building blocks of DABs
Benefits and opportunities
Processes for implementing and institutionalizing DABs
Standard practices, policies, and best practices
Extract Digital As-Built Data to GIS/Asset Management Systems
A recently completed research study on NJ TRANSIT grade crossing safety focuses on identifying locations for rail grade crossing elimination. Researchers from Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), Asim Zaman, P.E., Xiang Liu, Ph.D., and Mohamed Jalayer, Ph.D., from Rowan University, developed a methodology using 20 criteria to narrow a list of 100 grade crossings to ensure appropriate identification for closure. The process helps NJ TRANSIT and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to direct limited funds to areas of greatest need to benefit the public.
Across the country, 34 percent of railroad incidents over the past ten years have occurred at grade crossings. The elimination of grade crossings can improve public safety, decrease financial burdens, and improve rail service to the public.
According to the proposed methodology, the 20 crossings recommended for closure located in Monmouth County (60%), Bergen County (25%), and Essex County (25%).
The researchers ranked grade crossings in New Jersey using the following data fields: crash history, average annual daily traffic, roadway speed, roadway lanes, length of the crossing’s street, weekday train traffic, train speed category, number of tracks, access to train platforms, intersection angle, distance to alternate crossings, distance to emergency and municipal buildings, whether emergency and municipal buildings are on the same street, and date of last or future planned signal and surface upgrades. This process resulted in a final list of 20 grade crossings eligible for elimination.
To understand how this study will be used, we conducted an interview with NJTRANSIT personnel Susan O’Donnell, Director, Business Analysis & Research, Ed Joscelyn, Chief Engineer – Signals, and Joseph Haddad, Chief Engineer, Right of Way & Support.
Q. How will the report inform decision-making?
It is important to have solid research and strong evaluation criteria, such as developed by this study, on which to base decisions for grade crossing elimination. In addition to the study, we looked at what other state agencies and transit agencies have done with grade crossing elimination, as well as criteria recommendations from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Following up on this study, NJ TRANSIT and NJDOT are considering next steps that would be needed to close the 20 identified grade crossings. In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Transportation has plenary power over the closing of grade crossings.
Q. What other information will be needed to assess these locations?
Local concerns about grade crossing elimination tend to focus on traffic re-routing, including the possible impacts on neighborhoods, time needed to reach destinations, and emergency vehicle access to all parts of a community. The criteria established by the study addressed these areas of concern. Prior studies have determined that the road networks around the identified locations are adequate to accommodate re-routed traffic. The current research study took into account the findings from those prior studies. As each project moves forward, NJDOT will determine if additional information will be needed.
Q. Is elimination of any of these grade crossings part of NJ TRANSIT’s capital program?
All of the closings are part of the capital program. Funding for the grade crossing elimination comes from the federal government and NJ TRANSIT. NJ TRANSIT funding is in place to close the crossings.
Q. Are there benefits of the research study beyond identification of the 20 grade crossings?
The research study developed the criteria and process for identifying grade crossings for elimination. This framework can be used in the future to assess other grade crossings for possible elimination. NJ TRANSIT is grateful to NJDOT for funding this important research project to improve safety.
For more information on this research study, please see the resources section below.
NJDOT’s Division of Local Aid & Economic Development continues its efforts to make its project management processes more efficient by implementing electronic plan review. The Division is preparing to implement electronic plan review, a feature that was previously incorporated in the Project Management and Reporting System (PMRS), initially launched in 2021, to establish electronic document management, electronic plan review, and other 21st century project management innovations to make project management more efficient.
Training Sessions in an Innovation Context. The adoption of electronic plan review seeks to accomplish key goals aligned with the Department’s commitment to using technology to enable staff to perform routine tasks more efficiently. Ultimately, the transition to an electronic process will reduce paper consumption and centralize and standardize some project management activities. The shift will allow Local Aid project managers, NJDOT Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and designers to collaborate efficiently, to enable easy file sharing and to track and manage the comment resolution process.
Local Aid’s objectives to improve program delivery through electronic review is well-aligned with EDC-3’s e-Construction initiative. The online training sessions targeted to NJDOT and Local Public Agency and consultants are being funded, in part, through a State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive Funding Grant.
Each year the New Jersey STIC seeks to advance the deployment of innovations through the use of STIC Incentive Funding Grants. Click on NJ STIC Incentive Funding Grants to get more information on the purpose, eligibility and uses of NJ STIC Incentive Funding in recent years.
The Federal Highway Administration’s National Highway Institute (NHI) is offering several environmental web-based training courses addressing climate change through adaptation and resilience. The courses are aimed primarily towards the needs of transportation personnel who work in engineering, design, and project development/NEPA units in transportation agencies (mainly State DOTs). The courses will also be relevant to those interested in planning, asset management, operations, and maintenance. Expected participants include experienced staff from State DOTs, local governments, Tribal governments, Federal State agencies, and consultants.
The free Web-based Trainings (WBTs) are prerequisites for an in-person Instructor-Led training course.
Do you have to reduce the curb height to make the longitudinal barriers compliant with AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) requirements?
Join AASHTO for an information-packed webinar with New Jersey Department of Transportation on how saw-cutting is used in curb retrofitting to make longitudinal barrier installations compliant with new requirements in a safer, more cost-effective, and more efficient manner.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies in 2022. More info about the about the AII award and the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation can be found here.
AASHTO’s webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 2:00 pm EDT. Register HERE
NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Saw Cut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.
During this free webinar, participants will engage with NJDOT practitioners and contractors who have first-hand experience in implementing the saw-cutting method on their projects successfully.
Discussion will include:
Benefits of saw-cutting vertical curbs
Successes and lessons learned
Resources to get you started
Lead States Team Expert Presenters and Panelists
Gary Liedtka-Bizuga, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Henry Jablonski, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Peter Harry, Jr., ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.
Rick Berenato, ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.
Click to learn more about the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation and the New Jersey Build a Better Mousetrap program.