Innovation Spotlight Interview: Virtual Public Involvement at NJDOT

Virtual Public Involvement presents an opportunity to expand the community engagement process. An FHWA Every Day Counts Round 6 initiative (EDC-6), Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) gives participants an opportunity to engage, other than through a traditional, physical meeting, which can require more time and resources to attend. The use of virtual engagement technologies can boost public participation in the comment process, and provide new avenues for collecting data and disseminating information on potential infrastructure investments and other projects. By increasing opportunities for public communication and engagement, VPI can serve to ensure that the needs of the public are fully considered in transportation project planning and development decisions.

At NJDOT, the COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges and opportunities for the agency’s public engagement efforts. The necessity of social distancing motivated the Department to conduct meetings and outreach virtually, transforming the outreach process. To learn more about the lessons learned in making this transition, three NJDOT staff members were interviewed: Vanessa Holman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, serves as NJDOT’s legislative liaison and oversees the Department’s Office of Government and Community Relations; Megan Fackler, Director of the Office of Government and Community Relations (OCR), oversees public engagement and handles responses to DOT-related issues and concerns raised by the public, elected officials, and others; and Zenobia Fields, Senior Policy and Program Advisor, is responsible for policy related to planning and programming, including statewide plans and safety initiatives, and engaging with national organizations (AASHTO, TRB).  Their observations are summarized below.

What was VPI like at NJDOT before the pandemic?

NJDOT has always strived to employ tools and mediums that will help achieve positive outcomes, working to ensure that the public is treated as valued customers.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency was not especially “tech-forward” with public engagement, and instead utilized more traditional, in-person engagement strategies. However, NJDOT staff who regularly engaged with stakeholders and attended external meetings were issued tablets to help facilitate in-person interactions. Staff had access to Microsoft Teams and preliminary training in using that platform. So, at the onset of the pandemic, the OCR and other staff were equipped with the technological capabilities to transition to virtual engagement.

How did the pandemic affect NJDOT’s public engagement efforts?

Beginning the third week of March 2020, NJDOT pivoted to a VPI style of engagement. With the assistance of IT staff, OCR held a large legislative summit for an NJDOT project, and began virtually conducting project-specific local official briefings, public information sessions, and public hearings. This outreach occurs during every phase of major projects from concept development through construction. Public Information Centers (PICs) are similar to an open house event, where the public is invited to attend and review at their own pace project drawings and plans, ask questions, and provide feedback. During the pandemic, NJDOT established project-specific PIC websites with multi-lingual content available. Links to certain PIC virtual meeting videos created by consultants were also made available for a certain period of time (e.g., 14 days), which has increased the number of persons accessing those meetings.

For certain projects, OCR sends hard copy letters to stakeholders who live within a certain distance to the project location informing them of the project and advising them to contact NJDOT if they need technical or other assistance to engage.

With the onset of Covid-19, NJDOT and its staff pivoted to a VPI style of engagement.

Several other units, such as traffic engineering, also began using virtual engagement technologies, including pre-construction meetings. The NJDOT Permitting unit has engaged applicants virtually to walk through documents, including technical project plans. Using the screen-share function, presenters can show and discuss complex technical materials, including maps and jurisdictional documents.

What platforms does the Department use?

NJDOT utilizes Microsoft Teams for most VPI for both internal and external outreach.  The Department initially used Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting, but determined that Microsoft Teams was the most optimal platform for internal meetings along with Cisco WebEx for public meetings. While the agency does not have a Zoom account, consultants often use Zoom for public and stakeholder engagement.

Consultants are encouraged to use a variety of online engagement tools for public and stakeholder feedback such as crowdsourcing, wiki maps, mobile apps, videos, etc.  NJDOT has used crowdsourcing to identify potholes, locations for bike share stations and other information.

How has the Department implemented VPI as a practice?

VPI has been embraced at the Department, necessitated by the pandemic, however standardized VPI as an implemented practice is still a work-in-progress. Some staff have received training in VPI and attended webinars on the topic from AASHTO and FHWA through its EDC-6 program, but the training has not extended beyond these collaborations. The expansion of VPI training for staff could be valuable to embed best practices about what works, and what doesn’t.

What are some of the benefits that have come with implementing VPI?

Overall, stakeholder meetings have experienced higher attendance and participation, such as the Strategic Highway Safety Plan meetings, because people do not have to travel, and can also avoid parking, traffic, scheduling conflicts, etc.

VPI tools are being using by transportation agencies to enable the public to access user-friendly features to receive information and provide input.

Also, employing VPI for PICs has afforded participants with more time to access project information at a time that is convenient to them and to formulate thoughtful comments and questions on the specific project. VPI has also helped NJDOT to more formally capture and respond to comments and inquiries via electronic tracking, as compared to in-person comment collection. Many NJDOT project websites include a hyperlink to make accessing them easier for the public, enabling them to “click” on the link to access project-related information and provide feedback. And, interested parties can opt to receive text or email alerts from the Department on certain projects (e.g., Route 495 project e-alert; I-295 project).

An in-person open house event or PIC gives participants approximately three hours to review materials and provide feedback, however a virtual event can be made available for a longer period via a hyperlink. Attendees of a virtual event do not have to travel and wait in line to ask questions or to share comments, which can be very time consuming at a highly attended PIC; instead, they can post feedback on chat or via a Q&A function, or ask questions via telephone. Virtual engagement also enables participants to view documents and materials at their own pace, allowing them to return multiple times if needed over a period of days or weeks.

Over the past 18 months, implementing VPI has also become easier for NJDOT staff because their familiarity with VPI platforms and tools has increased. VPI makes certain tasks simpler as well. For example, while the services of a translator would need to be secured for an in-person event, translation is undertaken automatically with certain VPI platforms (e.g., Google translate).

What are some of the challenges of implementing VPI?

Learning how to successfully employ VPI has involved a great deal of trial and error. It was helpful to use consultant services for some of the Department’s initial VPI events. There are always challenges when implementing virtual mediums, with technology, security, and establishing best practices.  For example, early in the pandemic, a Zoom “bomber” hacked into one of the Commissioner’s virtual meetings, which necessitated a temporary meeting shut-down. Other common technology challenges encountered included difficult connections for participants, and issues with microphone and camera functionality.

The FHWA maintains a VPI webpage that is a store-house of case studies, webinars and peer changes on model practices.

Another concern regards ensuring full participation, as attendance does not necessarily mean engagement. Participants are encouraged to turn on their video cameras to minimize their multi-tasking during VPI – something that is not really an obstacle during in-person meetings.  Using break out rooms, chat and the “raising hand” online platform features have been helpful to encourage engagement. Online polls have also been a successful VPI tool including Zoom polls, Mentimeter, and Poll Everywhere to encourage engagement.

Some people are quiet and may not be as open on VPI as they would be when talking one-on-one with a person, so there needs to be a balance of VPI engagement and effort made to ensure all of these virtual conversations are happening as they would if they were convened in person.

Receiving state approval to secure licensing for new platforms can be a lengthy process due to security reasons, as can be securing departmental acceptance and adoption of new technologies. Moving forward, the Department is open to learning and trying new virtual platforms and technologies to achieve goals, but at this time there is not a specific VPI need not being met.

What equity concerns have you observed with VPI?

NJDOT remains compliant with federal civil rights and non-discrimination requirements, with a Public Involvement Plan, and the Civil Rights group and Title VI Liaisons involved in each project. An initial challenge at the start of the pandemic was ensuring NJDOT’s VPI complied with NEPA and Title VI regulations. The Civil Rights unit was very helpful in navigating these regulations and ensuring OCR performed their due diligence in this regard.

Another challenge was ensuring that NJDOT was engaging with all, including those who are underserved, under-represented and do not have access to virtual platforms.  Projects must be compliant and also must ensure engagement opportunities are accessible and folks have the technology needed for virtual access (e.g., smartphone, landline) and that computers are not needed in order to participate.

It is important to review and measure how many are participating and the quality of feedback obtained. Some low-income or non-tech savvy members of the public may not have the technology or computer literacy to participate in VPI. In order to address this “digital divide,” focus has been given to expanding broadband connectivity options, such as creating mobile hotspots in areas close to project sites where residents without Wi-Fi or broadband might be able to connect to the internet, making NJDOT interactive tablets available, and connecting through their smartphone or landlines to enable folks to meaningfully participate in the engagement process. If access to any technology is still a barrier for participation, another solution is to provide the opportunity to simply place hand-written suggestions in a physical comment box placed within the geographic limits of the particular project so it is easily accessible to local stakeholders.

What best practices have been developed with VPI?

A key best practice for staff working with VPI is to prepare a script and talking points ahead of time, and to practice with the team prior to the event to ensure familiarity and troubleshoot any identified technological issues. This pre-event planning process helps to ensure a smooth flow during the meeting.

Based on our COVID-19 experiences of the past eighteen months, NJDOT has learned more about the pros and cons of various platforms depending on the target audience, meeting topics, and goals. For example, MS-Teams has been best for internal meetings, or small meetings with elected and local officials, while Zoom’s webinar platform has been ideal for larger meetings and broader, more active public engagement. The use of a consultant to moderate public engagement has been beneficial, such as with enforcing time limits during comment sessions and assisting with technology issues. Over time, implementing VPI has become easier as familiarity with the platforms and technologies has increased among both NJDOT staff and the public.

How does the Department use social media in the public involvement process?

NJDOT has been using Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube to communicate longer video content. The Department uses social media to alert members of the public about upcoming PICs.

The primary social media platforms NJDOT uses are Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube to communicate longer video content. The Department uses social media to alert members of the public about upcoming PICs, offering the link to virtual PICs via Facebook posts. Facebook has been helpful for event pre-planning, and Twitter and the 511 website – a traffic condition platform – are effective when there is an immediate need to communicate to the public. The public uses social media to post comments and inquiries.  Typically, the public feedback communicated through social media is brief, but sometimes commenters provide thoughtful, in-depth remarks from which NJDOT’s OCR can respond.

The Department also uses social media and other outreach tools to inform the public about NJDOT services and role in the community, emphasizing its customer focus. For example, the NJDOT Commissioner drafts an external e-newsletter called “Commitment to Communities” or C2C, that is distributed four-six times annually. Often the content focuses on “Did you know” types of facts related to NJDOT’s role and services. Approximately 6,000 persons subscribe to the newsletter. The online Local Aid Resource Center also uses various social media platforms to communicate primarily to existing and interested grantees.

NJDOT’s social media policy was established prior to the current administration, and primarily focused on employee practices and appropriate behavior as representatives of the Department.  NJDOT is working on developing a new social media policy that will address how to monitor and manage the Department’s social media accounts, including how comments should be responded to and handled. The Department has recently hired a social media coordinator, as well as an in-house videographer. The social media coordinator has increased the Department’s Facebook following to 11,000 persons, which is a significant achievement, especially because the Department does not have an advertising budget for social media. The Department is considering trying new social media platforms, such as Instagram, and continually engages with other state department social media coordinators to learn from their work.

How will VPI be used moving forward?

Overall, both the quantity and quality of NJDOT public engagement increased with VPI implementation during the pandemic and VPI will continue post pandemic. Moving forward, the Department is open to learning and trying new virtual platforms and technologies to achieve goals, which will continue to be evaluated.

While VPI is more economical, in-person engagement remains relevant. NJDOT plans to utilize a hybrid engagement approach, with a mix of VPI and face-to-face engagement. Additionally, the Department must continue to work with community partners as trusted advocates to attract and encourage participation from a diverse set of constituents. The Department will further explore the expanded use of crowdsourcing tools, and the development of an online application for the public to use to contact NJDOT, in addition to using the Department’s central dispatch number.


Resources

FHWA. Virtual Public Involvement. Retrieved from: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/virtual_public_involvement.cfm

NJDOT. Technology Transfer Online Training Library, Virtual Public Involvement Peer Exchanges and Video Case Studies Online. Retrieved from: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2021/08/06/vpi-peer-exchanges-video-case-studies/

Share Your Ideas on the NJ Transportation Research Ideas Portal!

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Bureau of Research invites you to share your ideas on the NJ Transportation Research Ideas Portal.

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

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

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

NEXT ROUND OF RESEARCH.  Please submit your research ideas no later than December 31, 2021 for the next round of research RFPs. The NJDOT Research Oversight Committee (ROC) will prioritize research ideas after this date, and high priority research needs will be posted for proposals.

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

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

Or contact us:  Bureau.Research@dot.nj.gov or (609) 963-2242

Innovation Spotlight: How DOTs Are Moving Toward Digital As-Builts

The FHWA is promoting the deployment of Digital As-Builts (DABs) in Round 6 of the Every Day Counts (EDC-6) Program.  FHWA defines DABs as an accumulation of the data used during digital project delivery that provides a living record of built infrastructure for agencies’ future business needs.   The latest FHWA Innovator, September/October, Issue 86, features a section on e-Ticketing and Digital As Builts that briefly defines the innovation and its benefits along with a short video of digital delivery efforts at Utah DOT.  

During EDC-6, the NJ STIC has set forward goals for advancing Digital As-Builts, assessing the current stage of innovation as “development” and setting forward some near-term capacity-building actions.

This article reports on a brief Digital As-Builts Literature Scan and provides references to a select bibliography of research reports, strategic plans and other resource documents that may warrant closer inspection for innovation teams. The literature scan identifies some key definitions, benefits, emerging practices, recurring challenges and possible lessons when taking steps toward deployment of DABs.

Digital As-Builts Literature Scan

Introduction

A Digital As-Built (DAB) innovates by transferring what are typically 2D, paper records into digital, three-dimensional (3D) datafiles that can be regularly updated and shared with stakeholders throughout a project’s life cycle. This information becomes invaluable in the asset management and operations phase, in which it is crucial for agencies to have the most current, comprehensive data covering their facility’s construction. DABs can also be referred to as digital twins, intricate computerized copies of a road or bridge that simulate real-time conditions, allowing for predictive maintenance and more cost-effective mitigation projects.

Across the country, state departments of transportation (state DOTs) are beginning to adopt DABs requirements for future road and bridge projects. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), for instance, has established ambitious agency goals that by 2035, all agency projects will be bid upon using 3D models—which will be updated throughout the project’s development through completion, and then stored in a centralized database (PennDOT, 2020).

While industry standard software and practices are still emerging, the research, experiences, and challenges from DOTs nationwide can assist in the identification of promising practices and planning the transition to DABs.

Benefits of Digital As-Builts

Digital As-Builts are digitized, detailed records of completed construction projects. These could encapsulate roadways, bridges, barriers, berms, and any other facilities. What is revolutionary about DABs is their capacity to be used as digital twins, sophisticated mock-ups of the actual structure that enable agencies to streamline maintenance and improvement projects. DABs are simple to store and distribute, reducing the time and material costs from producing traditional 2D as-builts. Created using Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) software, and updated with real-world readings, such as laser-based LiDAR, DABs are versatile and, increasingly, trustworthy records.  

DABs were selected as part of the FHWA’s EDC-6, featured for their advances in safety, time savings, and quality (FHWA, 2021).  In addition to providing high quality records that can optimize maintenance and asset management, DABs can streamline the project development process by easily showing decision makers the location of existing infrastructure. The safety benefits come, in part, from shorter work interruptions of regular traffic flows.  

DABs offer the capability to reliably retain information throughout the project process, as data is handed over from one department agency to another.  A UC-Davis report, conducted on behalf of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), suggests that DABs can reduce the risk of lost information considerably (Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center, 2020). Another report, prepared for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) by University of Kentucky researchers, found that digital documentation could significantly build trust in as-built records. In 2018, KYTC spent $217,000 on new forensic investigations because handmade, paper as-builts were deemed untrustworthy (Kentucky Transportation Center, 2019). But DABs, especially when well-updated and held to high standards of detail, can reduce the need for new surveys and ultimately lower costs.

DABs feed into an integrated workflow in which completed facility information is readily accessible for asset management and maintenance. This process is an element of Civil Integrated Management (CIM), and involves the entire lifecycle of a facility.

Existing Practices

Though many aspects of life have been affected by increasing digitization, the as-built record-keeping process in state transportation remains rooted in the analog era. It was apparent, from the literature reviewed, that the majority of state transportation departments are still using 2D, paper as-builts for facility specifications.

When DABs were being used, they were as pilot projects to demonstrate their efficacy. Or, when a part of agency practice, as in the case of Caltrans, implementation was inconsistent and without sufficient coordination (AHMCTRC, 2020).  Similarly, in Kentucky, some records were being stored digitally but without a designated central repository, or as hardcopies in a State Library and Archives warehouse for storage (KTC, 2019), offering little use for ongoing maintenance. States like Michigan and North Carolina, while looking to transition to digital records, were still working on their digital strategies and have yet to implement them as practice (FHWA, 2019).

Some states have recently established regulations requiring DABs, such as the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), which updated the State Highway Utility Accommodation Code in 2021 calling for 3D subsurface models showing the location of utility lines in CDOT’s Right-of-Way (Colorado Department of Transportation, 2021). New York has established a 3D, 4D, and 5D requirement for certain megaprojects (such as the new Kosciuzko Bridge), that tie contractor payments to a continuously-updated model that is then revised with as-built information (FHWA, 2014). And Nevada, while requiring digital contract documents, has yet to add an as-built component. (Nevada Department of Transportation, 2021).

Many DOTs are being spurred to action by technological innovations and by prior EDC rounds (FHWA, 2015) and by the current FHWA’s EDC-6 e-Ticketing and Digital As-Builts initiative.

Emerging Practices

PennDOT appears at the leading edge in its development of a comprehensive DAB implementation plan, intending to adopt the digital delivery process as a department standard by 2025. For DABs, this involves a 5-year span spent developing standards and workflows for implementation. The planning process includes the functioning of various working groups for determining necessary infrastructure and modeling requirements, workspace needs, and training plans. Though PennDOT’s plan is still in progress, their Digital Delivery 2025 Strategic Plan offers a good example of a comprehensive, implementation document detailing steps the agency must take to make the transition to digital delivery (PennDOT, 2020).

Illusrates PenndDOT roadmap schedule for implementation of DABs

Figure 1: Sample Digital Delivery Roadmap from PennDOT.

Agencies in other states are also piloting new standards. Many DOTs are planning to convert from paper records, and to capitalize on this transition by taking advantage of the new digital records in the asset management process.

The Utah Department of Transportation of Transportation (UDOT) has created a website describing the benefits of digital delivery, including the advantages of the use of Digital Twins (UDOT, 2021). UDOT’s site also contains sample deliverables packages for contractors, with technical specifications for roadways, drainage, and structures viewable in Bentley ProjectWise, and document management software used for DABs by several DOTs (e.g., Virginia, Washington, Kentucky, and others) (Virginia Department of Transportation, 2019).

Virginia is also working to establish new guidelines to support the Civil Integrated Management (CIM) process. The guidelines will set standards for Level of Detail (LOD) for 3D renderings, as some models can be inconsistent. Because they are intended to exist as exact records of the constructed facility, DABs are required to be the highest LOD (Level 400) (Virginia Department of Transportation, 2020).

Michigan and North Carolina are currently transitioning from 2D plan sheets to 3D models of contractual documents (FHWA, 2019). Both states plan to incorporate the records into asset and operations management over the project’s lifecycle.

NYSDOT, for a bridge reconstruction in the Catskill region, developed a 3D model for a contract document using Bentley iTwin Design Review software (CS Engineer Magazine, 2021). After the bridge is completed, the contractor is obligated to upload as-built information to the 3D model. This approach is being piloted in New York, but is not yet adopted practice.

In Minnesota, the state Department of Transportation (MnDOT), adopted special as-built requirements for certain regions in the state, starting in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area (FHWA, 2019). The agency also has a dedicated website with DAB specifications. For example, a barrier as-built report might include latitudinal and longitudinal X, Y, and Z coordinates, as well as a Plan ID referring back to the plan set.

Nearby, Iowa DOT has begun using geo-equipped devices from ESRI to capture vector and asset attribute data during the construction process (Iowa DOT Research, 2021). The geolocated data captures the location and geometry of facilities, and is then uploaded to a Microsoft SQL server. As opposed to developing a 3D model in the design process, and then updating it with as-built conditions, an after-the-fact approach captures three-dimensional as-built data outside of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) process.

Other states are exploring how they might apply these concepts to how they manage the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of their facilities. The literature resources reviewed made the benefits of DABs abundantly clear, and showed considerable progress being made, but they also identified challenges in the full-scale deployment of Digital As-Builts as standard practice.

Challenges

Several of the resources reviewed identified barriers for DOTs for implementing DABs. For Developing a Strategic Roadmap for Caltrans Implementation of Virtual Design Construction/Civil Integrated Management (2020), researchers surveyed Caltrans employees from various departments to learn more about the obstacles that the department faced.  Similarly, University of Kentucky researchers surveyed Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) staff, in Redefining Construction As-Built Plans to Meet Current Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Needs (2019).  FHWA has also prepared reports on innovative digital records practices at various states that detail various challenges (FHWA, 2019).  

These reports reveal some recurring themes on the challenges experienced by state DOTs that can be broken into two axes — Workflow and Workforce — as well as some solutions to surmount them.

Table 1: Examples of Workflow and Workforce Challenges and Solutions to DABs Implementation

AxesChallengesSolutionsExamples
WorkflowInconsistent ImplementationDevelop robust, time-tested workflowsPennDOT
Workflow SiloizationFacilitate interdepartmental coordination on projects and data updatesCaltrans
Workflow CompatibilityExtensively test software workflows for technical errors, such as incompatibilityPennDOT
Workflow StandardsCreate file, format, and procedural standards (i.e. designated Levels of Detail). Require compatible software infrastructure to support DABsPennDOT, UDOT, VDOT, NDOT, CDOT
Workforce Digital Competencies Educate employees with ongoing trainings that ease into DAB processPennDOT
WorkforceComplianceEducate for and enforce DAB protocolsUDOT, MnDOT

For example, the Caltrans report made clear that the development of an agency-wide workflow was paramount. Without one, various divisions were inconsistent and ineffective at capturing, maintaining, and communicating about DABs. Caltrans Roadway Design and Structures Design divisions fell short in updating and sharing the existence of updates with one another (AHMCTRC, 2020).  

Regarding particular software, files, and workstations, care must be taken in the workflow design process to ensure compatibility. In Caltrans case, the Roadway Design and Structures Design divisions were using incompatible 3D modeling software. Iowa DOT experienced a similar issue, in which 3D, geolocated models created using ESRI software were then unable to be meaningfully edited in Bentley MicroStation (Iowa DOT Research, 2021).  In addition, Iowa DOT’s 3D models, designed as part of a BIM process for a bridge girder replacement project, could not be edited because of the file type. An audit of Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet found that, though there was a central repository for digital records (Bentley’s ProjectWise), files were uploaded inconsistently (KTC, 2019). While NYSDOT had planned, during the construction of the new Kosciusko Bridge, to continuously update a 3D model to show newly built components, they experienced severe network capacity constraints that prevented them from doing so (FHWA, 2014). Upfront planning, interdepartmental collaboration and testing ensures that DABs potential is unleashed.

The second tier of challenges arise from issues with workforce adoption. An FHWA case study looking at digital record keeping at MnDOT highlights difficulty with securing buy-in from construction staff to comply with new DAB requirements (FHWA, 2019). The KYTC study singled out a lack of digital competencies from older employees as one barrier towards adopting these new technologies. Change is difficult to implement, but especially when staff have become accustomed to the same practice for decades.

Recommendations

For Workflow design, a considered and deliberative process is required. Agencies must convene working groups of stakeholders and learn about department-specific concerns and established processes. Several years may be required to design new DAB workflows that maximize the potential of the new technology, and ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support and encourage staff to follow these workflows.

PennDOT’s plan for implementing digital delivery is an instructive and thorough model document on the subject (PennDOT, 2020). The agency’s Digital Delivery Strategic Plan breaks tasks down into actionable steps, such as Task 2.3, Post Construction Process and Procedures Development, scheduled from Q2-Q3 of 2021, which will map out new requirements and a plan to realize the new processes. An agency wishing to avoid siloization would do well to consult the UC-Davis study that provides itemized, exact solutions.

Graphic displaying PennDOT roadmap

Figure 2: Another visual representation of PennDOT’s Digital Delivery Roadmap.

Architects of the new DAB workflow should be careful to promote interdepartmental collaboration, as well as select compatible software that supports such a goal. Bentley Systems design, engineering, and review software—MicroStation, OpenRoads, and ProjectWise, principally—appear to be the most consistently used across the country (AHMCTRC, 2020). For determining a cohesive workflow, it is imperative that varying software have compatibility with one another—and that they are consistently used across the department.

For the issue of designated detail levels, both Minnesota and Virginia have developed tables with standards specifying when and where to make DABs as accurate as possible, such as whether to survey the constructed facility at a detail of one foot or one meter (FHWA, 2019). The overall objective of the department may help to guide the development process: how does the agency aim to utilize BIM technology? A representative DAB could help to dramatically increase the efficiency of future maintenance or upgrade projects, but only if the appropriate standards are first put in place.

The Workforce presents complementary challenges and solutions. A technology is only useful if it is appropriately deployed—part of the workflow design process should include consultation with staff on specific barriers they face in their daily adoption of the technology. What might be preventing them from doing so? What types of trainings are required to achieve core competencies? Interviewing staff stakeholders will also help to determine accountability measures that could be put in place, for both staff and contractors, to help ensure consistent compliance with new workflows (KTC, 2019).

Moving Forward

Digital As-Builts are a promising technological innovation that can reduce inefficiencies in the life cycle of a transportation facility. If appropriately deployed, DABs can maximize the value of a project, eliminating the need for new forensic investigations, and retaining information as it is handed off from one phase to the next. Many of the DOTs surveyed are considering and incorporating innovative practices into their DAB implementation. Both Caltrans and KYTC, for example, are studying the use of laser-based scanning technologies to develop geolocated 3D models post-construction. In the coming years, as DABs are adopted into practice, more case studies will become available for reference.

From the resources reviewed, it was apparent that Digital As-Builts are promising technology that can streamline record-keeping and save transportation agencies both time and money.

Bibliography

Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center (2020). Developing a Strategic Roadmap for Caltrans Implementation of Virtual Design Construction/Civil Integrated Management. California Department of Transportation.https://dot.ca.gov/-/media/dot-media/programs/research-innovation-system-information/documents/final-reports/ca20-3178-finalreport-a11y.pdf

Colorado Department of Transportation. (2021). State Highway Utility Accommodation Code. Colorado Department of Transportation. https://www.sos.state.co.us/CCR/GenerateRulePdf.do?ruleVersionId=9244&fileName=2%20CCR%20601-18

CS Engineer Magazine. (2021). NYS DOT Delivers First Model-based Contracting 3D Project in Its History; Delivered the Project Under Budget and Restored a Critical Bridge to the Community. CS Engineer Magazine. https://csengineermag.com/nys-dot-delivers-first-model-based-contracting-3d-project-in-its-history-delivered-the-project-under-budget-and-restored-a-critical-bridge-to-the-community/

Federal Highway Administration. (2014). 4D and 5D Modeling: NYSDOT’s Approach to Optimizing Resources. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/3d/hif16024.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2015).  3D Engineered Models: Schedule, Cost and Post-Construction: Fact Sheet. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/pdfs/factsheets/edc/edc-3_factsheet_3d_engineered_models.pdf

Federal Highway Administration (2021). e-Ticketing and Digital As-Builts. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/eticketing.cfm

Federal Highway Administration. (2019). Michigan DOT Digital Delivery Working Group. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/econstruction/edc4/hif19033.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2019). Minnesota and Iowa DOT Solutions for Capturing Asset Information During Construction. Federal Highway Administration.https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/econstruction/hif19075.pdf

Iowa DOT Research. (2021). Development of Digital As-Built for Use in Future Asset Management Applications. Iowa Department of Transportation.https://ideas.iowadot.gov/subdomain/stic-incentive-funds/end/node/3410?qmzn=iKFrYf

Kentucky Transportation Center. (2019). Redefining Construction As-Built Plans to Meet Current Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Needs. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.  https://uknowledge.uky.edu/ktc_researchreports/1630/

National Cooperative Highway Research Program. (2015).  Advances in Civil Integrated Management. Scan Team Report. NCHRP Project 20-68A, Scan 13- 02.   http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP20-68A_13-02.pdf

Nevada Department of Transportation. (2021). CAD Standards and Information. Nevada Department of Transportation. https://www.dot.nv.gov/doing-business/about-ndot/ndot-divisions/engineering/design/cadd-standards-and-information

North Carolina Department of Transportation. (2020). Perspectives on Anticipated OpenRoads Designer (ORD) Technological Benefits. North Carolina Department of Transportation. https://connect.ncdot.gov/resources/CADD/OpenRoads%20Designer%20Documents/NCDOT%20Research%20and%20Innovation%20Summit_ORD%20Presentation_10-14-20_Final.pdf

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. (2020). Digital Delivery Directive 2025 Final Strategic Plan. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. https://www.penndot.gov/ProjectAndPrograms/3D2025/Documents/Final%20Strategic%20Plan%20V1.0.pdf

Utah Department of Transportation. (2021). Digital Delivery. Utah Department of Transportation. https://digitaldelivery.udot.utah.gov/pages/bdc1336e1ade43d5bac2deca0e3e4837

Virginia Department of Transportation. (2020). 3D Model Development Manual. Virginia Department of Transportation. http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/LocDes/3D_Model_Development_Manual.pdf

Virginia Department of Transportation. (2019). Instructional and Informational Memorandum. Virginia Department of Transportation. http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/LocDes/IIM/IIM118.pdf Washington State Department of Transportation. (2017). Electronic Engineering Data Standards. Washington State Department of Transportation. https://wsdot.wa.gov/publications/manuals/fulltext/M3028/ElectronicEngDataStandards.pdf

Targeted Overlay Payment Solutions (TOPS): NJDOT Example Featured

This article first appeared in the FHWA’s EDC News Weekly Newsletter of August 26th, 2021 and featured NJDOT’s application of high performance thin overlays (HPTO) as a pavement preservation tool.

Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions

Last week, we discussed a case study involving bonded concrete overlays, part of the Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS) toolbox. This week, we’ll look at how New Jersey has used high performance thin overlays (HPTO) successfully as a pavement preservation tool.

Since 2015, NJDOT has used HPTO on more than 1,000 lane miles to seal pavement and improve ride quality. Benefits include short road closures reducing impact on traffic, and addition of approximately 10 years of service life. Timing of the application is crucial. A Rutgers University study found applying HPTO to pavements while they are still in “good” condition more than doubles the service life compared to applying the product to pavements in “fair” condition.

Contractors who construct NJDOT projects have not reported constructability issues or complaints about the mix. NJDOT believes including performance requirements for the mixture, understanding treatment selection and application timing, and requiring project engineers to approve specifications are key factors in the success of HPTO as a pavement preservation tool.

Based on this research and evaluation of projects to date, NJDOT considers HPTO a cost-effective solution that provides a safe, smooth, crack and rut resistant surface that extends the life of the pavement and causes minimal impact on the road users and environment during construction.

Research Spotlight: Evaluating the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon’s Effectiveness:  A Case Study in New Jersey

A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) is a signalized, pedestrian-activated device designed to increase crossing safety. A recent study conducted by the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (BPRC), funded by NJDOT, examined the efficacy and public awareness of PHBs in New Jersey. The authors, researchers from Rowan and Rutgers universities, found a persistent need to better educate motorists and pedestrians in New Jersey on the PHB and its phases.

The five phases Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon’s (PHB) operations

The five phases Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon’s (PHB) operations

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are one of FHWA’s seven Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) countermeasures, proven methods of reducing pedestrian collisions. STEP was promoted through multiple rounds of the FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) Program. A PHB is typically placed to improve pedestrian safety at uncontrolled and mid-block crossings, in locations with high pedestrian demand and wide roadways. The treatment consists of two signal arms on each side, with pedestrian “push buttons” and a crosswalk. The PHB operates in five phases. In the first, the PHB’s signal is off. The second phase begins when a pedestrian activates it by pressing a button, prompting the signal to flash a yellow light. Then, for the third phase, the flashing transitions to a solid yellow light, communicating to drivers that they should prepare to stop. Then the light turns red, and, in the fourth phase, the pedestrian signal changes to “Walk.” After an interval, the fifth phase begins: the pedestrian signal displays a countdown timer, and the traffic signal flashes alternating red lights, telling drivers to stop and that they may proceed if the crosswalk is clear.

The study’s literature review found multiple examples of prior research demonstrating the efficacy of PHBs. In the case of Tucson, Arizona, where one of the first PHBs was deployed in the United States, one study found a 69 percent decrease in pedestrian-related crashes in the signal area. Another analysis in Tucson found a 97 percent yielding rate from drivers at PHB-equipped crossings. One of the chief findings from the literature review was that PHB signal evaluations were lacking in New Jersey. Thus, researchers aimed to more systematically analyze PHBs in the state.

The authors found ten implemented examples of PHBs throughout the state, from Bergen County to Atlantic County. For more in-depth research, they selected signals in three different community types (urban, suburban, and campus area), in Morristown, Medford, and New Brunswick, New Jersey, to undergo video analysis.

The five phases Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon’s (PHB) operations

The five phases Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon’s (PHB) operations

One commonality observed in all three locations was an apparent confusion for motorists concerning the fifth phase, in which the signal flashes red, indicating that drivers should stop and then proceed with caution. In New Brunswick, 100 percent of observed motorists remained stopped, even after the intersection had been cleared. In Morristown, the vast majority of pedestrians (91.3%) failed to use the PHB during the morning period, and also failed to do so in the evening (83%). The authors attribute such behavior to the PHB timing being linked to two nearby traffic signals, contributing to extra delay after the crossing button has been pressed. When inconvenient, it seems, pedestrians may opt to cross on their own.

To better understand the familiarity of pedestrians and motorists in New Jersey with PHBs, the researchers designed an online survey that was sent to 79,567 randomly selected email addresses from 30 communities across the state. While respondents indicated some confusion as to how PHBs functioned, a plurality indicated that they would be very likely or somewhat likely to support  implementation in their own community. A majority of respondents (85.9%) reported that they had never heard of PHBs, and later indicated that completing the short survey had increased their knowledge of the safety treatment, showing the potential benefit of more public education about their functionality.

The report concludes by stating that while PHBs are proven to be effective at increasing pedestrian crossing safety, a lack of public awareness on the part of both drivers and pedestrians currently limits the effectiveness of these devices. The researchers suggest updating the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s Driver’s Handbook to include the PHB, and to differentiate the flashing red signals at a PHB where the driver must yield and then proceed if the crosswalk is clear, from the flashing red signals at railroad crossings where the driver is required to stop and remain stopped. This addition could be complemented with a public education campaign to teach pedestrians and drivers about the intricacies of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons.

The New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (BPRC) works to promote a safer and more accessible walking and bicycling environment in the state. The Center, located at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers, is supported by NJDOT through funding from FHWA. Further information technical assistance, resources for Complete Streets, and current research is available on the BPRC’s website.


Resources

Federal Highway Administration. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons. Federal Highway Administration. https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/ped_hybrid_beacon/

New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. (2020). Evaluating the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon’s Effectiveness: A Case Study in New Jersey. New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. http://njbikeped.org/portfolio/evaluating-pedestrian-hybrid-beacons-effectiveness/

NJDOT Tech Transfer. (2019). What is a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon? NJDOT Tech Transfer. Video. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2019/09/27/njdot-safety-countermeasures-videos/

NJDOT Tech Transfer. (2020). STEP-Aligned HAWK Signal Installed in Bergen County. NJDOT Tech Transfer. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2020/03/20/step-aligned-hawk-signal-installed-in-bergen-county/

 

Launching the UAS Program: STIC Incentive Funding Grant – Final Report

Click for report

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, were promoted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as one of the Every Day Counts Round 5 (EDC-5) innovations. In 2017, the NJDOT Bureau of Aeronautics applied for and received a NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive Program Funding grant to purchase equipment and provide training to evaluate the use of UAS for applications within NJDOT. Prior research had determined that this innovative technology could improve safety and efficiency and reduce costs.

The final report, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS): Purchase and Training, describes the use of the STIC funding to assist in establishing the UAS program within the Bureau of Aeronautics.  The report describes the training curriculum and two use cases — high mast inspection and traffic incident management — and offers lessons learned and best practices.

The STIC grant, in combination with two other grants, enabled the Bureau to advance UAS within NJDOT. The innovation is now considered institutionalized within the agency.  A video, Drone Technology at NJDOT, highlights the efforts to launch and integrate UAS in NJDOT operations.

FHWA offers up to $100,000 to each STIC each year. You can find out more about the STIC Incentive Program here.

Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NJDOT Example Featured

This article first appeared in the FHWA’s EDC News Weekly Newsletter of April 29th, 2021 and featured how NJDOT has applied UHPC for bridge preservation and repair.

In the final week, we’ll highlight the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), which has recently used UHPC in multiple projects for bridge P&R.

NJDOT was familiar with the benefits of UHPC compared to conventional concrete through its use in field cast connections for precast bridge decks for re-decking projects. NJDOT had been looking for a new overlay preservation system for aging bridge decks that would enhance and extend the service life of their existing structures. However, the NJDOT had not used UHPC as a bridge deck overlay. NJDOT decided to install three UHPC bridge deck overlays as part of a research project contract. One of these projects, which was completed on a bridge spanning the Newark Turnpike, included both a UHPC bridge deck overlay and field-cast UHPC joint headers.

This curved 3-span bridge, originally built in 1979, feeds nearly 30,000 vehicles per day from the New Jersey Turnpike onto I–280. The heavy traffic and the impact of de-icing salts resulted in corrosion of the reinforcing steel in the existing bridge deck, as well as the deterioration of all abutment and pier expansion joints.

Prior to installation of the UHPC overlay and field cast UHPC headers, the existing asphalt overlay was removed, as were the deteriorated expansion joints. A new UHPC header expansion joint solution was installed, and after installation the finished UHPC overlay was covered with asphalt. The resulting 340-foot UHPC overlay is currently the longest continuous overlay installation in North America.

The overlay and the other two installations included in the project showed that preserving bridge decks with a UHPC overlay will provide NJDOT with durable, long-lasting bridge decks and will extend the service life of the structures. Additionally, the bridge overlays showed that UHPC overlay construction methods can minimize traffic interruptions and shorten the total construction time.

Post card style image reads: Built a Better Mouse Trap: National Recognition Program for Transportation Innovation

ANNOUNCEMENT: NJLTAP – Innovating at the Local Public Works Level: Can you Build a Better Mousetrap? (Webinar)

The New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJLTAP) will host a webinar on the FHWA’s Build a Better Mousetrap program’s collaboration with local technical assistance programs across the country.  

The webinar will present examples of new tools and processes that have been developed and celebrated by the program—innovations that reduce cost, increase safety, and contribute to a more efficient transportation system.  

The event will be held on Wednesday, August 25, from 10am to 11am. Those interested in attending may register here.  

Reads: Lunchtime Tech Talk! The NJDOT's Pavement Support Program (PSP), Goals, Deliverables, and the Future, Thursday July 22, 2021, 12pm to 1:15pm

Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: NJDOT’s Pavement Support Program—Goals, Deliverables and the Future

Dr. Thomas Bennert, of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure (CAIT) at Rutgers University, presented on Thursday, July 22, on his work leading the Pavement Support Program (PSP) for NJDOT’s Pavement & Drainage Management and Technology Unit. Dr. Bennert discussed in detail PSP’s current research and applications, explaining how a variety of innovative materials and technologies are being developed and applied to improve pavement performance across the state.

Dr. Bennert's talk provided an overview of the pavement program’s recent deliverables, as well as highlighted the future goals of the program. The PSP has several objectives and touches upon many disciplines from materials evaluation to supporting pavement management activities to addressing pavement design needs to assisting in training and workforce development. The PSP serves as an extension of the NJDOT workforce activities under the direction of the Pavement & Drainage Management and Technology Unit at NJDOT, which also helps to support the needs of the NJDOT Materials Bureau to inform materials characterization for more accurate pavement design and evaluation.

Since 2006, the PSP has assisted NJDOT through research and technical assistance related to pavement performance. Because of this continual, fifteen-year operation, data is available today that demonstrates the positive effects of the program’s work, such as how various asphalt composites have performed over time in comparison to traditional asphalt mixes.

Slide reading NJDOT Pavement System, how it's going. A bar graph of deficient, fair, and good pavement statuses, with deficient tending down since 2006, and good trending upwards.

Data indicates a steady upward trend in the condition of New Jersey’s highway pavement, due to the sustained implementation of PSP’s research and deployment of various pavement preservation treatments

Dr. Bennert organized his talk by the seven major support tasks of the PSP, highlighting the purpose, examples and upcoming activities for each task. For the program’s first task, Innovative Materials, the program has focused on the development and improvement of specifications for roadway pavements, such as asphalt and concrete, to extend the life of the pavement. High Performance Thin Overlay (HPTO) was one of several examples whose purpose, design attributes and benefits were discussed. This pavement treatment improves rut and crack resistance, and extends the life expectancy of some pavements by over five years.

Dr. Bennert also touched on the rationale and challenges of applying another materials innovation, High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST), which was promoted as an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative in 2015. While horizontal curves make up only 5 percent of U.S. roadways, more than 25 percent of total roadway fatalities occur on these sections. One way to increase friction in these areas is to apply an HFST, though the pavement must be in good condition. In New Jersey, rapid temperature swings can affect the epoxy on degraded asphalt, creating shallow potholes. To counter this failure, Dr. Bennert and his team have developed both a pre-screening protocol to determine whether a curve is suited for HFST, and a different adhesive more suited to asphalt.

Slide reads Task 2 - Pavement Bonding (Tack Coats & Bond Strength Test), with immages of defromed pavement. A graphic shows how tension between two layers of pavement that are not properly bonded creates space for friction. Bullet points read: Pavement construction requires construction layers in "lifts." Pavement design is conducted assuming layers are "fully bonded," Poor bonding in HMA layer is associated with, reduced fatigue life, increased drutting, and slippage, cracking, and instability.

The program team developed ways to improve pavement bonding in roadway construction

PSP is also tasked with researching innovative practices and technologies to improve the efficacy of the paving process. One example that Dr. Bennert shared involved researching ways to improve the pavement bonding. Two common problems are slippage, where the top layer does not adhere properly and begins to slide away, and more widespread tension issues, in which failure to bond causes uneven loads, warping the pavement. To avoid premature failure, the program has developed performance-based specifications for tack coats (the term for the adhesive layer between tiers of asphalt), a testing mechanism to better understand the properties of tack coats, and new criteria for construction practices to ensure that pavement is put together properly.

The PSP includes a pavement management system support task to assist NJDOT in the collection of data, the management and quality control of data, and the application of data to inform decision-making priorities. For example, the NJDOT Pavement Management group conducts yearly pavement condition assessments to help forecast needs of pavement activities and funding allocations to optimize budgetary resources for pavement preservation and larger rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. This process uses Pavement Management Systems (PMS) condition and program mapping, and future work is expected to continue to incorporate GIS mapping models to create an even more comprehensive picture.

Until recently, the status of the state’s many miles of pavement has been historically performed using an employee’s vision and judgment. Instead, PSP is looking to deploy cameras and computer-based processing power along roadways to automate data collection for developing surface distress index ratings, and even to calibrate and predict the infrastructure’s future performance to inform Pavement Design.

Slide is a map of New Jersey with colored lines across its roads, reflecting pavement conditions. Text to the left reads Developing Visual Tools that NJDOT PMS can utilize for programming and reporting, Construction programming, Planning, Pavement Preservation, and Rehab and Reconstruction

New methods in data collection and mapping allow for a more comprehensive picture of pavement conditions across the state

Finally, PSP engages in policy analysis, develops white papers on current and emerging practices, and provides technology transfer and trainings for NJDOT. Such work includes Cost Benefit Analyses (CBAs) to determine the cost effectiveness of new materials, tackling the question of whether the additional costs to manufacture can be justified by the additional years added to the roadway’s life cycle. Dr. Bennert shared slides showing how CBAs of HPTO and several other hybrid asphalt mixes had higher Benefit/Cost Ratios than traditional Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA). The program engages in trainings and presentations with NJDOT regularly, presenting on research and technological innovations, and facilitating technology transfer and continuity for newer staff.

Dr. Bennert concluded his presentation by commending NJDOT as a national leader in performance testing for asphalt and handling of composite pavements. The Pavement Support Program will continue to address the immediate needs of the Pavement & Drainage Management and Technology Unit at NJDOT, sustaining their research, development, and implementation of cutting-edge pavement technologies. “What we’re doing here is making a big impact in the state.” Dr. Bennert said.

Afterward, Dr. Bennert answered audience questions in a brief Q&A.

Q. How does New Jersey compare to other states in our use of high performance thin overlay (HPTO)?
Dr. Bennert: We’re working with FHWA on the EDC-6 rollout of HPTO. We use it significantly more than most states, besides Texas. New Jersey is a leader on performance testing in general.

Q. How widespread is the use of the High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST) in New Jersey?
Dr. Bennert: While I don’t have the crash reduction data, I do know that it’s been used successfully by the state and some municipalities as well. As shown earlier, there have been some failures with the technology’s application, which we are now working to identify the reasons for failure and reduce through our research.

Q. As reported in the HFST guidelines, why do you think an early drop in skid resistance was observed in the treatment’s application, despite the very hard aggregate that was used?
Dr. Bennert: Simply, it is due to the material loosening in the epoxy. The embedment depth of that aggregate is very important. If it’s too deep, the aggregate is almost drowning in the epoxy, and if it too shallow, it can pull out very easily as vehicles travel over it. The recommendation is to monitor the HFST over the first few years. Because HFST has a limited shelf-life, monitoring friction is very important.

Q. How many sub-consultants do you have on this project, and which private consultants are contracted as sub-consultants?
Dr. Bennert: Currently, the only group that we have working with us on the contract this year is the company that manufactures the software for the pavement management system. This can change based on the needs of Pavement & Drainage Management and Technology Unit at NJDOT.

Q. Could you speak on pavement mix testing for future climate concerns?
Dr. Bennert: We have tests and thresholds for how the material should be performing, and additional heat will often stiffen the material a bit more, which can further age the pavement. We could get some increased, accelerated stiffening. PSP has been working with NJDOT on test methods to identify appropriate asphalt materials and test methods to help identify materials that are prone to aging, which could be especially useful to address climate concerns.

Q. What is the future of Cold Mix Asphalt and its potential use on heavily truck trafficked New Jersey highways?
Dr. Bennert: In New Jersey, we don’t have low volume roads where we could put material out without an overlay. Without some kind of confinement, the material could easily break apart. I’m looking forward to the rollout of central plant technology, which will allow us to take material from a project and put that back, an almost 100 percent recycling of the material for a project’s base application. This would be a base application to help reduce the recycled asphalt pavement stockpiles in the state.

Q. Did you test Ultra-Thin Friction Course and how does it compare to High Performance Thin Overlay?
Dr. Bennert: Ultra-Thin Friction Course can be thought of as a treatment option between an Open-Graded Friction Course and a Chip Seal. It’s used more for pavement preservation, rather than structure, but it does a good job at sealing off the pavement. The High Performance Thin Overlay is thicker, and helps to provide structural integrity of the pavement, both sealing it and adding rutting and cracking resistance. There’s a difference in the thickness of the materials, and the targeted applications.

 

A recording of the webinar is available here, (or to the right).

Dr. Bennert’s presentation can be found here.

Resources

Federal Highway Administration. Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/targeted_overlay_pavement.cfm

Bennert T. and D. Pezeshki. (2015). Performance Testing for HMA Quality Assurance. Report, Rutgers, Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Technology. FHWA-NJ-2015-010. https://cait.rutgers.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/fhwa-nj-2015-010.pdf

NJDOT Technology Transfer. Pavement Preservation at NJDOT. Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1wlnB8AQ-g&t=128s

ANNOUNCEMENT: FY 2021 AID Demonstration Program Information Session

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced the FY 2021 Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration Program and will make up to $10 million in grants will through Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) 693JJ321NF-AIDDP (link). The AID Demonstration program provides funding as an incentive to accelerate the implementation and adoption of innovation in highway transportation. Eligible activities may involve any phase of a highway transportation project between project planning and project delivery, including planning, financing, operation, structures, materials, pavements, environment, and construction. The FHWA will provide AID Demonstration grants to eligible State DOTs, Federal Land Management Agencies, and tribal governments.

Key NOFO Dates

Notice of Intent to Apply Deadline: August 3, 2021: 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
Application Submission Deadline: September 28, 2021; 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

The FHWA will host an AID Demonstration Information Session to provide an overview of the FY 2021 program. Participation is not mandatory in order to submit an application under NOFO 693JJ321NF-AIDDP. However, potential applicants are encouraged to participate. Please join us on July 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm (Eastern Time). There is no registration required to attend the Information Session. To join, simply CLICK HERE to be taken directly to the virtual meeting space. This will be a MS Teams Live Event and will be recorded.