STIC Incentive Program Funds are Available!


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) offers STIC Incentive Funding, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices. The NJ STIC receives $125,000 each year and state and local public agencies in transportation are eligible to apply.

To be eligible, a project or activity must have a statewide impact in fostering a culture for innovation or in making an innovation a standard practice, and must align with FHWA’s Technology Innovation Deployment Program goals.  The NJ STIC will consider projects and activities that advance innovations such as the Every Day Counts (EDC) innovations that are being promoted by FHWA.  

Proposed STIC project ideas are prioritized by the NJ STIC for each federal fiscal year. Selected projects are then submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for approval. The request submittal does not guarantee funding nor award of funding.

The NJDOT Bureau of Research, Innovation and Information Transfer is ready to answer your questions and assist applicants. For more information on eligibility, proposal requirements, past funded projects, and more, please visit: the New Jersey STIC Incentive Fund Requests webpage.


Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey – An Update

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair is a model innovation that was featured in FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program (EDC-6).  UHPC is recognized as an innovative new material that can be used to extend the life of bridges. Its enhanced strength reduces the need for repairs, adding to the service life of a facility.   

This Q&A article has been prepared following an interview with Jess Mendenhall and Samer Rabie of NJDOT, who provided an update on the pilot projects of UHPC around the state. The interview has been edited for clarity. 

Q.  While EDC-6 was underway, we spoke with your unit about the pilot projects being undertaken with UHPC.  Some initial lessons were shared subsequently in a featured presentation given to the NJ STIC.  Can you update us on results of those projects, and did they yield any benefits in the fields of safety or environmental considerations?

For the NJDOT Pilot Project, the thickness of the overlay was limited by the required depth for effectiveness, as well as the cost of the UHPC material and environmental permitting. To mitigate environmental permitting, we avoided any modifications to the existing elevations and geometry of the structure. Essentially, any removal of asphalt and concrete needed to be replaced to its original elevations.

UHPC overlays can significantly extend the service of bridge decks and even increase a structure’s capacity. Although safety improvements were not the primary objective of this application, there were rideability and surface drainage considerations in the design to enhance the conditions for the road users.

The environmental impacts of structural designs must be compared on the cradle-to-grave use cycle of the design at a project scale.  Having a focus on sustainability is imperative; however, it is more meaningful when resiliency is also considered.  While the greenhouse gas emissions of a volume of UHPC are higher than those of the same volume of concrete, UHPC enables the reduction in the amount of material required in structural designs and improves the durability of structures. Its exceptional compressive strength and toughness allow for the reduction of material usage. By minimizing maintenance requirements and extending the lifespan of infrastructure, UHPC reduces the consumption of materials, energy, and resources over time.

For example, we installed this overlay on 4 bridges as a preservation technique. Had we done nothing, they would have lasted approximately 10 more years. During that time they would have needed routine deck patching resulting in further contamination of the decks and in a condition that is no longer preservable and requires total deck replacement, with large volumes of concrete and much more environmental impact.

UHPC allowed us to take these decks that are still in decent shape and preserve them now with a relatively thin layer to make them exceed the service life of the superstructure and substructure.

Q. Has UHPC been incorporated into the design manual?

Figure 1. UHPC being placed by workers

It is not in our current design manual, but we are working on the revised design manual. UHPC is presently being used for all closure pores between prefabricated components, overlays, and link-slabs. I don’t think we are ready to standardize it quite yet. We used it on the 4 bridges and it will continue to be used, but we will not standardize it until the industry is more predictable and we get more experience to develop thorough guidelines and specifications. It is incorporated into projects as a special provision with non-standard items.

Q. Have you been receiving more requests to use this technology from around the state?

It is much more commonly specified by designers or requested for use on many of our projects. We have responded to nationwide inquiries from state transportation agencies and universities seeking our specifications or input on specific testing and procedures.

Q. What efforts do you think can be taken to encourage more adoption amongst local agencies, counties, etc.?

We are keen on inviting the counties to any training or workshop that we are hosting as well as sharing our lessons learned thus far.  I think they are aware of it.

Q. What kind of hurdles do you think exist that may limit widespread adoption?

It is possible that initial cost and industry experience with the material are still major limiting factors in adoption. We have also learned from specialty UHPC contractors that the innovation and availability of construction equipment geared for UHPC implementation are also lacking.  Bringing into focus the life cycle costs and with more implementations, we think many of these hurdles will be overcome. Additionally, once UHPC is used more in routine maintenance the implementation would be more frequent and widespread; we know there is interest specifically in UHPC shotcrete once it is available.

Q. Are you familiar with any training, workshops, or conferences that have been done for staff or their partners on this topic?

We participated in the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) conference in Miami, Florida, the International Bridge Conference (IBC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the New York State DOT Peer Exchange. In Delaware, we presented at the Third International Interactive Symposium on UHPC. We also participated in the development of a UHPC course for the AASHTO Technical Training Solutions (TTS formerly TC3) which is now published on the AASHTO TTS portal and available on our LMS internally. 

Q. Do you think there is any special training needed for the construction workforce to start using this technology?

Absolutely, the AASHTO TTS course and the EDC-6 workshops are geared towards the design and construction, TTS is more focused in the Construction. It’s an introduction to what to expect and how to implement it. UHPC is often used for repair projects, and many contractors may not have the experience or comfort with using the material.

Figure 2. UHPC Testing at Rutgers’ CAIT

Q. What are the results of the pilot projects of UHPC?

This Pilot projects program demonstrated that UHPC overlays can be successfully placed on various structures, the work can be completed rapidly to minimize traffic impacts — we estimated roughly four weeks of traffic disruption per stage, and the benefits of UHPC can help preserve the existing infrastructure. Compared to deck replacement, UHPC overlays can rehabilitate a bridge deck at exceptional speeds with unique constructability and traffic patterns, as implemented in all four structures. However, limitations exist, and further research is necessary to investigate the issues identified in the pilot project, but the potential of this material outweighs the existing limitations.

Q. Has there been long-term testing data developed to gather performance data?

To assess the performance of the UHPC overlay, we put together a testing program to include NDT as well as physical sampling and lab testing. This objective will be accomplished by first establishing baseline conditions through an initial survey followed by periodic monitoring of the UHPC-overlaid bridges over succeeding years. This will help NJDOT assess the performance of UHPC as an overlay. Overall, the results show the overlay bond is performing well.

Q. Has the data from the pilot project been used to research further applications?

Further applications for UHPC overlay are on new bridge decks/superstructures, and the data from UHPC overlay research project are being used for these projects. There is an interest in header reconstruction with UHPC. If deck joints need to be replaced, they should be constructed with conventional HPC with UHPC at the surface to provide the same overlay protection over the entire structure. Also, self-consolidating and self-leveling UHPC was preferred for the full-depth UHPC header placement to ensure proper consolidation around tight corners and reinforcement. This will be further explored for maintenance operations as well.

For future projects, in lieu of full-depth header reconstruction in a single lift, a partial depth header removal and reconstruction or alternatively two lifts of header concrete should be evaluated to coincide with the deck overlay, in which case the benefits of the fast cure times from UHPC can still be realized. Two of the four bridges experienced air voids throughout the placement. A UHPC slurry with no

fibers was placed in the identified air voids; since the voids contained exposed fibers, they were considered to create adequate bonding with the UHPC slurry.

Resources

NJDOT Technology Transfer (2021, November). Stronger, More Resilient Bridges: Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey.  Interview with Pranav Lathia, Retrieved from:  https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2021/11/29/uhpc-stronger-more-resilient-bridges/

Mendenhall, Jess and Rabie, Samer. (2021, October 20). UHPC Overlays for Bridge Preservation—Lessons Learned. New Jersey Department of Transportation. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NJDOT-UHPC-Overlay-Research-Project-EDC-6-Workshop.pdf

New Jersey Department of Transportation. (2021, October 20). NJDOT Workshop Report. New Jersey Department of Transportation. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NJDOT-UHPC-Workshop-Final-Report.pdf

Rabie, Samer and Jess Mendenhall (2022, December). Design, Construction, and Evaluation of UHPC Bridge Deck Overlays for NJDOT.  NJ STIC Presentation and Recording.  Retrieved from:  https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2022/12/18/nj-stic-4th-quarter-2022-meeting/

Q&A: What’s EPIC2 about Internally Cured Concrete?

Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete (EPIC2) is a model innovation in the latest round of the FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program (EDC-7). EPIC2 is recognized as an innovative new technique that can be used to extend the life of concrete bridges and roads. Internal curing increases concrete’s resistance to early cracking, allowing the production of higher-performance concretes that may last more than 75 years.

This Q&A article has been prepared following an interview and follow-up correspondence with Samer Rabie and Jess Mendenhall of the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The Q&A interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


Q. What is Internally Cured Concrete, and how does it differ from traditional concrete?

A common issue with high performance concrete (HPC) bridge decks is that soon after the curing is done, they develop fine shrinkage cracks spread throughout the deck. Even this fine cracking can reduce the service life. In the past, we have used crack sealing materials as a mitigation effort, but when we learned about internally cured concrete, we shifted our focus to see if we could adopt it in New Jersey.

Figure 1. Illustrating the difference between conventional and internal curing

Autogenous or chemical shrinkage is specific to HPC concrete, where the w/c ratio is less than 0.42. It is due to self-desiccation, which is water consumed by the cementitious materials after setting, and that is one where internal curing can help.

There are multiple methods to implement internal curing. The method that we are considering involves  modifying a conventional concrete mixture to an internally cured concrete mixture by replacing a portion of the fine aggregate (sand) with lightweight fine aggregate. This lightweight fine aggregate (LWFA) is saturated with internal curing water, typically estimated at 7lbs of water for every 100lbs of cementitious materials used in the mixture. Next, the amount of LWA required for this amount of internal curing water is determined based on the mass of the internal curing water and the absorption of the LWFA. Once the total volume and mass of lightweight aggregate are determined, the volume (and mass) of the fine lightweight aggregate are adjusted so that the volume of LWFA and fine aggregate in the internally cured mixture is equal to the volume of the fine aggregate in the original mixture.

The LWFA will provide internal curing water within the concrete mix during curing, and prevent a condition that occurs in low W/CM ratio systems where the capillary water within the concrete matrix pores will be consumed without complete cement hydration, which can lead to cracking of the concrete matrix.

Q. How does Internally Cured Concrete improve performance?

Internal curing improves the performance of concrete by increasing the reaction of the cementitious materials and reducing internal stresses that typically develop in high-cementitious content mixtures if insufficient internal curing water is present. However, in addition to conventional curing which supplies water from the surface of concrete, internal curing provides curing water from the aggregates within the concrete. This provides a source of moisture from inside the concrete mixture, improving its resistance to cracking and overall durability.

Q. Are there any limitations on the use of internally cured concrete?

Internal curing is extremely versatile and  can generally be used anywhere traditional concrete is used. Most of the process is the same, and aggregates can be pre-saturated as needed. It follows the norms of industrial concrete production, making it accessible to any producer already familiar with the state of practice. Most of the implementation process is similar to conventional concrete.

Figure 2. Workers applying internally cured concrete to a bridge deck.

Q. What New Jersey sites were picked for use in internally cured concrete, and why?

We started with a list of all of our bridge projects, specifically projects that needed deck replacement and superstructure replacement. We then further targeted projects that allowed us to focus on implementation and quick delivery time rather than constructability and other additional challenges. We looked at projects with straightforward staging and geometry and prioritized projects with twin bridges (for example, northbound and southbound). This would allow us to do one bridge with traditional HPC and the other with internally cured HPC, providing us with an excellent controlled opportunity to study and compare the results.

Various sites have been screened throughout the state. Currently, eight bridges are under consideration, with a project scope of work of deck and superstructure replacement. The rationale included the project scope of work, CIP deck slabs, project schedule, staging constraints, and avoiding heavily skewed bridges.

Q. Have any life cycle cost analyses been performed?

We have not prepared one ourselves, but we do plan on doing so in the future. First, we will need to get these projects out to construction and get actual cost data. We’re expecting higher upfront costs, but if cracking is reduced then the life cycle costs and future maintenance and reconstruction needs can be significantly reduced.

Q. In what ways do you think people can be better educated on the implementation of EPIC2?

We have presented to many of our stakeholders in our capital program to discuss the topic, and now that it is an EDC initiative,  decision makers are acknowledging its value. The Federal Highway Administration is also planning on conducting workshops and peer exchanges between contractors, concrete suppliers, and other agencies like New York State DOT, which have already done this. All of these are extremely valuable.

We first heard about internally cured concrete during a peer exchange in 2021 with the New York State DOT. It was under the banner of EDC-6, and they took us out on several bridges where we noted that they have significantly reduced the typical shrinkage cracking that is common with High Performance Concrete. So that was an eye opening experience for us, and I know it would be valuable to others. The fact that it is now its own initiative in EDC-7 helps facilitate implementation.

Q. Is special training needed for contractors to work with internally cured concrete?

From our research and experience with other agencies, the finishing should not be significantly different from conventional HPC. The process at that point will be almost identical to placing traditional concrete, so there won’t be any learning curve or time spent on getting workers to learn how to deal with a new material. In fact, most contractors say that the mixture is easier to work due to improved pumpability as the material is quite smooth. I think the crucial step will be to coordinate with concrete production plants that are creating the mixes.

Figure 3. States that have implemented EPIC2 on their roads or bridges

Q. Where else has internally cured concrete been implemented?

So far it has been used in bridge decks in many states, including New York, Ohio, and North Carolina, among others. It has also been used in pavement and pavements in Kansas, Texas and Michigan.

Q. What is the future of internally cured concrete in New Jersey?

We hope these projects will be successful, and that our current crop of projects will result in some valuable lessons learned. In the long term, I believe the goal would be that all of the bridge decks would use an internally cured mixture. I can also see this being used for patching and deck repair jobs. But ultimately, the goal would be for this to become the new standard for bridge decks across the state.


Resources

Federal Highway Administration. 2023 Internally Curing Concrete Produces EPIC2 Results. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/innovator/issue98/page_01.html

Federal Highway Administration. 2023. Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_7/docs/EDC-7FactsheetEPIC2.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, June). Concrete Clips: Internal Curing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6WREFmacaM

New York State DOT Standard Specifications (2021). Standard Specifications. New York State DOT. https://www.dot.ny.gov/main/business-center/engineering/specifications/busi-e-standards-usc/usc-repository/2021_9_specs_usc_vol2.pdf

National Concrete Pavement Technology Center Internal Curing Resources. (2022). Internal Curing. Iowa State University. https://cptechcenter.org/internal-curing/

Internal Curing. (2020). Oregon State University. https://engineering.oregonstate.edu/CCE/research/asphalt-materials-performance-lab/materials-research-concrete-materials/Internal-Curing

Pacheco, Jose. (2021, October). USDOT Workshop Report, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Wisconsin Department of Transportation. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/62607

Weiss, Joseph. (2015, July). Internal Curing Technical Brief. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/concrete/pubs/hif16006.pdf

NJ STIC 4th Quarter 2023 Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) virtually convened its 4th Quarter Meeting on December 13, 2023. This event provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from the CIA Teams about their progress towards EDC-7 goals and to hear several presentations on mobility and operations topics piloting communications technologies. The agenda for the meeting was distributed in advance of the event.

Welcome Remarks. Amanda Gendek, NJDOT Bureau of Research Manager, greeted those in attendance and opened the meeting. She gave an overview of the day’s agenda and its featured speakers on Mobility and Operations topics describing pilot projects. She also took note of two new changes to the NJ STIC leadership team introducing the new Director of Statewide Planning, Megan Fackler, and the new Assistant Commissioner of Statewide Planning, Safety & Capital Investment, Eric Powers.

FHWA Updates. Christopher Paige, Innovation Coordinator and Community Planner from the FHWA NJ Division Office, provided FHWA updates. Mr. Paige noted upcoming deadlines and the availability of resources, stating the first round of progress report for the EDC-7 round were extended to April 2024. He emphasized that recorded webinars and other resources supporting the EDC-7 innovations are available at the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation website. Mr. Paige also encouraged participants to consider pursuing Accelerated Innovation Demonstration (AID) Grants for FY 2024 and noted the recent deadline for FY 2023 had just passed. Additionally, he advised subscribing to the EDC newsletter for updates on transportation innovation activities.

Core Innovation Areas (CIA) Updates. The Core Innovation Area (CIA) Team leaders gave updates on their progress toward fulfilling the deployment goals for their respective innovative initiatives under EDC-7. The updates were given by CIA Team leaders from the NJDOT and FHWA, covering EDC-7 initiatives under the auspices of the CIA Teams for: Safety; Infrastructure Preservation; Mobility and Operations; Organizational Support & Improvement; Mobility and Operations; and Planning and Environment. Each team’s presentation provided insights into their ongoing projects and highlighted some of the milestones and challenges to meeting the goals for the innovations.

Vandana Mathur introduced the presenters who gave mobility and operations-themed presentations that highlighted how communications technologies are being piloted to support more informed decision-making by NJDOT and to manage the operations of transportation systems to ensure the safety of state’s transportation users and workers.

Mr. Murphy gave an overview of the types of operations and mobility vehicles deployed with weather savvy instrumentation to achieve statewide coverage in outlining the rationale for expansion of the program.

Feature Presentation, Theme #1 — Expansion of the NJDOT Weather Savvy Pilot Program. Thomas Murphy from NJDOT gave an update of the progress of the Weather Savvy Pilot Program aimed at managing and monitoring road conditions during weather events to ensure safety of motorists. The presentation highlighted how trucks have been outfitted with advanced sensors in partnership with a skilled private sector partner. Currently, the program encompasses 24 trucks, strategically distributed to cover major roads across the state. These equipped vehicles play a crucial role in tracking and communicating roadway conditions, contributing significantly to informed maintenance and safety-preserving decisions by sharing this information with central command centers. Looking ahead, there are goals to significantly increase the number of Weather Savvy-equipped vehicles, aiming to reach into the hundreds.

Mr. Rivera introduced the truck parking web portal, highlighting dashboard display measures – for example, vehicle entries, lot utilization, dwell times, and exits — tracked in real-time at a Harding Area truck rest stop that was piloted.

Feature Presentation, Theme #2 — NJDOT Pilot Tests of Truck Parking Information System (TPIS). Luis Rivera from NJDOT discussed the agency’s truck parking pilot program and its recent advancements. He detailed the installation process of micro radar sensors, a key component in the system, which involves precise measurements, coring, cleaning, and securing the sensors with epoxy. Mr. Rivera also introduced the truck parking web portal, designed to offer real-time occupancy data and analytics for rest areas. Highlighting the program’s expansion, he mentioned that it initially began at the Harding Rest Area and has since extended to the rest area at Carneys Point. Mr. Rivera elaborated on the advanced technologies deployed at these locations, including traffic microwave sensors for non-intrusive vehicle detection, CCTV cameras, and pavement sensors, and underscored the program’s commitment to leveraging technology.

Feature Presentation, Theme #3 — No Trucks in the Left Lane Notifications. Kimberly Ferguson from NJDOT explained how NJDOT uses the DriveWyze notification system to improve roadway safety through communication notifications to truck drivers through a phone application and their mandatory electronic logging devices (ELDs). The notifications, strategically placed approximately every 15 miles on multi-lane (3-plus) roadways, are part of an effort to regulate truck lane usage and enhance traffic flow. To determine the optimal locations of these “No Trucks in Left Lane” alerts, Ms. Ferguson described how the NJDOT team has undertaken practical experiments by driving the roadways themselves, ensuring the notifications were helpful and not overwhelming for the truck drivers. This initiative reflects a targeted approach to improve safety and traffic flow on multi-lane roadways.

Feature Presentation, Theme #4 — Traffic Incident Management Outreach Tracker. Ms. Ferguson also discussed the Traffic Incident Management (TIM) outreach tracker in her presentation at the NJ STIC 4th Quarter 2023 Meeting. This tracker is integral to the TIM program, which focuses on training first responders in traffic incident management. The goal for 2023 was to train 5,000 first responders, and while this target was not fully met, significant progress was made with 62 percent of the goal achieved. The TIM outreach tracker plays a crucial role in monitoring the progress of this training initiative. It helps keep track of the number of trained individuals and the effectiveness of the outreach efforts. Ms. Ferguson highlighted the ongoing efforts to increase the number of trained responders, mentioning regular weekly and biannual meetings that support this aim.

NJ STIC Participants Interactive Exercise. Ms. Gendek facilitated an interactive online session with attendees, who were invited to answer a series of questions using their cell phones. The exercise sought to gauge from attendees their perception of the progress towards reaching the deployment goals for the respective EDC-7 innovative initiatives. The session invited feedback and engagement from the participants and enhanced the collaborative aspect of the meeting. The questions invited respondents to consider the deployment status, current challenges, and forms of assistance still needed to reach deployment goals. The exercise sought to solicit from attendees their suggestions for model “innovative” practices and accomplishments that should be featured at future NJ STIC meetings, in future “innovation case study” videos, and in other technical assistance training materials and communications. The results of the interactive exercise are shared here.

Announcements and Reminders

NJDOT Technology Transfer Website Reminder. Attendees were reminded to refer to the NJDOT Technology Transfer website and, in particular, the NJ STIC section. The website is useful for staying up-to-date on NJ STIC activities and developments and for accessing a wide array of NJ STIC content, including an overview of the NJ STIC, the NJ STIC Charter, past meeting summaries, the status of current and past innovative initiatives, NJ STIC Grant Incentive Funding information, and articles and other materials that spotlight innovation and past NJ innovation accomplishments.

NJ Transportation Ideas Portal. Ms. Gendek encouraged attendees to participate in the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal. Available to public for submissions and comments, the portal is open to ideas for future research and implementation studies, and seeks to review and share proposals for innovation topics with the Innovation Advisory Team to determine feasibility for future actions. The deadline for research idea submissions in time for the current round of solicitations is coming soon, December 31, 2023. However, she noted that the portal is always open to new research and innovation idea submissions for consideration for future collaborative efforts and investments.

Innovation Grant Program Announcement. Dr. Venkiteela gave a “sneak-preview” of an upcoming NJDOT Innovation Grant program that is under development. The focus of this initiative will be to encourage innovations, integrate technologies, and foster public-private collaborations. Set to launch in April 2024, the program represents a significant step towards supporting and advancing innovative practices in transportation.

STIC Incentive Funding. Ms. Gendek reminded participants of the availability of STIC Incentive Grants of up to $100,000 annually. This funding is available to support the advancement of innovative initiatives underway, and other noteworthy innovations.

Meeting Schedule Change for 2024. Ms. Gendek mentioned that the schedule for future meetings will be changed to a triannual schedule in 2024. This change will not affect the NJ STIC’s commitment to participate in the national FHWA efforts to promote and accelerate transportation innovations. The council will participate in National STIC network calls and its participation in the next EDC Summit will continue.

Acknowledgements. The session concluded with expressions of gratitude to the guest speakers, CIA Teams, council members, and implementation teams. Their contributions were recognized as pivotal to the meeting’s success and the council’s ongoing endeavors.

A recording of the NJ STIC December 2023 meeting is available here. The day’s presentations can be found here and, in the sections, below, including the results of the interactive exercise.

Recording of the NJ STIC 4th Quarter 2023 Meeting
Welcome Remarks & FHWA Updates
CIA Team Update: Safety
CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation
CIA Team Update: Organizational Support & Improvement
CIA Team Update: Planning & Environment
CIA Team Update: Mobility & Safety
Featured Presentation: Weather Savvy Pilot
Featured Presentation: Pilot Tests of Truck Parking Information Systems
Featured Presentation: No Trucks in Left Lane Notifications
Featured Presentation: TIM Outreach Tracker
Interactive Exercise
Reminders and Announcements

Strategic Workforce Development: Preparing Justice-Impacted Individuals for Transportation, Engineering and Construction Careers

Strategic Workforce Development, an innovative initiative of the Every Day Counts Program, suggests the importance of fostering an environment and partnerships favorable to training programs, pre-apprenticeship programs, and support for women and minorities in the construction workforce, among other strategies. The Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP), housed in Rutgers’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), has provided several strategic workforce development programming to vulnerable populations in and around Camden, NJ. While the program supports a variety of individuals, a majority of those served are justice-impacted and from historically underserved or vulnerable populations. With the continued success of these services, RYSP has grown and developed, most recently starting a new program focused on enhancing employment access in the transportation, infrastructure, and construction fields, called PACE (Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education), sponsored by the Apprenticeship Office of NJDOL. The program has also taken a new name to reflect its expansion into serving adults and focusing more closely on employment: Rutgers Employment Success Program (RESP).

We interviewed Todd Pisani, the Training Director of Rutgers Employment Success Programs. Todd has been working for the past ten years on strategic workforce development programs for justice-impacted individuals in Camden, NJ. His work started with the creation of the Rutgers Youth Success Program and has developed into several Camden, New Brunswick, and South Jersey based programs focused on bridging employment gaps for justice-challenged individuals.

Q. Can you tell us about the Rutgers Employment Success Program?

A. The Rutgers Employment Success Program (previously the Rutgers Youth Success Program) supports up to 120 justice-impacted youth in and around Camden, NJ, with job readiness, career exposure, work experience, education, and legal services. The program addresses some of the challenges many young people face following involvement in the juvenile justice system, especially with employment and accessing education. The program is funded by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (NJDOL) and is a collaboration between Rutgers University and the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT).

Participants of the Rutgers Youth Success Program learn from field professionals about automotive repairs

By the end of 2024, we will be serving 400 individuals and hope to increase this number going forward. While the program began with serving young individuals, we have found that expanding into an older age cohort, 18+ years, has been successful. We work directly with vulnerable populations — for example, black and brown people, individuals from historically underserved communities, returning citizens, or otherwise justice impacted people — to address employment barriers. Our approach includes consideration and support for people with mental, behavioral, or psychiatric health challenges. In addition to our on-the-ground work, we advocate for the change of harmful systems that pose barriers to employment by initiating a change in language and policy that have historically slowed progress and support for the populations we serve.

Q. How did you get involved in the Rutgers Youth Success Program and what has kept you involved for the past 10 years? 

A. After several years as an employee affiliated with the Cooperative Extension program at Rutgers, Camden, we were successful in putting together a team that included Dr. Clifton Lacy, former Commissioner of Health and head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that attracted federal funding. That 1.2 million dollar longitudinal research project studied recidivism and violence among justice impacted youth over 3 years, and led me to collaborate with Rutgers CAIT. When a staffing change presented an opportunity, we were able to move the continuation of funding from Cooperative Extension to CAIT. The program remained consistent with its goals and mission and our support for individuals remains the same, but we have been able to expand the program and strengthen our ties to the engineering, transportation, and infrastructure realm.

Q. One of the goals of the Rutgers Employment Success Program is to address some of the barriers under-represented, or justice-challenged individuals face when pursuing a career. What do some of these barriers look like and how is this program targeting these? 

A. The barriers are baked into the system as a whole — and there are many organizations and even political movements that are working to change that trajectory. The most prevalent barriers include:

  • The outrageous and arbitrary time individuals must wait after incarceration to even be considered for some positions. We combat that by pushing for improved hiring policies, advocacy efforts in a variety of environments including discussions with trade unions, partnerships with community colleges and their affiliates, and developing relationships with specific employers and helping them see the value in hiring returning citizens.
  • Trauma and PTSD are common effects of incarceration and experience in the justice system. These conditions may make finding or receiving employment challenging and advocating for oneself even more so. We lead our program from a strengths-based trauma-informed approach, ensuring that everyone is treated with respect, honor, and dignity.
  • Justice-impacted individuals are often restricted from decision-making rooms. We utilize our privilege by inviting in justice-impacted leaders to rooms they often are kept from. We have several justice-impacted individuals on our team, so we lead by example. The resulting interactions with Judges, attorneys and law enforcement encourage human to human interactions and help those in power rethink their language and approaches.
  • Low exposure to higher education. We encourage individuals to dream and follow their professional interests. Our program also provides individuals with tours of colleges and supportive conversations, proving that it is a viable option for them.

Q. How has the Rutgers Employment Success Program been received by justice-challenged individuals? 

A. There are hits and misses, like any group of individuals. We hire people who are reflective culturally of the communities we serve — most of the team are black or brown people, including the team leads. We have several Spanish speakers on the team. And 2 have been justice impacted themselves, one a well-known community leader who spent over 30 years in prison for a crime committed as a teenager. He earned  his degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers while incarcerated as part of the NJ STEP (Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons) program, and has emerged as an amazing advocate for returning citizens, and has helped us link to the returning citizens  community in an authentic, immersive, and heartfelt way.

Our past participants have been extremely helpful with refining our practices by voicing their own experience and suggestions for improvements. Most recently we changed some of our intake paperwork to make it easier to access and friendlier, as requested. Participants have also identified system challenges, like the selective service status letter requirement which automatically creates a barrier for some. We really appreciate this feedback, and we also look to our sponsors for advice and suggestions.

Q. Are there any populations you are having difficulty reaching?

A. The population we serve is mostly minorities and men. We have promoted and recruited our programs across gender identities and have had female program coordinators. However, our most recent research project was a 90/10 split male to female. This is most likely a result of the gender disparity of justice-impacted youth; there are far less women and girls entangled by the justice-impacted world. We have engaged young women in our apprenticeship projects and have a black female instructor who teaches occupational safety and heavy equipment—she is very active and vocal about bringing women into the trades. Our hope is to encourage more women into the field; however, we don’t necessarily want more females to be impacted by justice. Since the NJDOL has infused the importance of targeting other populations into their grant opportunities by listing the variety of individuals traditionally harder to reach or less likely to consider the trades, we expect that employers and trade unions will follow suit and make diversity and inclusion a priority, if they haven’t already.

Q. Why are transportation and infrastructure important fields for the population you serve to connect to?

A. Many of our individuals we serve or have served identify hands-on work as appealing to them. They tend toward less office-based employment and more toward the trade industries, including transportation. Other fields of interest include construction, heavy equipment, offshore wind and other green energy solutions.

Q. Speaking of participant interest in construction and transportation careers, tell us about the new RYSP program, PACE.

A. The Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education program, or PACE, is an exciting new apprenticeship program that has recently been added to the suite of Rutgers Youth Success Program services. The program is modeled after past NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development models and will prepare participants with the necessary experience to apply for apprenticeships. Our program began in July 2023 and currently has funding for 30 participants from around the North Brunswick area. PACE goes beyond the foundational support that RYSP provides to disconnected or justice impacted youth, by increasing direct services to emerging adults 17-24 years old who are not immediately interested in or applying to college but would like to explore immediate career options.

Flyer for PACE Program Targeted to Heavy Equipment Operations

This program follows several successful programs through RESP, and in many cases incorporates the lessons learned from previous participants. Individuals not pursuing a degree following high school are often encouraged into service industry fields and healthcare, as preparation programs are more readily available. However, past participants have really expressed interest in hands-on skill training and work. Therefore, PACE is aiming to address this gap by establishing pathways for underserved populations to work in the transportation, infrastructure, or construction fields. In this case, participants will move through the Operating Engineers introductory curriculum, which includes:

  • 10 hours of on-the-job shadowing, with placement support through Hudson County Community College;
  • 30 hours of training to receive OSHA construction industry certification that will be provided by our long-standing partnership with Myers Crossing LLC.
  • Taking the Operating Engineers introductory course at Hudson County community College
  • Exposure and connections to Local 825, the International Union of Operating Engineers, which has a hands-on training facility and a training initiative with Hudson County Community College, its Earn and Learn Program.  

The goal is to expand the possible futures of each participant, allowing them to:

  • Begin an entry-level job in the transportation, infrastructure, or construction field.
  • Participate in a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Enroll in an educational program, like the Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies at Hudson County Community College

We anticipate making employment, apprenticeship, or full-time training or education quality placements   for at least 20 of our pre-apprentices in operating engineering by December 2024.

Debbie Myers of Myers Crossing, LLC instructing a PACE participant during an OSHA training session

We also have built a relationship with NJ Transit, NJDOT, and other large infrastructure related employers and are hopeful this will assist with job placements for younger people (18-19 years), which can be more challenging.

Q. In addition to the new PACE program, you are listed as the part of the lead research team for the EDC-7 Pilot Evaluation of Strategic Workforce Development for Justice-Challenged Youth research project. Could you tell us more about this work?

A. This is a very new research project, so I don’t have a lot to share yet. Our team will develop a set of best practices for strategic workforce development in the transportation and infrastructure fields using a nationwide survey of current workforce development programs that assist justice-impacted youth. The research is managed by the National Center for Infrastructure Transformation, led by Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and performed by Rutgers University and the Prairie View A&M. My hope is to strengthen our current efforts and support multiple projects through this project.

Q. What types of agencies will benefit from these best practices for Strategic workforce development? 

A. We are voting members of the Camden Youth Services Commission; each county has a version of this. The biggest benefactor for this research project will be the local youth justice system folks who are always seeking alternative methods for creating positive preventive and diversionary pathways as well as providing alternatives to detention or other punitive responses especially for young, justice-impacted individuals. Partner organizations that include the community colleges, Pathstone, Volunteer’s of America, and others will benefit from having access to a database of models for moving impacted young people into the workforce or training sectors. The transportation employer sectors, and other employers can benefit when presented with supportive data from other areas where these projects have found success. For example, if they are doing something amazing and successful in California that we can replicate and demonstrate its efficacy using data, it can potentially erode resistance and allow for larger organizations to overcome the risk factor and partner with organizations like Rutgers providing the support services to lean toward success for all. 

Q.  Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share?

Todd Pisani takes group selfie with participants and colleagues from the Youth Success Program.

A. We had an 82 percent benchmark attainment rate at the conclusion of the pilot Bridges program, which we are now in the first year of a 3-year continuation cycle. That project grew from serving 40 during the beginning of the pandemic when no in-person contact was allowed, to 100 served in the Camden area alone in 2022, and we are now on track to serving 120 in Camden and New Brunswick.

We have sought to successfully intertwine research and community-serving initiatives through multiple projects – our four NJDOL projects have been specifically project-based with no research specifically attached to them.  The EDC-7 Pilot Evaluation Study of Strategic Workforce Development for Justice-Challenged Youth, as well as others, can help to attract attention, provide reinforcement for our effort, and place the work itself into a scholarly context. We believe we can use the research to refine our projects, but also improve the design of research about the populations we serve.

Language is an important component of our work; for instance, we started using the term “justice impacted” instead of justice involved, primarily to demonstrate that nobody really wants to be “involved’ in justice world, and to plant the seed that there is an impact here that can shift the whole picture for many folks, especially black and brown individuals who have been disproportionately targeted and treated differently at all levels of the justice system, including in policing, sentencing structure and disciplinary policies in schools. Research helps solidify philosophical or observational notions, and provides an undergirding for the work itself, which for our implementation teams is the most important factor—helping to shift the trajectory for a young person, or an older individual for that matter. 


Resources

Rutgers Youth Success Program
https://cait.rutgers.edu/facilities-equipment/rutgers-youth-success-program/

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 7, Strategic Workforce Development
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_7/strategic_workforce_development.cfm

Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development
https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/workforce-development/index.html

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825
http://www.iuoe825.org/

NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development
https://njworkforce.org

Camden Youth Services Commission
Youth Services Commission | Camden County, NJ

National Center for Infrastructure Transformation Prairie View
National Center for Infrastructure Transformation (NCIT) – Led by Prairie View A&M University (pvamu.edu)

Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies at Hudson County Community College
Technical Studies AAS (hccc.edu)

Operating Engineers Local 825 Earn and Learn Program
825 Earn and Learn

For information on current workforce development programs see:

NJ Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships
https://www.nj.gov/labor/career-services/apprenticeship/

NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities
https://njpathways.org/centers-of-workforce-innovation/

For information on re-entry support programs in New Jersey visit: Governor’s Reentry Training & Employment Center NJRC (njreentry.org)

For information on re-entry support for women, visit: The_Womens_Project_2023.pdf (njreentry.org)

NJ STIC 3rd Quarter 2023 Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened its 3rd Quarter Meeting on September 27, 2023 at the NJDOT Bordentown Training Center for Excellence. This in-person event provided an opportunity for attendees to tour the newly opened state-of-the-art training center. An agenda for the meeting was distributed in advance of the event.

Welcome Remarks and Tour of Training Facility. Brandee Sullivan, NJDOT Innovation Coordinator, greeted those in attendance and opened the meeting. Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo gave welcoming remarks, noting that the STIC meeting was the first held “in-person” since the outset of the pandemic. He gave an overview of the day’s agenda and its featured speaker. He noted that Sudhir Joshi, from the Bureau of Statewide Strategies, would assume CIA Team Lead for the Planning and Environment Team.

Ms. Melissa Boyer from the Bordentown Training Center for Excellence spoke briefly about NJDOT’s acquisition of the former property of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in 2016 and the substantial rehabilitation investments made to convert three buildings and the surrounding land into the transportation-focused training complex. Those in attendance were then divided into separate teams for guided tours that were provided by Ms. Boyer and Eric Walters that included an opportunity for a “hands-on” sampling of the facility’s truck driving simulators.

After touring the Bordentown Training Center, NJ STIC participants came together for group photo before returning to the afternoon meeting session inside the facility.

FHWA Updates. After the tour, Christopher Paige, Innovation and Community Planner in the FHWA NJ Division Office, gave a brief update. He noted that the FHWA had issued its EDC-7 Baseline Report in July 2023 which conveys the innovations and goals for deployment being set by the various states. He highlighted that several FHWA Innovation Exchange Webinars have been delivered since the EDC-7 launch to introduce select topics such as Nighttime Safety and Strategic Workforce Development and available resources. As with prior rounds, EDC-7 will have a two-year cycle, but the period of performance was adjusted to run through May 2025. The first progress report cycle will be due in April 2024. He provided an overview of several resources available through the FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation (CAI) website which leads the national STIC program.

Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with short presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates on the status of the various innovative initiative topics being advanced during EDC-7. Update reports were given by the various CIA Teams on Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, Mobility and Operations, Organizational Improvement and Support, and Planning and Environment.

Featured Presentation – SJTPO Innovative Approaches to Traffic Safety Education. The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) has developed a series of traffic safety education programs to teach the public about traffic safety. The programs are designed to bring awareness to the many traffic safety risks presented to drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on area roadways and teach simple ways to improve safety. Robert Clarke, SJTPO Traffic Safety Specialist, described the various traffic safety education programs, highlighting the length of each program and typical audience. In describing the several trainings, he explained how they were designed to appeal to unique needs, interests and specific age groups such as high school, elementary, and middle school students, adults, and vulnerable older drivers. For example, a driving simulator program was targeted to teens in a probationary period, or the basic physics of driving were emphasized in a training targeted to high school math and physics students. During his talk, Mr. Clark also touched upon the various federal and state funding sources and resource commitments made to sustain SJTPO’s Safety Education and Outreach Program.

Announcements and Reminders

NJDOT Safety Resource Center. Jeevanjot Singh, Section Chief, gave an overview of the NJDOT Safety Resource Center (SRC) and its activities. Ms. Singh explained that NJDOT’s most important mission is ensuring safety – the safety of our customers and the assets that the agency builds. Ms. Singh noted that the SRC is envisioned as a one-stop destination for roadway safety-related information, noting that the SRC seeks to connect safety stakeholders with information about safety projects and programs, funding and grant opportunities, trainings from industry experts, safety campaign materials, technical assistance and other resources.

The SRC has launched a training program and, to-date, nine “Lunch & Learn” sessions have been held with more planned for the future. The SRC is also looking to develop longer in-depth trainings on select topics such as the “safe systems” approach. The SRC is expected to launch a website and a SRC LinkedIn page shortly and develop public campaigns to promote a positive safety culture for all road users.

Ms. Singh spoke about the role that the SRC plays in the implementation of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, among other topics. She encouraged those in attendance to register for the NJDOT Safety Summit event planned for October 24th at the College of New Jersey.

2023 National Build a Better Mousetrap Award “Bold Steps” Winner: NJ’s Route 71 Over Shark River Road Diet Project. This NJDOT bridge rehabilitation and road project was recognized as the year’s “Bold Steps” Award winner in the 2023 National Build a Better Mousetrap Award Competition. Each year, the FHWA honors state, local, and Tribal agencies for devising innovative solutions to improve transportation programs. Mrs. Sullivan congratulated Gerald Oliveto, P.E. and his team for receiving the national award which developed a breakthrough solution to preserve an old bridge while improving safety and saving taxpayer dollars.

In announcing this year’s award winners, FHWA produced a video explaining the Bold Steps Award and offering a description of the Route 71 Over Shark River Road Diet project which can be accessed here. The FHWA noted that the innovation not only improves transportation performance, but offers a model and transferable solution for other agencies.

Presentation: Route 71 Over Shark River: Road Diet & Safety Improvements Project. Gerald Oliveto, P.E. then gave an in-depth presentation about the award-winning project, explaining the history and location of the bridge and the challenges that NJDOT had to quickly confront after a span-lock failure in September 2021 disrupted the drawbridge’s operation, affecting roadway usage and maritime traffic patterns. Mr. Oliveto explained how the Route 71 drawbridge safety features – opening and closing sequences – were designed to operate to further help set the stage for understanding the challenges and urgency of the project.

He described several interim repair options that were examined for their cost and benefits before the preferred road diet option was selected as a near-term solution. He emphasized that design and implementation of the preferred solution was the product of effective teamwork and extensive internal coordination (e.g., regional operations, structural engineering, traffic engineering, signage, office of government and community relations, etc.).

Mr. Oliveto described how NJDOT implemented a road diet across the bridge, which allowed the Department to address safety issues. Traffic over the bridge was reduced from one northbound lane and two southbound lanes to one lane in each direction. With the lane configuration reduced to one lane in each direction, NJDOT was able to extend bicycle lanes that previously terminated in Avon-By-The-Sea across the drawbridge into Belmar.

His presentation highlighted a key design feature that was used to extend the bike lanes over the bridge. The extended bicycle lanes were accomplished using an innovative fiber-reinforced-polymer mat on the bascule span. The mat is the first of its kind in New Jersey and provided a safe crossing of a steel-grid deck for bicycles. Previously, bicyclists had needed to dismount and walk their bicycle across the bridge. The extended bicycle lanes provided connectivity between both downtown areas and an area heavily utilized by bicycle traffic year-round.

Mr. Oliveto’s talk described several design and community coordination features that were integrated into the project to build needed municipal and community support. His talk made clear the importance of communications, early and often, and working with the affected communities throughout the process to explain the logic behind the selection of the road diet option and identifying other design features (e.g., painted crosswalks, signage) that would be welcomed by the local communities. His talk touched upon various communications and coordination activities that were put into place, including the NJDOT’s Office of Communications use of social media and videos to keep the public informed about the road diet project, and the NJDOT’s Office of Mobility working with GPS companies about routing changes to avoid adverse routing of vehicles onto residential streets, among others.

Assistant Commissioner Russo presented Shivani Patel with the NJ STIC Exemplary Council Member Award, its first-ever recipient, in recognition of her valued contributions.

NJ STIC Exemplary Council Member Award. Assistant Commissioner Russo presented Shivani Patel, CIA Team Lead for Infrastructure Preservation, with the NJ STIC Exemplary Council Member Award as its first-ever recipient. The award recognizes her strong leadership as CIA Team Lead since assuming responsibility and her instrumental role in championing the Environmental Products Declaration initiative by developing an SME team and hosting coordination meetings

Reminders and Updates. Mrs. Sullivan closed the meeting with several reminders and updates.

NJ STIC Online. She reminded attendees of the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

NJ Transportation Ideas Portal. Mrs. Sullivan noted that the NJDOT Bureau of Research has combined the innovative ideas portal with the research portal to gather high quality ideas from the transportation community. She pointed to the business cards and a poster with a QR code that were available in the front of the room as a handy means to access the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal. She encouraged attendees to take a few business cards to share with colleagues. For more information and to how register for an account and submit ideas on the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal, go to: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/got-ideas

Local Technical Assistance and STIC. Mrs. Sullivan added that there are free trainings on EDC-7 topics delivered through the Local Technical Assistance Program at Rutgers-CAIT. She shared links to an upcoming schedule of trainings. She also noted that new opportunities are added frequently at the website: https://cait.rutgers.edu/events.

Upcoming Events. Mrs. Sullivan noted in brief some important upcoming events on research and innovation:

  • Safety Summit – October 24th
  • 25th Anniversary of the Research Showcase – Oct 25th
  • Complete Streets Summit – Nov 1st

STIC Incentive Program Funding. Mrs. Sullivan noted that STIC Incentive Program funds are available. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year. Mrs. Sullivan asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. She noted that local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.

Closing the Business Portion and Final Remarks. Ms. Sullivan concluded the business portion of the STIC meeting, noting that this would be the final STIC Meeting for Assistant Commissioner Russo with his imminent retirement. In recognition of this milestone and his long-standing leadership role with the NJ STIC, Mrs. Sullivan invited Vanessa Holman, Deputy Chief of Staff in the NJDOT Commissioner’s Office, to say a few words about Assistant Commissioner’s instrumental role in advancing the NJ STIC’s mission over the years and strengthening the team going forward.

About the Bordentown Training Facility. The training facility includes specialized classrooms and adjoining labs outfitted with real roadway structures, traffic control components, and vehicle maintenance equipment, including:

  • Lecture hall, multi-use classrooms, computer training labs, offices, conference and breakout rooms, and locker room facilities.
  • Two full-motion Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) Truck Simulators.
  • Construction, Landscape and Roadway Training Lab with in-ground model of drainage inlets connected by a culvert.
  • Electrical and Sign Training Lab with real traffic signal control cabinets and in-ground pull boxes.
  • Automotive Training Lab with working model of truck brake system.
  • Equipment Training Bay with welding area and space to work on large vehicles Radio Shop.
  • A mock roadway features a signalized intersection, crosswalks, overhead signs, and a railroad grade crossing that presents trainees with the traffic infrastructure and conditions encountered on the job.

A recording of the NJ STIC September 2023 meeting is under production and will be shared when it is available. The day’s presentations can be found here and in the sections below.

Photos from the Bordentown Training Facility tour are presented at the bottom.

NJ STIC Meeting – 3rd Quarter 2023, Recording
Welcome Remarks & FHWA Updates
CIA Team Update: Safety
CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation
CIA Team Update: Organizational Support & Improvement
CIA Team Update: Mobility & Safety
CIA Team Update: Planning & Environment
Feature Presentation: SJTPO Innovative Approaches to Traffic Safety Education
Announcement: Safety Resource Center
Announcement: Build a Better Mousetrap Award 2023 Bold Steps Award
Presentation: Route 71 over Shark River – Road Diet & Safety Improvements
NJ STIC – 10+Years of Innovating and 2023 Exemplary NJSTIC Member
Reminders and Announcements
      • Bordentown Training Facility Tour Photos
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      NJDOT Traffic Incident Management Training Course – Now Available Online as Self-Guided Course

      The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Traffic Incident Management (NJTIM) training is now available as an online, self-guided course. Bringing first responder training program to an online training platform should make it easier for even more emergency and incident response personnel to access a life-saving training. The new online course can be accessed through the NJTIM website.

      The TIM training program focuses on a response effort that protects motorists and first responders during a roadside emergency, while minimizing impact on traffic flow. Since its inception in 2009, NJDOT and its partner agencies have trained more than 24,000 emergency and incident response personnel, including police, firefighters, EMS personnel, DOT crews, towing/recovery companies and other responders.

      Training efforts, like these, are crucial in coordinating response efforts that keep all first responders and transportation professionals safe.

      The new online training course can be found at NJ TIM Website: njtim.org

      Providing easier access to TIM training for busy first responders and transportation professionals should prove more cost effective than traditional, in-person meetings for organizations with limited budgets. The online training program is asynchronous, offering greater flexibility in taking the training for personnel whose work schedules may not align with in-person training dates.

      Online programs can also be easily updated and revised, ensuring that participants receive the most current and relevant information.

      The online training is designed to engage training participants with videos, simulations, knowledge checks, and interactive scenarios that mimic real-world situations. The online TIM training utilizes assessments and certifications to evaluate the trainees’ understanding of the material and practice decision-making in high-stress scenarios without real world consequences.

      The online TIM training program seeks to improve safely and coordination in responding to incidents on New Jersey’s roadways. The target audience for this training is county and municipal law enforcement and emergency personnel, including volunteer firefighters and EMTs.


      FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program has recognized the importance of TIM as model safety and mobility innovation. In Round 6, Next-Generation TIM: Integrating Technology, Data, and Training, the importance of training of local agencies was encouraged.

      The FHWA’s Talking TIM webinar series provides best practices, new technological innovations, and successful implementations. The webinar series provides a forum where TIM champions with any level of experience can exchange information about current practices, programs, and technologies.

      More information on the rationale and benefits of the new course can be found in the video and the NJDOT press release.

      Strategic Workforce Development: A Follow-Up Conversation with Hudson County Community College and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825

      The Earn & Learn program was funded by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant through the NJ Department of Labor.
      The IUOE has named the hybrid apprentice program “Earn and Learn.” The first student cohort began class in January 2022.

      Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 and 7 innovation, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies, and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction, and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. The recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector is integral to the initiative. Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping the future workforce, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

      We spoke with Lori Margolin, the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and Greg LaLevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 for an update on their apprenticeship program entitled Earn & Learn.

      Earn & Learn Program Background

      The IUOE Earn & Learn program is an advanced manufacturing initiative supported by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant. HCCC and IUOE Local 825 established the program in November 2021 through an articulation agreement. The program gives students the opportunity to be dually enrolled in the union apprenticeship program and HCCC, where they will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits.

      During an 18-month period, participants earn 30 credits from on-the-job training and education provided by the union and are scheduled to earn the other 30 credits from HCCC over five semesters. They attend HCCC part-time, taking two classes per semester and earning six credits per semester on average.  All classes are offered in a virtual modality.

      Q. The Earn & Learn program has been operating for a little over one year. How is program implementation going so far?

      IUOE 825 will continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with HCCC and other higher education institutions.
      HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet a diversity of needs.

      A. Implementing the program with this first cohort of students has been a learning experience for both the HCCC and IUOE Local 825, as this initiative is the first of its kind. Program implementation is going well overall, with challenges noted below. Twenty-four of the 30 students initially accepted into the program remain enrolled. Factors influencing departures included health issues and struggles for some with the academic or other program requirements. The program is on-track to initiate a second round of applications later this year for the spring 2024 semester.

      Q. Are you making modifications to either the academic component or the hands-on training based on your experience in the first year of implementation?

      A.  As initially planned, students would earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits. However, we have reconfigured the degree to more closely align with the construction industry; students will earn a degree in Technical Studies with a construction concentration.

      The course work has been altered to be more directly relevant to the construction industry and to what students are learning at IUOE Local 825. For example, we have replaced some of the math and science courses more directly aligned with the HCCC construction management course work.

      While all participants take the same coursework, some modifications are available to accommodate students on different pathways. For example, a student seeking to continue their studies at a four-year university should likely take a Calculus course, whereas those not wishing to continue their education beyond an Associate Degree may opt for other available math courses.

      Q. What have been the key challenges you have encountered so far in the program implementation? How have you addressed those challenges?

      The IUOE Training Center offers simulations to prepare for operating in-field equipment.

      A. One of the main challenges can be scheduling as students must meet the demands of their on-the-job training, as well as their classroom instruction requirements. Construction jobs may be located far from one’s residence and/or require off-peak work hours, which compounds this scheduling challenge.

      Many of the participants have not had recent experience with balancing academic demands with on-the-job training. Many of the students are 25 years of age or older and have not been enrolled in school for several years. For such students, re-entering the classroom can be a “culture shock,” and requires them to learn how to prioritize academic studies.

      This is often an issue in adult learning so both a HCCC Student Success Coach and the IUOE Local 825 chief academic officer are vital partners in the program. Many HCCC initiatives include a Student Success Coach as a best practice to provide adult students with additional supports with navigating the college in terms of scheduling, instruction, and identifying resources to address other demands so they can attain success. The Student Success Coach often functions as a student advocate and navigator. The value of the Student Success Coach to the Earn & Learn program must be emphasized.

      Q. What have been some key takeaways and lessons learned so far with the program?

      HCCC and the IUOE are training workers for the construction industry, including highway construction.

      A. Creating connections among the student cohort has been an important and contributing factor to students’ ongoing success. Students have been able to develop relationships virtually through class, as well as through the Earn & Learn in-person orientation. We also convened an in-person meeting with students after the first semester to discuss issues and challenges with the Earn & Learn program. The students receive both academic and emotional support and camaraderie from one another and benefit from cohort learning.

      Also vital to identifying and addressing program challenges has been the open and clear communication channels established and nurtured between the HCCC Student Success Coach and the IUOE Local 825 chief academic officer.

      We have learned that overall program flexibility is key as well. For example, to give students the greatest scheduling flexibility and to accommodate diverse comfort levels, they are given some choice with how their HCCC academic instruction is delivered. Specifically, for some classes student can take asynchronous online classes, or opt for synchronous instruction with a live instructor.

      Q. What benefits have been achieved so far from the Earn & Learn program?

      A. Many students are surpassing their own expectations for their performance in the program, which is wonderful to experience. As one student shared, “I didn’t think I could do school again.” Most are maintaining high GPAs. I feel that the personal growth experienced by these students will also translate into them becoming better members in the IUOE union and better employees.

      Q. Are you aware of any other similar programs generating interest in the construction trade?

      Students get “hands-on” time for operating heavy equipment at the IUOE Training Facility.

      A. The Earn & Learn program is a bit unique. However, I believe the Carpenter’s Union is working on something with the state Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and they are referring to their training centers as technical colleges. Some of the other construction trades also have arrangements with higher education institutions, such as with Thomas Edison State University.

      Other Construction-Focused Career Initiatives

      Q. During our interview last year, the goal of bridging the gap between student age when graduating Vo-Tech (17 years) and entry into an apprenticeship (age 18 required) was discussed. You were trying to arrange for a direct entry from Middlesex County Vo-Tech to a union apprenticeship with IUOE Local 825. Have you gotten any traction on that effort? Are there other construction-focused career initiatives you want to bring to our attention?

      A. Opportunities are never lost! We continue to work on advancing this goal with Middlesex County Vo-Tech of bridging student age when graduating Vo-Tech and apprenticeship entry with us. The Vo-Tech’s East Brunswick campus is located 2.5 miles from the IUOE Local 825 training center, so there is a genuine opportunity here for those students.

      Ocean County has a heavy equipment program in their Vo-Tech and we [IUOE Local 825] had an initial meeting to learn more about that effort. We also had some of their students come to our training center for a site visit.

      There are other exciting education-focused initiatives happening as well. For example, Local 825’s sister organization located in the Midwest has developed a mathematics curriculum for high school students that local districts can use. The curriculum speaks to how the student would resolve math questions as an operating engineer. IUOE Local 825’s academic officer is working to bring that curriculum to New Jersey, perhaps in collaboration with the non-profit Junior Achievement organization, which is focused on developing youth skills to promote economic success.

      An innovative Rutgers initiative led by the Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP) in partnership with Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) recently received new funding through a PACE grant. The RYSP program will seek to place under-represented and justice-challenged young people in transportation and infrastructure careers. The grant will support development of a pre-apprenticeship program for Operating Engineers. HCCC will be the training partner for this 18-month program.

      Middlesex County is home not only to Rutgers and IUOE Local 825, but also to many of the construction equipment dealers such as John Deere, Caterpillar, and Komatsu. However, there remains limited interaction between all these potential partners to discuss opportunities to diversify and strengthen the construction workforce.

      Q. HCCC is a co-leader with Rowan College in the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation. Can you give us a brief update on that work? Do you collaborate directly with Rowan on these initiatives and, if yes, in what way?

      A. This Construction Center of Workforce is part of the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities (NJ Pathways), a collaborative program between the NJ Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. Year one work has been completed. There are ten centers for workforce innovation, including one focused on construction. HCCC is the administrative lead along with Rowan College of South Jersey for the construction innovation.

      The Construction Center of Workforce is one of ten workforce centers partnering with the state’s community colleges.

      HCCC’s efforts related to the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation, as well as through several other initiatives including the Earn & Learn Program, helped focus our successful work to expand the offerings in our construction management program. We have had an Associate Degree in construction management for a while, and now we also offer a one-year academic certificate requiring 34 credits and 2 proficiency certificates in either construction administration or construction technology requiring 13 or 14 credits. We also offer seven-to-nine individual courses that offer certification in specific areas of construction management. Students can opt to take one or two courses or all the offerings. If students opt to take these offerings as a noncredit course, they can transfer or articulate for credit in the HCCC Construction Management academic certificate or degree program.

      HCCC also offers the opportunity to earn a National Institute of Certified Engineers and Technicians (NICET) certificate for the field of Asphalt Testing and other similar offerings, all of which have been very popular. In all, by offering these different degree and non-degree options, students are afforded flexibility to acquire skills that best meets their career advancement goals. This work also helps us advance equity goals as well, as students can learn at their own pace and effectively build their own career pathway beginning where they wish to start.

      Q. Do you see any ways that NJDOT’s Civil Rights, Human Resources, or other units could engage with you to advance programs in NJ?

      A. The State and NJDOT are seeking greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the construction field and on job sites. To achieve this goal, we need to operationalize strategies that will encourage greater diversity among persons who are considering construction as a viable career path and who may apply for construction jobs. Incremental progress in this regard is possible if we work together. We must look beyond meeting a requirement for a specific number of diverse workers on a job site – instead we should focus attention on developing a plan to generate overall interest in the field and set mid-point goals toward achieving that plan.

      On another note, generating interest for a career in heavy equipment operations among youth, especially among youth living in urban areas, is challenging as these individuals often have little exposure to our trade compared to those who reside in more rural areas and who may have experience or familiarity with farm and other heavy equipment. Working with the Junior Achievement organization may provide another pathway for us to identify a new generation of prospective heavy equipment operators and other construction workers.

      We would welcome opportunities to sit at the table with NJDOT to advance careers in construction and are open to developing and refining training and education programs to meet the diverse needs of the workforce.


      Resources

      Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 7, Strategic Workforce Development
      https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/swd/

      Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development
      https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/workforce-development/index.html

      Hudson County Community College Center for Construction Management
      https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/academic-pathways/stem/center-for-construction-management.html

      International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825
      http://www.iuoe825.org/

      NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development
      https://njworkforce.org

      NJ Department of Labor, NJ PLACE 2.0 Grants
      https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200131_njplace.shtml

      NJ Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships
      https://www.nj.gov/labor/career-services/apprenticeship/

      NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities
      https://njpathways.org/centers-of-workforce-innovation/

      Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP)
      https://cait.rutgers.edu/facilities-equipment/rutgers-youth-success-program/

      From left to right: a woman in a hardhat working with a crowbar, then two men helping place a bridge component, finally three men on a paving device

      Strategic Workforce Development Online Recordings & Presentations

      Strategic Workforce Development is one of FHWA's seven initiatives promoted through the sixth round of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program. Key emphasis is on developing new, innovative strategies to support qualified workers for highway construction projects. By strengthening this workforce by applying lessons learned with new training tools and customizable marketing materials, state transportation agencies can help to foster the next generation of transportation workers.

      FHWA's Center for Workforce Development has hosted several webinars about the Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP), highlighting success stories and best practices.

      Recordings

      Recent webinars were held in November 2022, including representatives from Michigan, Connecticut, New England Laborers Training Academy, Texas, National Skills Coalition, Oregon, and the Pennsylvania representatives from the Pittsburgh region, including the Partner4Work and Builders Guild organizations.  A host of supportive services were highlighted that both educate and maintain their trainee's opportunities and availability to participate in the respective workforce development programs.

      Other recordings and select presentations are available here and future webinar announcements will be located on the HCWP website.  Some examples of recent webinars and presentations are listed below.

      Presentations

      FHWA contacts for Strategic Workforce Development are Karen Bobo (Karen.Bobo@dot.gov) and Joe Conway (Joe.Conway@dot.gov).

      Image of backed up traffic and first responder in neon vest standing on highway

      Talking TIM Webinar Series (TIM) Webinar Series

      The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Talking TIM webinar series provides best practices, new technological innovations, and successful implementations. The webinar series provides a forum where TIM champions with any level of experience can exchange information about current practices, programs, and technologies.  Each month, the FHWA TIM Program Team seeks to feature content that highlights successful programs, identifies best practices, and showcases technology that advances the profession.

      The FHWA-sponsored webinars are hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE). Talking TIM typically takes place the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM.  Click here to view upcoming webinars.

      Below is a list of past webinars:

      • January 2021: The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Role in TIM, Digital Alert Pilots in St Louis and Kansas City, and FHWA Every Day Counts Round Six (EDC-6) NextGen TIM Overview
      • February 2021: Innovative Tools for Responder and Road Worker Safety
      • March 2021: AASHTO's Role in TIM, Nebraska Tow Temporary Traffic Control Program, Fire Truck Attenuators for Temporary Traffic Control, Massachusetts Legislation for Driver and Responder Safety
      • April 2021: Wisconsin's Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) Program, City of Seattle TIM and Response Team Program, and North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) TIM Innovations
      • May 2021: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Role in TIM, Incident Detours Involving Railroad Crossings, Washington State's TIM Program and Virtual Coordination, and Responder Vehicle to Traffic Management Center Video Sharing
      • June 2021: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Traffic Incident Management
      • July 2021: Lubbock Fire and Rescue Helmet Innovation,  RESQUE-1 Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Assistance, Geographically-Tagged Information from Travelers
      • August 2021: CDOT TIM for Localities, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement TIM Training Requirement, Schertz Fire and Rescue TIM Training Institutionalization, Institutionalizing TIM training for EMS Professionals in Georgia
      • September 2021: Rural Roadway Strategies for Incident Management
      • October 2021: Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator Testing and Implementation in Colorado, Autonomous and Driverless Pilots for Large Trucks in Arizona, Rural-Focused Towing Programs in Florida
      • November 2021: National Kickoff: Crash Responder Safety Week 2021
      • December 2021: In-Cab Incident Alerts for Commercial Vehicles
      • January 2022: Illinois TIM Program Overview and Training Video Use, Law Enforcement and First Responder Interactions Plans for Automated Driving Systems (ADS), Total Solar Eclipse Planning for 2023 and 2024
      • February 2022: Public Safety Announcements across Nine States for Motorist and Traffic Incident Responder Safety, TIM Video Sharing Use Cases: Findings from the Recent EDC-6 Next Generation TIM Workshop, TRACS and MACH: Software to Simplify Electronic Crash Reporting and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
      • March 2022: Outreach for Responder Safety through Collaborations with the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Towing and Recovery Association of America, North Carolina Tethered Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program, and Advanced Responder Warning through Safety Vests Fueled by Video Analytics
      • April 2022: Smart Lighting Strategies for Responder Vehicles, Incident Response After Action Reviews Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery, Incident Response After Action Reviews Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery
      • May 2022: Data Use and Visualization, Promoting Roadway Safety Through Move Over Law and Responder Struck-By Awareness, The New Jersey TIM Program
      • June 2022: Ohio DOT Quick Clear Demonstration, Electric Vehicle Battery Fires and the TIM Timeline, Montana's TIM Program
      • July 2022: The National Unified Goal: What Is It and How Do We Make It Relevant?, Planning and Responding to Special Events in Minnesota, Iowa DOT TIM Program Overview and Strategies for Quicker Incident Detection
      • August 2022: Overview of the Florida Heartland TIM Committee and Florida's Expanded Deployment of Cameras on Road Ranger Vehicles, What's New for the 2022 TIM Capability Maturity Self-Assessment, The TIM National Unified Goal: Relevancy of the TIM NUG Strategies
      • September 2022:  Move Over and Responder Safety Technologies, Houston Traffic Incident Management and Training
        National Unified Goals Review and Feedback.
      • January 2023:  Mitigating Work Zone Traffic Incidents Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Every Day Counts Round 7 (EDC-7) Innovation, Next Generation TIM: Technology for Lifesaving Response, Traffic Incident Management National Unified Goal (NUG) Review and Feedback, Part 3
      • February 2023: Findings from Move Over Compliance and Responder Safety Technology Research, After Action Review of a Multi-Vehicle Fire, EDC-7 Summit Debrief: TIM Technologies for Saving Lives.
      • March 2023: Light-emitting diode (LED) Temporary Traffic Control Devices for Digital Motorist Alerts, Moveable Barriers and Debris Removal Systems, National Secondary Crash Research.
      • April 2023:  Responder to Vehicle (R2V) Alerts in the District of Columbia, The Role of Medical Examiners in TIM, New Audience Listening Session

      Go to Talking TIM webinar series for more recent events.

      More  information on the FHWA EDC-7 initiative, Next Generation TIM: Technology for Lifesaving Response is here.

      Jim AustrichPaul Jodoin, and Joe TeboFHWA Office of Operations TIM Program, organize and moderate this webinar series hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE).