Exploring Strategic Workforce Development in NJ: An Interview with Hudson County Community College

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, 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. An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, 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) for her insights on workforce development and a new partnership between HCCC and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 that addresses the need to train individuals for today’s jobs in highway construction and operations.

 

Community Colleges, Programs and Partners

Q.  Can you tell us about your role with the college?

HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet their needs

HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet their needs

I am the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC). My department oversees all non-credit programs at the College. We provide educational programs in a wide variety of areas for community residents, training for unemployed and underemployed job seekers, and work directly with employers to provide basic skills and customized training to incumbent workers. We have partnerships with many diverse organizations and take an “entrepreneurial approach” to developing programs and partnerships which provide an alternate  pathway for students to obtain credentials and enter a degree program.

Q.  Before we delve into your new International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 program, please tell us, based on your experiences, if there is a lack of awareness among your student body – especially among women and minority students – for jobs/careers in the highway construction industry?

In general, students often lack awareness of careers in many sectors. I have no specific data to cite in highway construction however I am sure it holds true in this industry. Young people and prospective job seekers are not aware of the full-range of available opportunities and/or have false perceptions about jobs in these sectors. For example, they may erroneously assume no post-secondary degree or certification is needed or that they will work in a “dusty workshop” – neither of which may be true.

The construction industry is known, historically, as a white male-dominated industry that many do not associate as a sector offering opportunities for persons seeking a post-secondary degree; however, increasingly construction and heavy manufacturing are more automated and need workers with advanced technology skills. The IUOE Local 825 is a union that recognizes this need for workers who are vested with skills to work with new technologies.

For women, minorities, and people with disabilities to be attracted to and successfully retain positions in these fields, both role models and a welcoming work environment are vital. The industry has to examine its policies and practices from top to bottom to address issues of diversity.

Q.  Do you know of programs either at HCCC or elsewhere that are building awareness of career opportunities in the highway construction sector?

HCCC offers an Associate degree in Applied Science in Construction Management, which is part of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) division. The program has experienced double-digit enrollment growth due to factors including the recent November 2021 passage of the federal Infrastructure bill. Rowan University offers a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and there may be others.

NJ Pathways provides individuals with career opportunities and industry with a trained workforce

HCCC and Rowan College of South Jersey will be leading the Construction Center for Workforce Innovation as part of the NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities program, which is a joint initiative of the NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and the NJ Business and Industry Association. We are looking at expanding the pathways in construction, creating new partnerships with K-12 and 4-year colleges and universities, and expanding the dual education program to include additional partners. Whatever new curricula are developed via the initiative will be shared statewide.

Q.  Several commonly cited roadblocks to entry into the construction sector particularly for women and minority candidates include transportation issues and childcare. Have your students encountered these or other obstacles? Do you see a role for NJ community colleges in helping to reduce barriers for women and minorities in entering the highway construction trades?

Both transportation and childcare are obstacles to entry and retention in construction and other sectors. For example, if a person’s vehicle is not reliable, how are they going to access the job site? For some job seekers, the costs of child care can be a large proportion of their income.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges, as some job seekers are concerned with taking a job where they may be exposed to the virus and bring it home to older or immune-compromised family members. In some cases, prospective workers must care for family members impacted by COVID-19 and balance demands related to their children’s home school instruction. The number of female employees in many sectors has decreased since the onset of the pandemic because many of these familial responsibilities fall to women. Overall, these constraints are influencing the types of jobs candidates are pursuing.

I see a role for community colleges in helping to reduce barriers for women and minorities in entering highway construction and other sectors. Community colleges serve students from highly diverse backgrounds who bring a variety of experiences to their classes. Community colleges serve more first-generation, part-time, nontraditional age, low-income, minority, and female students than any other type of public higher education institution.  We focus on economic mobility and preparing students to launch successful careers and earn family-sustaining wages.

The pandemic has exacerbated issues that students and job seekers face, such as childcare and transportation. Many HCCC students have non-academic needs including food insecurity and face emergencies, such as car repair, that are beyond their financial means to resolve independently. To help address these issues, HCCC has expanded student supports, as the college considers itself part of the community it serves. The Hudson Helps program provides a food pantry, emergency grants, and has paid almost $5 million in outstanding debts for students during the pandemic.

While these issues are long-standing, if the community works together I believe we can effectively address them.

Q.   Your department partners closely with the business community, offering a variety of programs and resources to help meet their workforce needs. Do you also partner with any community-based organizations to support any of your apprenticeship or other programs? If yes, do any of these organizations specifically focus on supporting women and minorities in the workforc

There are many community-based organizations and programs that support students in preparing for careers. Several of our partners in Hudson County are Women Rising, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and Year Up. Year Up primarily works with minority and low-income students to introduce them to careers in business, finance, and technology, and they have an office on our campus. We partner with many others as well.

International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Program

Q.  With HCCC as a registered apprenticeship sponsor with USDOL, do you have apprenticeship programs in place focused on advanced manufacturing, healthcare and -- now with the IUOE Program -- operating engineering?

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

HCCC is a Registered Apprenticeship sponsor and currently has an advanced manufacturing employer, Eastern Millwork, and one hospitality employer, Skopos Hospitality. In addition we have agreements with many healthcare providers to train apprentices. We are a partner on an application for a culinary Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) training grants through the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL).

Many employers are hesitant to pursue apprenticeships because they do not understand what an apprenticeship entails, and the benefits that an apprenticeship could offer to both employers and participants. In fact, many confuse internships with apprenticeships, with one distinction among the two being that apprenticeship participants are hired as employees, although there are other differences as well.

We have an agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 to articulate up to 30 credits towards an Associate degree (60 credits).  Apprentices with IUOE Local 825 can pursue an Associate degree while completing the apprenticeship program.

Q.   Can you please outline the basics of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) program?

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

The IUOE program is technically an advanced manufacturing initiative that is supported by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant. This innovative program was established in November 2021 through an articulation agreement between HCCC and IUOE Local 825 and 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.

Participants will 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 will be attending part-time, taking two classes per semester and earning six credits per semester on average.

Q, What are the main goals for the IUOE program?

The main goals for the NJ PLACE 2.0 grant are promoting equality of opportunity, upward economic mobility, and economic fairness.

Q.  What makes the IUOE program particularly innovative?

The program is innovative and beneficial because it provides students with the unique, time-saving opportunity to pursue their journeyworker status simultaneously with earning their Associate degree. The program is designed so that students earn credit for experience outside the classroom, and college classes enhance what they are learning at work. There are no out of pocket expenses for the students since costs are covered by the grant and IUOE Local 825.

The IUOE has named the hybrid apprentice program “Earn and Learn”

The degree will  give students additional options and pathways.  Future operators will need to master heavy equipment and also understand and work with the technology behind it.

Q.  How is program implementation going so far? Approximately how many students are currently enrolled?

The program will start in the spring 2022 semester on January 21, 2022. Thirty students of diverse backgrounds from throughout the state were accepted for enrollment. The students had to commit to both components of the program, earning the Associate degree and to the apprenticeship program. Hundreds of prospective applicants applied in the first 20 minutes that the online application portal opened.

All HCCC instruction is virtual, although the orientation was held in-person on-campus. The virtual modality allows students who reside throughout the state to easily attend. The IUOE Local 825 members are trained in real-world facilities on the latest models of equipment, including those with the newest technology and GPS systems. The state-of-the-art training facility located in central New Jersey near Exit 8A of the NJ Turnpike, has a total area of nearly 60 acres, with more than 90 pieces of equipment, simulators and instrumentation.

IUOE members are trained in central NJ to work with heavy machinery on construction sites

IUOE members are trained in central NJ to work with heavy machinery on construction sites

Q.  What career paths and industries will program graduates typically pursue? Are construction jobs a focus of the program? Has there been any discussion about preparing workers in the highway construction trades?

Local 825 Operating Engineers are highly trained and experienced heavy equipment operators, mechanics, and surveyors who offer unsurpassed productivity to contractors throughout New Jersey and five counties in New York’s Hudson Valley

Q.  We read that the IUOE program is one of two in the state. Are you aware of the other program?

HCCC is the only community college in New Jersey offering this program. Thomas Edison State University is another institution with a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant.

Q.  Do you see this as an ongoing program or dependent on grant funding that might not be forthcoming in future years?

Currently, the grant covers half the tuition and fees for students and the union covers the remaining portion. Both HCCC and the IUOE Local 825 are committed to the program. Our interests and missions align and I see the program continuing. The program itself enables students to train with and learn current technology, and improves readiness for current and future career pathways.

Looking Ahead

Q. What strategies should be pursued to encourage more NJ community college students to consider a career in the construction industry? Who should be leading or involved in those efforts?

Increasing awareness of the career pathways available in the construction industry would be helpful in encouraging more NJ community college students to consider this option. New Jersey's Community Colleges and New Jersey Business and Industry Association are leading a collaborative effort to address the rapidly changing needs of employers and providing students and workers with the career pathways they need to be successful.  As a key component of this coordinated workforce preparation effort, the NJ Council of County Colleges has launched 10 Centers of Workforce Innovation specifically focused on building pathways to serve the learning lifespan of students and workers. The Centers are clustered in four industries, Healthcare, Technology and Innovation, Infrastructure and Energy, and Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.  HCCC is the administrative lead on the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation (part of the Infrastructure industry) and is partnered with Rowan College of South Jersey. There was a statewide convening on January 19th to kick off the planning phase of the work.

Q.  Through their on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, by focusing on training and recruitment programs aimed at women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations. Do you have any thoughts about how NJDOT might pursue this goal?

New Jersey’s 18 community colleges serve over 300,000 people in non-credit, credit, and workforce development courses

NJDOT Human Resources staff and/or senior leadership should partner with NJ’s community colleges so we can familiarize NJDOT with opportunities to align in-demand skills for degree programs and develop customized non-credit programs and training for their workforce. Community colleges can uptrain or re-train the NJDOT workforce to succeed in new or revamped roles. HCCC and other community colleges can also work with NJDOT to help the department achieve increased workforce representation among females and minorities. NJDOT can engage in conversations with educators and let us know what skills the NJDOT workforce needs so that we can help address skill gaps. There are 18 community colleges in the state; NJDOT could opt to reach out to the NJ Council of County Colleges to start the conversation.

NJDOT workers and others may want to consider taking advantage of the Community College Opportunity Grant initiative. New Jersey students enrolled in any one of the State’s 18 county colleges may be eligible for tuition-free college. Students who are enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester and who have an adjusted gross income of $0-$65,000 will be considered for this state grant.

 

Resources

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 6, Strategic Workforce Development. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/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

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/

 

Innovation Spotlight: Testing and Deploying ITS Solutions for Safer Mobility and Operations

NJDOT’s Transportation Mobility unit is working on several initiatives related to FHWA Every Day Counts innovative initiatives, including: Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations (EDC-4, EDC-6), Next Generation Traffic Incident Management (EDC-4, EDC-6), and Weather Responsive Management Strategies (EDC-4, EDC-5).  The unit has been creatively deploying STIC Incentive Grants and Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) grants to pilot test and evaluate innovations in recent years. We spoke with Sue Catlett, Project Manager in the Mobility Research Group, to provide updates on this work and discuss the coordination needed between agencies, organizations, and industry to make progress on these initiatives, and the barriers to deployment.

The Waycare crowdsourcing platform will feed information to NJDOT’s traffic operations centers to help resolve traffic issues and improve safety.

Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations

Q.  Can you give us an update on the STIC incentive grant and the pilot of the Waycare crowdsourced data platform?

Waycare is in the DOT’s procurement process.  Once we have access to the information, the pilot will begin. We hope to see an increased situational awareness of the roadways.

Q.  Once it is deployed, will you have data coming in immediately?

We anticipate that we will have data but we will need to evaluate what that data means to us. For example, a key consideration is the definition of terms such as “crash incident,” and “accident.” We need to determine if we accept what the system’s definition of a term is or if we can set a definition.

Once the Waycare system is operating, NJDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Resource Center (ITSRC), housed at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), will be working with NJDOT on the evaluation of the information coming in and matching it up with other information that DOT is utilizing.

Next Generation Traffic Incident Management

Q.  Can you update us on the deployment of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) integration with the State Police?  At the 3rd Quarter STIC meeting in September 2021, you mentioned that the State Police had deployed their CAD system and are still doing some fine-tuning.

The State Police deployed their system at the end of June and are continuing to make adjustments to the system and train staff in its use. They will be building out the system by adding modules. We are working with the State Police to determine how we will have access to the information gathered and we are working towards an agreement.

Q.  Traffic Incident Management must require coordination with numerous organizations, yes?

The Department promotes the safety of traffic incident first responders through their Move Over campaign.

Yes, in fact, we just had our statewide Traffic Incident Management (TIM) meeting today where we reported out on what we have been working on, what we will be doing in the next six months, and what help we will need from others. The various participating groups also report out. TIM involves coordination with first aid, EMS, the State Police, the MPOs, municipal fire departments, the Department of Health, and many others. We have been working on the Move Over bumper sticker campaign, and the National Crash Responder Safety Week was in November, so there are a lot of initiatives that we are working on through the year with a purpose of reducing time an incident is on a roadway and keeping first responders safe while responding to an incident.

Q.  Has there been any progress on establishing an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) platform or core software? What are the steps involved? What are you ultimately looking for with this platform?

In our operations centers, we gather data from many systems such as highway cameras, and travel times, as well as other information. The ATMS platform would combine these multiple platforms into one so that NJDOT operators can look in one place for all the information collected. The State Police CAD data could be included in this core software system.

We want one platform for our existing systems and we are also looking towards what we will need in the future. We worked with an engineering consultant firm to determine required elements, desired elements, and future needs. We were looking for a vendor that has a system that was already built and could then be customized to meet the Department’s needs. Any system would need to work with systems that DOT is currently using. We consulted with NJDOT Safety Service Patrol (SSP) and electrical maintenance, among others, to see what future needs they could anticipate. We wanted to cast a wide enough net to avoid missing something that other groups can anticipate now that they would need later on. We also talked to other state DOTs to receive feedback about their systems.  The pandemic slowed progress on this effort and we have not contracted with a vendor yet.

It is anticipated that the platform will be built out through the addition of modular components. This makes it difficult to predict when the platform will be ready to use.

Weather Responsive Management Systems (WRMS)

Q.  Congratulations on receiving the ITS-NJ 2021 Outstanding Project Award for the Weather Savvy Roads project. What is happening with the project?

The Weather Savvy Roads project was a collaboration with many individuals and organizations.  The project has expanded to 23, and soon to be 24, equipped vehicles. Equipped trucks include six Safety Service Patrol vehicles (3 north, 3 south) which operate 24/7, two incident management response (IMRT) trucks which can respond to incidents at any time (1 north, 1 south), and Operations vehicles including 7 snow plow vehicles (3 north, 2 central, 2 south) and pickup trucks used by supervisors who can respond where needed. We are still working on modifications and analysis of the data we have received.

Weather Savvy instrumentation displays atmospheric conditions and a dashboard view of road conditions in real time.

The Mobile Road Weather Information System (MRWIS) provides information on ambient temperature, road temperature, road condition and grip, as well as a windshield view of road conditions. Management can see what the drivers are seeing. The information helps to assess a storm’s duration and intensity while it is ongoing. The data available through the system has helped management make decisions. For example, last winter a Director referred to the system to determine how much longer crews  would need to be out on the road based on conditions, and could predict another two hours commitment.

WRMS can also assist in traffic incident management. Video of an incident, captured by an NJDOT responder truck, provides much more information than a verbal description of an incident scene. The detail can help ensure that individuals in the field can get the appropriate support and get the road back open more quickly.

NJDOT has extended the pilot deadline to June 2022 to include a second winter using the WRMS. This expansion will allow us to test the system on a potentially wider range of weather conditions, and assess the durability of the equipment. Last winter, NJIT analyzed the information we were collecting and found an issue with the data being reported. The vendor had to change their manufacturing process to address condensation issues and we installed replacement sensors.

Q.  What do you anticipate being the next steps?

We are exploring how to bring this system inside the Department. Currently, the Weather Savvy website is hosted by the ITSRC at NJIT.

Other Innovative Initiatives Underway through Research or Other Activities

Q.  Are there non-EDC innovations being undertaken at NJDOT or elsewhere in NJ that should be highlighted to STIC partners? 

Drivewyze® is a phone app that is used to inform truck drivers of upcoming weigh stations, enabling drive-by of weigh stations, and provides in-cab alerts about slowdowns or other road issues. The Department could use the system to alert truckers to specific conditions, such as truck restrictions on snow-covered roadways before they enter the State, to allow truckers to make adjustments. NJDOT is trying the system out for a year to look at the value of the information and what impact it may have.

We are also using video analytics to look at truck parking in the Harding Truck Rest Area during winter storms. Both commercial trucks and Safety Service Patrol vehicles use this rest area, and the space can become overly full and entrances and exits can be blocked. SSP vehicles need to be able to get into and out of the area to respond to incidents and for shift changes. We installed devices in the parking stalls, which provide information indicating when they are occupied, and cameras identify when trucks are parked in non-marked parking spaces. From the data collected, we hope to determine prime times for usage, and we are trying to find a way to communicate with truckers. NJIT is conducting this study through the ITSRC.


Resources

More Information on the STIC initiatives highlighted in this interview is available using the following links:

Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations - https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2021/01/01/crowdsourcing-for-advancing-operations/

Next Generation TIM - https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2021/04/19/next-generation-tim/

Weather Responsive Management Strategies - https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/weather-responsive-management-strategies/

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development in NJ: An Interview with the Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

FHWA is promoting Strategic Workforce Development in highway maintenance, construction and operations.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 innovative initiative, 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.  An important element of this initiative is the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector.  Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping their future workforces, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey (ACCNJ) is a construction trade association representing union construction companies, including highway, bridge, and vertical construction in the tri-state area and beyond, representing both small and larger companies. ACCNJ’s mission is to raise the standard of construction in New Jersey by providing a diverse array of training and educational programs and information for their membership. We spoke with Jill Schiff (Executive Director, Operations) and Darlene Regina (COO) to hear their perspective on pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in New Jersey. 

ACCNJ provides education and training for member union construction companies.

ACCNJ provides education and training for member union construction companies.

 

Q. Is there a lack of awareness among women and minorities of jobs in the construction industry? Do you know of programs that are building awareness of opportunities in transportation?

People understand what construction is and that it is a necessity. They see a plumber or electrician working on their home, an addition going up on the neighborhood school or a group of craftworkers in a work zone widening a highway.  Being able to break down what they already know and being able to show them how many opportunities exist in the industry is where we need to meet them.

Union construction trades are progressive in attracting qualified applicants.  In addition to traditional avenues, they work with community groups, government entities, and school districts as a way to share information about their programs.  All construction trades do conduct outreach to women and minorities, as unions are open to all and labor management cooperatives work on increasing diversity.

The industry makes an effort to actively promote construction career opportunities through a variety of paths, individually and collectively. For example, the EAS Regional Council of Carpenters has a “Career Connections” program for high school students and “CARP” for women and minorities. Union jobs offer competitive pay and benefits, continuous training opportunities, and access to technology. Three- to five-year union construction apprenticeship programs are rewarding and valuable as they prepare participants for successful careers. Apprentices are learning skills while simultaneously earning a salary. There are nominal up-front fees for apprenticeships, such as union dues and/or application fees. Applicants are also required to hold a high school diploma or GED, a driver’s license, be drug-free, and be able to read for information and have math competency.

The annual Construction Industry Career Day offers information and hands-on learning to high school students.

On the collective side, ACCNJ oversees a Construction Industry Career Day, a two-day event for high school students, supported by the unions, various trade associations, and government agencies. The event started in 2001 and attracts about 3,000 people each year.  We advertise the event to every high school in the state, general, private and vo-tech. The event offers hands-on skills learning for different occupations in the field and students are able to talk to current apprentices. Parents and guardians are encouraged to join us so they can become aware of the diverse construction career paths. The next event is scheduled for May 31st and June 1st in 2022.

This NJ DOL program assists high school juniors and seniors to transition to high-skill, high-wage employment.

This NJ DOL program assists high school juniors and seniors to transition to high-skill, high-wage employment.

The New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council, which coordinates activity and provides resources to 15 affiliated trades unions in the construction industry, is involved in the New Jersey Youth Transitions to Work Program, a state-funded program promoting work-based learning and the establishment of linkages among secondary schools, post-secondary and registered apprenticeships. They also support the Helmets to Hardhats program designed to help transitioning military personnel pursue careers in the building and construction industry.

 

Q. What are the principal challenges for women and minorities to enter apprenticeship programs and the construction industry? 

This program helps veterans and other service people transition to career and training opportunities in the construction industry.

This program helps veterans and other service people transition to career and training opportunities in the construction industry.

The main challenges for women and minorities entering the field often relate to transportation and childcare. Reliable childcare is an especially significant barrier for female candidates.

Some individuals do not hold a valid driver’s license or have access to a vehicle, making it difficult or impossible to access job sites located far from their homes or in areas outside central cities where public transportation is limited.

New Jersey is a US Department of Labor (USDOL) apprenticeship state. Apprenticeship programs are audited by the US DOL annually and have to demonstrate certain percentages of women and minority members.

 

Q. You have worked with Sisters in the Brotherhood. It sounds like a successful program. Can you tell us about this?

Part of the Carpenters Union, Sisters in the Brotherhood provides advocacy and skills training for women.

Part of the Carpenters Union, Sisters in the Brotherhood provides advocacy and skills training for women.

Sisters in the Brotherhood is an international program supporting female members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.  They advocate for issues women face in the industry, teach educational leadership skills, and offer mentoring to retain and elevate women in the local unions.  The focus on fostering a kinship among female members and hold events to enable social interactions.

Sisters in the Brotherhood does have a role in apprenticeships, which varies by local area. Pre-COVID, they had a very successful 12-week course that focused on upgrading math skills and the ability to read for information, and on physical strength training which is necessary in the construction field.

 

Q. Can you tell us about the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) program that has similar supports?

LIUNA members work on highway construction projects.

LIUNA members work on highway construction projects.

LIUNA is one of the more diverse unions in the state. They offer membership affinity groups for networking, mentorship, and engagement to promote individual and professional development. They convene a woman’s caucus, an African American caucus, and a Latino caucus, and possibly others.

 

Q. Would you say there are any model practices currently among community-based organizations to support women and minority individuals looking at the construction trades?

Community-based organizations such as the Newark Alliance, Urban League in Essex County, Urban League of Camden County and the Edison Job Corps Center in Middlesex County teach skills, including soft skills, to help make individuals more employable and independent. These organizations are an important support to the trades in attracting women and minorities to the profession.

 

Q. What types of construction pre-apprenticeship programs are there in NJ?

Pre-apprenticeship programs are becoming more prevalent in New Jersey. These programs are valuable because they focus on preparing participants with the soft skills needed to succeed in the construction trades. Participants who complete pre-apprenticeship programs are still required to apply for apprenticeship programs.

For example, the Bricklayers have a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program. Laborers also had a pre-apprenticeship program in Jersey City but it was directed more to building laborers.

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

NJ DOL provides funding for apprenticeship and other training programs.

 

Q. Do you have any insights into the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) apprenticeship programs, and the legislation behind them? Are any of the programs relevant to the highway construction trades?

Remember that NJDOL does not implement apprenticeships; however, they do have an Office of Apprenticeship that assists organizations with apprenticeships via grants and other opportunities.

As we said, pre-apprenticeship programs are becoming more common in the state. The NJ Office of Apprenticeship is offering funding to support these initiatives through their Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS) and Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) programs.

 

 

 


Resources

Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey
https://accnj.org/

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 6, Strategic Workforce Development
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/strategic_workforce_development.cfm

Laborers International Union of North America
https://www.liuna.org/

New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council
http://www.njbctc.org/

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

Sisters in the Brotherhood
https://www.carpenters.org/sisters-in-the-brotherhood/

Succession Planning Literature Scan

Strategic Workforce Development (SWD) is a model innovation in the latest round of the FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC-6).  The NJ STIC expressed the objective to “reinvigorate succession planning programs to address workforce development in managerial skills” during this round. 

At the 2nd Quarter 2021 STIC meeting, a presentation, Reinvigorating Succession Planning and Special Recruitment Programs, briefed attendees on key features and lessons from a past succession planning initiative undertaken at NJDOT.  Subsequently in September 2021, the innovation implementation team participated in a “Let’s Go: Accelerating Innovation through Teamwork” training workshop led by the FHWA to focus on key strategic actions to reinstate and retool succession planning within the agency.

To further inform this effort, the below literature scan highlights examples of succession planning initiatives being undertaken by other leading State DOTs.

Introduction to Succession Planning

NJDOT, as with other state DOTs, can anticipate impending retirements and a continuing loss of knowledge and experience with the retirement of baby boomers in the coming years. NJDOT recognized and addressed the potential loss of qualified leadership with its innovative succession planning program in operation from 2001 to 2010.  The GAO (2005) describes succession planning as an ongoing, strategic process for identifying and developing a diverse pool of talent for an organization’s potential future leaders.  Succession planning programs are often one element in a larger workforce planning program. Several other techniques of knowledge transfer, including cross-training, job talks, Communities of Practice, and a Lessons Learned database, can be employed within and between units to address potential knowledge gaps.

The State of Missouri illustrates the succession planning process in their Succession Planning Playbook.

The State of Missouri illustrates the succession planning process in their Succession Planning Playbook.

With a succession planning process, the agency works to anticipate vacancies in key leadership positions, identifies the skills required to fill those positions, and establishes a system of mentoring and professional development to prepare individuals for leadership roles. Increasingly, succession planning programs are also addressing gaps in mission-critical positions at other levels in the organization in response to retirements, promotions and turn-over. Succession planning programs can help DOTs proactively address continuing challenges with employee retention, filling skills gaps within the organization at all levels, finding qualified workers in new technologies and increasing diversity in leadership positions.

State DOTs increasingly recognize the need for leadership to establish a vision and goals for diversity and its close relationship to succession planning.  According to Cronin, “In order to ensure diversity is upheld within the highest levels of the organization, it is important that agencies are intentional about their plans for including minorities in their succession planning and that top management fully supports those plans” (Cronin et. al, 2011 p. 104).

Workplace culture plays a large role in employee retention. Improving this culture by providing mentoring, rotational job training, professional development, and succession planning can aid in the retention of transportation employees (Cronin et. al, 2011). Providing career pathways at all levels can help a state DOT compete with the private sector, which tends to offer higher pay, and other public agencies that are vying for applicants with the same skills as are needed at DOTs.

At the most basic level, the availability of career paths “improves job satisfaction, employee motivation, and employee commitment” (Cronin, 2011, p.48).  The availability of promotional opportunities for workers and access to continuing pathways for promotion is integral to an agency's employee retention strategy.  Lower-level employees look to see people of similar background in management positions, and advancement opportunities must be visible in order to increase retention. Training programs and individual training plans can create a more flexible employee population and encourage younger employees to stay with the organization. Other retention strategies improve workplace culture by supporting and valuing individual employees, cultural understanding and respect.

State DOTs need employees familiar with new technologies such as Weather Responsive Management Systems, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Connected Vehicles, and Transportation Incident Management.

State DOTs need employees familiar with new technologies such as Weather Responsive Management Systems, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Connected Vehicles, and Transportation Incident Management.

State DOTs increasingly face the need to recruit and retain a technically diverse workforce capable of working on emerging technologies to manage infrastructure more effectively and share information quickly. In a recent survey for NCHRP Project 20-07, DOTs identified new and emerging positions that might expose significant gaps in expertise at all levels related to these technologies (Szymkowski and Ivey, 2019).

Succession Planning at NJDOT

NJDOT’s Succession Planning program operated from 2001 to 2010.  According to staff, the program was seen as a model for other DOTs around the nation, as it was one of the first formal Succession Planning programs in the U.S. for the industry. The program was initiated as a response to large numbers of retirements and the accompanying loss of critical knowledge. Participants had to be employed at Range 26 or higher to participate. The program included mentoring and training for leadership skills, management, data analysis, team coaching, organizational talent and other competencies required of leaders. With their mentors, participants designed individual development plans. One-to-one coaching and Lunch & Learn sessions provided opportunities to exchange information. Funding for the program covered the program manager’s salary and a staff of three (a secretary, a professional and a paraprofessional.)

The selection process was geared toward managing diversity within the group, with regard to race, gender, location, occupation and employment level. Under the first manager, the application process was open. Anyone interested could apply and applications were reviewed by a Steering Committee, comprised of three directors, two assistant commissioners, one deputy commissioner, and the program manager. In the first year, a total of 53 applicants, or one-half of all applicants, were accepted. In the ensuing years, with five more cohorts instated, the application process became increasingly rigorous. Employees could not self-nominate, but needed two nominations: one from a manager or above in their own division and one from a manager or above outside their division. Applicants had to complete an extensive questionnaire and write an essay. An interview was required with the third cohort, and with the fourth, three nominations were required (one from the director level) followed by a second interview.


The NJDOT Division of Civil Rights ADA/504 Coordinator presented on reinvigorating a Succession Planning program at NJDOT at the STIC 2nd Quarter, 2021 Meeting.

Succession planning programs in private industry typically keep their program population to no more than 2 percent of the total employee population. Generally, NJDOT participation was limited to around 60 employees at any one time to avoid having too many trainees prepared for too few positions. Participants were not promised a promotion and it was clear that promotions were constrained by the State’s Civil Service system. Generally, after the first year, between 15 and 30 percent of applicants were accepted to the program. People who were not chosen were encouraged to reapply and some did.

The principal program objective was to prepare people to attain the director level. Several program participants moved into leadership positions, according to staff, but no formal records on the program’s results were kept. Women and minorities were promoted through the program. People could stay in the program for several years. Staff estimated that 130 people went through the program and 7-10 people reached the assistant commissioner level. Transitions in and out of the cohorts occurred when people reached the director level, voluntarily left the program, were asked to leave (if they were not doing the work), retired, or gave their spot to someone else. There was an Associate designation for those who left in good standing but had not reached a director position.

The mentoring piece of the succession planning program was generally acknowledged to be valuable. No formal mentoring program has been instituted since the program’s end. Several former employees served as mentors for participants in the succession planning program. They noted that participation in the program did not necessarily lead to increased opportunities for advancement but provided professional development, self-assessment, and skills improvement that made them better supervisors and managers. Individuals reported that, as mentors, they learned more about the organization. In April 2016, NJDOT’s Women in Transportation group launched a Department-wide mentoring program to encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise among employees to build “a stronger, more adaptive organization.”

Benefits of Succession Planning

A succession planning program enables a transportation agency to be continuously prepared for the future, and to fulfill its mission to provide mobility and safety continuously to the traveling public.  State DOTs and state governments are addressing the issue of potential gaps in key positions with a sense of urgency.  Employers are experiencing a wave of retirements and employee transitions fueled by aging baby boomers and disruptions attributable to Covid-19, technological change, and shifting labor market conditions.

Washington State DOT programs created a 5-track leadership training program.

Washington State DOT programs created a 5-track leadership training program.

Washington State's DOT (WsDOT) has projected retirement vacancies based on employee age, retirement plans, and years of service. The agency seeks to provide a leadership development program that advances in-house staff and that is attractive to those individuals considering employment at WsDOT. In its Leadership Development Succession Planning Report, the agency notes that “leadership programs not only ease the chain of succession, a good program also makes employees more connected and engaged to the organization. This opens up opportunities for knowledge transfer across the agency …. Additionally, this leadership program supports primary aspects of building a great agency culture, highlighting opportunities for growth and development, which is a compelling recruitment tool for sourcing new talent outside of the agency” (Millar & Pelton, 2018).

Succession planning programs and related knowledge management strategies improve employee morale by providing opportunities to increase knowledge and build expertise, and create a path for advancement. Effective training strategies signal to current and potential employees that the organization is investing in its workforce and is seeking ways to prepare employees to adapt to changing job requirements, acquire new skills, and to promote excellence in the workplace. In some cases, training may also signal the agency’s intentions to prepare its employees for greater managerial responsibilities. Such training may increase retention by improving the readiness of an employee for a new position.

Existing Practices

Although specific content and curricula of succession planning programs in other states is generally unavailable through desktop methods, many DOTs and state government agencies provide guidance for establishing programs.

State DOTs and State Governments

Several state DOTs, including those in Georgia, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin, provide a framework for the organization of succession planning programs. In addition, state governments are facing the issues of retention and the retirement of baby boomers and have provided guidelines for establishing succession planning programs for adoption by all of their state agencies, including DOTs.

In general, these guides present similar steps for successful implementation of succession planning programs. Not all guides include all of the steps (See Table 1).

Table 1. Succession Planning Program Steps for Implementation

Links to examples of worksheets and forms, from the state governments of Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Oregon, designed to assist with implementing and recording these steps can be found in the resources section below.

Leadership Training for All

Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington DOTs have leadership training programs for employees at almost all levels of their organization.  Leadership training programs enable employees to improve their leadership skills and knowledge of the organization and may prepare participants to be more competitive for positions in other units, even if they are not focused on upper management positions. Some of these programs are self-initiated and self-paced.

Virginia DOT promotes its Core Development Program on its website to attract and inform potential employees.

Virginia DOT promotes its Core Development Program on its website to attract and inform potential employees.

Washington DOT developed a five-track program open to employees at all levels of the organization. The program content, aligned with a statewide leadership development program, is available through the agency’s learning management system. Utah DOT (UDOT) has a four-tiered Leadership Development Program that all employees can participate in, until the last step in the program, the Utah Leadership Institute, which is only open to individuals by invitation from agency senior leadership. Nevada DOT developed a Leadership Academy based on The Leadership Challenge®. The program is open to all DOT employees. Information on this program is located on the NDOT Careers page, as a recruitment strategy.

Virginia DOT has a comprehensive set of programs to assist all interested employees gain leadership skills and advance internally. Each of the programs have metrics such as the number of employees who were able to move laterally or up in the organization, skill acquisition, or acquisition of leadership competencies, among others (See Table 2).

Table 2. Virginia Department of Transportation Employee Development Programs

Source: University of Memphis & VDOT

Workforce Planning Model in Texas identifies key steps in phases.

Workforce Planning Model in Texas identifies key steps in phases.

Emerging Practices

Knowledge Management

Succession planning can be a standalone program or part of a larger workforce planning program. Several knowledge management strategies can be employed to transfer knowledge between mentor and mentee in the succession planning process. These strategies also frequently factor into workforce planning. Any employee exiting the organization may have decades of experience, technical expertise, and institutional knowledge, that should be captured. The agency needs to identify critical knowledge that should be captured, and identify effective knowledge sharing tools for the types of knowledge to be transferred, and the audience (State of Texas, 2013).

Some of the following strategies, tools and techniques can be built into the individual development plan for employees selected for the succession planning program. All of these strategies, tools and techniques could be considered for agency-wide implementation.

 

Table 3. Knowledge Management Strategies, Tools and Techniques 

 

Strategies, Tools and Techniques

 

Description

Annotated Template/ Guidance Document Templates, outlines, or other content/format guidelines to provide guidance on items for inclusion and how to go about writing and documentation.
Communities of Practice A group of people who deepen their knowledge and expertise by interacting with each other over time and who share that collaborative knowledge with others in the organization, but not a formally constituted work team.
Critical Incident Review/ Lessons Learned Capture lessons of experienced employees’ approach to problem solving. Creates a database and allows for discussion of what worked, what did not work, and why. Focuses on finding root causes and process issues
Cross-generational Mentoring An agreement describes formal and informal meetings to mentor employees new to the organization. Can include “reverse-mentoring” in technology-related areas to include experienced employees willing to be mentored by younger employees.
Cross-training and mobility assignments Training of employees to learn about other positions in the organization, and to perform the job functions while maintaining their own position.
Desk-Side Reviews A successor sits down with the upcoming retiree at the retiree’s desk and listens as they show notes, templates, shortcuts, or memory aids for performing the job.
Expert Interviews Skilled interviewer asks questions of employee to make tacit knowledge explicit.
Job Shadowing Veteran employee shares knowledge with a less experienced employee and provides hands-on practice in dealing with everyday problems and the most difficult situations
Knowledge Maps Used to discover the location, form, ownership, value and use of knowledge and people’s expertise to make better use of knowledge and identify barriers to knowledge flow. Can help to identify areas in need of succession planning.
Last Lecture/Story Telling/Oral History Retiring employee or employee with expertise is encouraged to give a presentation in a staff meeting and/or lunchtime talk.  Event can be face-to-face or via a video.   Description of what really happened to give context, engage feelings and minds, help listeners see relevancy to their own situation
Mentoring Programs Training for specific situations or developmental needs, effective for transferring organizational cultural information, relationships outside units, develop higher level of proficiency
Peer Exchange Peers from state DOTs, or regional and local governments, meet to exchange ideas and best practices on a specific topic to benefit research, development, and technology transfer programs.
Procedure Manual Manual that describes the specific processes and procedures required to accomplish the work of a unit or of a particular position.
Process Documentation Flow diagrams that illustrate a process and identifies roles and responsibilities of various parties, including process, participants and products at each step in the process.
Research Research advances innovation and contributes to broad implementation of specific processes and procedures.
Tech Talk Events SMEs present information on specific innovative initiatives or research findings at lunchtime talks or half-day events
Training SME conducts training session on specific topic
Videos Illustrates how a job or task is done or innovation is achieved. Documents model or innovative practices.
Webinar SMEs conduct online training that can be accessed live or reposed for on-demand use.
Workshop Half-day or full-day event including practical application of knowledge transferred.
Challenges

When implementing succession planning, DOTs may face barriers from other institutions such as civil service systems and unions.

Civil Service System

The Civil Service system in New Jersey State Government greatly affects NJDOT’s approach to recruitment, retention, and advancement of its workers. The NJ Civil Service Commission (NJCSC), part of the State Treasury department, oversees the implementation of these regulations.  Recruitment and hiring for most NJDOT job titles is subject to the NJCSC’s competitive hiring and recruitment system.  All applicants for “Open Competitive positions” must score highly on a Civil Service test and/or meet other requirements.   NJCSC operates under the “Rule of Three” under which NJDOT must select from the first three highest ranking candidates on a given list.

NJCSC seeks to ensure adherence to the Disabled Veterans and Veterans “Absolute Preference” requirements in hiring and promotion.  The “Rule of Three” and “Absolute Preference” are applied differently in Open Competitive and Promotional examination situations.  While Veterans and Disabled Veterans have an absolute preference when creating the rank of the eligible lists over all other candidates in order of their scores, promotional exam eligible lists differ in that all candidates, including veterans, are ranked by their score with no distinction among disabled veterans and veterans in promotional exams.  However, when a veteran is ranked number one on a promotional certification, a nonveteran cannot be appointed.

To ensure access to skilled workers under hiring freeze conditions and periods of skilled worker shortages, the State has created two processes that allow State agencies to bypass some Civil Service rules during the recruitment and hiring process.  The first of these are positions designated as “non-competitive”, which include civil engineering trainees (CETs) and other titles approved by the Civil Service Commission.  For these positions, most Civil Service requirements are waived for the initial hiring process, and workers in these positions do not need to test at all for their entry-level promotion, but are required to follow Civil Service rules for any subsequent promotions.  The second type of position is referred to as a “provisional trainee.” Faced with the possibility that approval for open positions might be rescinded, NJDOT may hire in advance of the test. A provisional trainee must test after hire to hold the position, but exams are administered infrequently.

Most positions available at NJDOT are subject to Civil Service Rules either at the point of hiring and/or at the point of promotion. The only positions that are not subject to Civil Service rules in any form are considered “unclassified” positions, also known as political appointee positions.  These include many leadership positions, including the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners.  However, there are also a select number of additional “unclassified” positions, including “special assistants” who oversee the agency’s increasing number of outside contracts. The number of unclassified positions is determined by statute.

Employees have a path for advancement from entry-level trainee to supervisor.

Employees have a path for advancement from entry-level trainee to supervisor.

Recent structural shifts, such as the stepped testing and advancement available through the Vision 2020 program, and the expanded promotion of Assistant Engineers to Senior Engineers, offer examples of NJDOT initiatives that have the support of the Civil Service Commission.

Union Environment

Succession planning programs may be perceived as bypassing traditional hiring processes and privileging a potential successor for a particular position, a process that unions would oppose for positions covered by collective bargaining agreements. Including union representatives when developing succession planning programs can help address issues early in the program development.

Recommendations
New and Emerging Transportation Systems Management and Operations PositionsEmployee Expectations

Most of the guidance developed by other state governments includes a caveat that participation in a succession planning process is not a guarantee of promotion, and does not replace a competitive hiring process. The former NJDOT program included similar language. Employees in succession planning programs may need to be assured that there are no negative repercussions if they leave the program, and must fully understand the expectations and limitations of the program.

By providing various training opportunities that are open to all, no matter what level, the agency avoids the perception that it supports an “elitist” training program.

Participation in programs should not depend solely on the need for a supervisor’s recommendation. Individuals may have conflicts with supervisors and may not be able to request that recommendation.

New Technologies

New technologies require skills sets that may not be represented in the agency. Agencies need to predict technological advances, conduct a gap analysis at all levels to determine if current employees have the skills required for these technologies, there is a need to train current employees for this work, or if there is a need to hire for these positions. State DOTs increasingly face the need to recruit and retain a technically diverse workforce capable of working on emerging technologies to manage infrastructure more effectively and share information quickly. In a recent survey for NCHRP Project 20-07, DOTs identified new and emerging positions in Transportation Systems Management and Operations (Szymkowski and Ivey, 2019). (See Text Box)

Moving Forward

Many of the state DOTs and state governments express the need for immediate action when considering impending gaps in agency leadership. At this critical time, NJDOT is considering the renewal of the succession planning program, to include two levels, for leadership positions and management positions. Providing mentoring and training to program participants will prepare them to assume leadership positions to guarantee consistent service to the traveling public.

Resources

The following documents provide examples of templates and forms for implementing the steps of a succession planning program.

State of Michigan. Succession Planning Tool Kit. https://pdf4pro.com/view/succession-planning-tool-kit-michigan-gov-54f9d.html

State of Missouri. Succession Planning Playbook. https://leadershipacademy.mo.gov/documents/Class3/20200203%20MLA%20-%20Class%203%20-%20Capstone%20Team%20B%20-%20Playbook.pdf

State of Oregon. Employee resources and state workforce: Succession Planning. https://www.oregon.gov/das/HR/Pages/success-plan.aspx


Bibliography

Cronin, B., Anderson, L., Heinen, B., Cronin, C.B., Fien-Helfman, D., & Venner, M. (2011). Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce. NCHRP Report 685. Washington, D.C.: National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. https://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/164747.aspx

Meadati, P., Toson, S., & Jambro, J. 2014. Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Leadership Academy.http://www.dot.ga.gov/BuildSmart/research/Documents/GDOT%20Leadership%20Academy%20Final%20Report.pdf

Government Accountability Office (GAO). (2005). Diversity Management: Expert-Identified Leading Practices and Agency Examples. Washington DC:  Government Accountability Office. https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-05-90

Millar, R. and Pelton, J. 2018. Report on Agency Succession Planning & Leadership Training. Washington State Department of Transportation. https://wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/LegReports//17-19/WSDOT_LeadershipDevelopmentSuccessionPlanningReport.pdf

National Academies of Sciences. 2019. Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25624.

National Academies of Sciences. 2015. A Guide to Agency-Wide Knowledge Management for State Departments of Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/22098

Nevada Department of Transportation. 2021. NDOT’s Leadership Academy for Employees. https://www.dot.nv.gov/doing-business/careers

State of Michigan. (n.d.) Succession Planning Tool Kit. https://pdf4pro.com/view/succession-planning-tool-kit-michigan-gov-54f9d.html

State of Missouri. Succession Planning Playbook. n.d. https://leadershipacademy.mo.gov/documents/Class3/20200203%20MLA%20-%20Class%203%20-%20Capstone%20Team%20B%20-%20Playbook.pdf

State of Ohio. 2011. Ohio’s Talent for Tomorrow and Beyond, Succession Planning Manager’s Toolkit. https://www.das.ohio.gov/Portals/0/DASDivisions/HumanResources/LPD/pdf/Succession%20Planning%20Product%20Documentation.pdf

State of Oregon. Employee resources and state workforce: Succession Planning. https://www.oregon.gov/das/HR/Pages/success-plan.aspx

State of Texas Auditor’s Office. 2017. Workforce Planning Guide. https://sao.texas.gov/Reports/Main/17-708.pdf

Tennessee State Government. 2017. Agency Guide to Workforce/Succession Planning. https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/hr/documents/Agency_Workforce_Succession_Planning_Guide.pdf

Szymkowski T. and Ivey, S. 2019. TR News: Job Openings for Transportation System Management and Operations. Washington, D.C., The National Academies.  https://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/180431.aspx

University of Memphis and VDOT. n.d. Virginia Transportation Training Programs. https://www.memphis.edu/setwc/docs/va_compendium.pdf

Utah Department of Transportation. 2021. Leadership Development. https://www.udot.utah.gov/connect/employee-resources/employee-training/udotu/leadership-development/

Image of a street iwth four lanes for traffic, three parked cars, and a series of shops, such as center city deli, hi five, Ocean Therapy, and casino city barber and salon

ATLANTIC AVENUE, ATLANTIC CITY: Planning for Safer Conditions for All Roadway Users

In November, the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) announced that Atlantic City would receive $10.3 million as part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program. The grant award will help to fund the Atlantic City Corridor Revitalization and Safety Project, which aims to implement Complete Streets improvements on approximately 2.7 miles of Atlantic Avenue. The project will include a road diet, ADA accessible sidewalks, drainage facilities, new bike lanes, traffic signal synchronization, LED streetlighting, and improved accessibility at transit stops.

Supported by the RAISE funds, the project will enhance safety and provide alternative transportation options for residents and visitors who travel for work, school, medical appointments, recreational activities, and other daily activities.

The below article, originally posted in July 2021, describes several planning activities that helped lead to this successful Federal grant award.

Image of a bus with passengers boarding, reading Atlantic Avenue Road Safety Audit Atlantic City, New Jersey, Report, December 2014

The Atlantic Avenue Road Safety Audit was performed by a multidisciplinary team that analyzed high incident areas along the route, courtesy NJDOT

Atlantic City, well known for its resorts, casinos, and boardwalk, has a large share of residents who use alternative transportation modes daily: about 30 percent of its residents use public transit and 17 percent walk to work. On centrally-located Atlantic Avenue, high pedestrian volumes and a disproportionate number of traffic incidents have prompted several studies to determine the scope of needed infrastructure improvements to support pedestrian and bicycle safety and address deficiencies for vehicular travel.  New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO), the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, in partnership with the City, supported these studies to analyze conditions along the route and to make recommendations for a safer corridor.  The decade-long planning process for the Atlantic Avenue corridor provides an example of collaboration between the municipality, SJTPO and NJDOT to implement safety improvements for all roadway users.

The planning process used strategies such as Data-Driven Safety Analysis and Road Safety Audits that are supported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Many of the study recommendations include safety countermeasures that FHWA has promoted through its Every Day Counts (EDC)-4 and EDC-5 Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian, or STEP, Innovative Initiative. These strategies include Leading Pedestrian Intervals, Crosswalk Visibility Enhancements, Pedestrian Crossing/Refuge Islands, and Road Diets. The EDC program identifies proven and underutilized innovations and promotes rapid deployment.

About the Corridor

Atlantic Avenue is a major thoroughfare through the center of Atlantic City. The street is 69 feet wide, with four travel lanes and a fifth lane at some intersections for turning. Along the corridor, there are retail and commercial centers, a bus terminal, healthcare facilities, and a public library. Eleven bus stops, each accommodating up to ten different bus routes, provide frequent transit service and contribute to high pedestrian volume. The Atlantic City Rail Terminal is situated several blocks to the Northeast, adding to pedestrian trips.

Due to high foot traffic, and the nature of the roadway, this segment of Atlantic Avenue saw 829 crashes in a five-year period, from 2013 to 2017. Compared to the rest of the municipality, three times as many incidents involving pedestrians, and twice as many involving cyclists occurred along this 2.65 mile stretch. Recognizing the ongoing challenges, leaders and transportation planners at both the City and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) initiated the process to study safety improvements for this important corridor.

2011 – A Policy Framework

Following NJDOT’s adoption of a Complete Streets policy in 2009, Atlantic City passed its 2011 Complete Streets policy to promote consideration of the safety of all roadway users in infrastructure planning. The resolution mentions the need to improve safety for cyclists and all users of a street, such as the elderly, non-drivers, and the mobility impaired. It acknowledges, too, that incorporating pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure can simultaneously reduce traffic congestion and fossil fuel emissions. The 2011 resolution and policy supports the City Planning Department’s goals of improving bicycle and pedestrian safety and accessibility, enhancing economic development, and developing initiatives to increase residents’ knowledge of safe bicycle and pedestrian travel (Atlantic City Resolution No. 917).

2013  – Atlantic City Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan

Image of plan cover page, the first reads Atlantic City, always turned on, Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, Local Planning Assistance Program, Final May 2013, an dbelow four square images, clockwise of people crossing a street, a man in a wheelchair waiting to cross, a young girl feeding gulls on the boardwalk, and people biking along the boardwalk. Below it reads Prepared for: The New Jersey Department of Transportation and the City of Atlantic City.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan helped to first identify problem areas along Atlantic City's Atlantic Avenue, courtesy NJDOT

NJDOT funded the 2013 Atlantic City Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan through the agency’s Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), which helps New Jersey municipalities improve active transportation infrastructure.

Consultants analyzed the City’s bicycle and pedestrian network, and made suggestions for improvements in areas of concern. Among the City’s streets, the Atlantic Avenue corridor ranked first for both pedestrian and bicycle crashes. Analysts also identified the corridor as the location of 8 of the top 10 intersections for pedestrian or bicycle crashes.

According to the Plan, “Pedestrian safety is imperative not only because each of us becomes a pedestrian as part of every trip, but also because creating safe walkable streets is critical to the success of the City redevelopment and tourist efforts.” However, the document notes that, at the date of publication, there were no dedicated bicycling facilities in Atlantic City. (Atlantic City Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan).

The 2013 Plan suggested several alternatives for street design interventions in Atlantic City. On Atlantic Avenue, Alternative 1 involved removing a lane of travel in each direction, widening the median, installing buffered bike lanes between Ohio and Maine Avenues on the corridor. In the same stretch, Alternative 2 proposed using parking as a buffer for bike lanes abutting the curb on each stretch. The report concluded by calling for the formation of a task force of stakeholders to discuss the implementation of such road diets.

2014 – Atlantic Avenue Road Safety Audit (RSA)

Graphic with a depiction of a magnifying glass covering a road with people walking on it, reading "Road Safety Audits: a Road Safety Audit is a proactive formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent and multi disciplinary team. Safety Benefit: 10 to 60 percent reduction in total crashes.

RSA's were one of the safety countermeasures FHWA promoted through EDC-4 and EDC-5, courtesy FHWA

The following year, the Transportation Safety Research Center (TSRC) at the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), in collaboration with the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) and the City of Atlantic City, conducted a road safety audit of the most heavily trafficked portion of Atlantic Avenue, between South Carolina and Michigan Avenues. This study analyzed dangerous intersections in depth along the Atlantic Avenue corridor.

Road Safety Audits (RSA) are one of FHWA’s proven safety countermeasures. An RSA, conducted by a multi-disciplinary team that is independent of the design team, considers all road users and their capabilities and limitations. Findings are documented in a formal report and, while they do not constitute engineering studies, require a response from the road owner. RSAs can result in a 10-60 percent reduction in crashes.

According to FHWA, advantages of an RSA include:

  • Reduced number and severity of crashes due to safer designs.
  • Reduced costs resulting from early identification and mitigation of safety issues before projects are built.
  • Improved awareness of safe design practices.
  • Increased opportunities to integrate multimodal safety strategies and proven safety countermeasures.
  • Expanded ability to consider human factors in all facets of design.

Based on crash data, the RSA identified pedestrian “hot spot” and corridor locations along Atlantic Avenue, between Mississippi Avenue and Virginia Avenue. The study looked at crashes according to time of year, week, and day; lighting conditions; collision type and severity; and intersection.

Bar graph reading Crash Type and Severity, the tallest bars (by a wide margin) are same direction, rear end, and same direction, side swipe. Pedalcyclist and pedestrian collisions rank very high as well.

Many of the incidents involved vehicles striking each other in the same direction, one motivation for the road diet, courtesy SJTPO.

NJDOT provides network screening lists to the three Metropolitan Planning Organizations which identify hot spot and corridor locations based on crash data. The RSA analysts took this data for the SJTPO region and then worked to identify the source of the crashes by examining geometric and physical characteristics of the location. The process involved looking at types of crashes and other details to establish patterns, and then suggesting countermeasures to address those problems. These hot spot lists are crucial to securing federal funding for infrastructure improvements such as the proposed road diet.

The Road Safety Audit identified issues, such as signal phasing, roadway maintenance, and lack of bicycle facilities, and made recommendations. Like the 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, the 2014 Road Safety Audit provided two road diet alternatives, suggesting the removal of one lane to accommodate bike lanes and a median with a turning lane. Road diets are promoted by FHWA as a safety countermeasure that improves speed limit compliance, reduces crashes, and provides a space for enhanced bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

2020 – Atlantic Avenue Road Safety Assessment

PDF cover, reading January 2020, Road Safety Assessment, Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, NJ, then there are three images of the route, rather car-oriented in design, followed by text: Road Safety Assessment, Atlantic Avenue from Boston Avenue to Maine Avenue

A final Road Safety Assessment was performed in 2020, recommending a road diet, with a median and protected bike lanes, courtesy City of Atlantic City

Building on the findings of the 2014 report, consultants in 2019 conducted a data-driven analysis of the conditions along Atlantic Avenue from Boston Avenue to New Hampshire Avenue, and recommended safety countermeasures to improve pedestrian safety, reduce the frequency of vehicular collisions, and improve traffic flow.

The 2020 Atlantic Avenue Road Safety Assessment looked at all crashes along the entire corridor, by crash type (pedestrian, bicycle, parked vehicle), and by intersection. Consultants also conducted travel time runs during each of the corridor’s scheduled signal timing schedules. They engaged in site visits to look for causes of crashes and to observe the condition of the roadway infrastructure, and then developed statistical observations and recommendations from their findings.

Overall, they found a lack of consistency on the roadway that resulted in unpredictable driving conditions. In one example, poorly timed signals caused drivers to try to “beat” the light, which, in combination with poor pedestrian visibility and infrastructure, led to collisions.

For a recommendation, the consultants cite NJDOT guidance for bikeway selection. At the current vehicle traffic figures (Annual Average Daily Traffic 15,000) and an 85th percentile speed of 35 mph, NJDOT recommends a Buffered Bicycle Lane, Separated Bicycle Lane or Shared Use Path. The report presented two preferred options, Alternatives #5 and #6, each of which involve removing a driving lane and adding a median; Alternative #6 would place the bikeway between the curb and parked cars, to decrease the chance of “dooring.” These alternatives recall those suggested by the 2013 Master Plan.

2021 – Atlantic Avenue Road Diet Implementation

Twelve years after Atlantic City passed its Complete Streets policy, a road diet will be built, extending the length of Atlantic Avenue. The four-lane road will be reduced to two travel lanes with a center median. Protected bicycle lanes will be located between the travel lane and curbside parking, in both directions. Other countermeasures to be implemented echoed those called for in the 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, including leading pedestrian intervals, traffic signal heads with backplates, and targeted left turn restrictions. According to City Engineer Uzo Ahiarakwe, improvements to some intersections will include bump-outs to decrease the distance that pedestrians need to cross Atlantic Avenue, synchronization of traffic lights, higher visibility crosswalk striping, and ADA-compliant curb cuts.

Atlantic Avenue’s road diet conversion and additional infrastructure improvements will cost between $8 and $10 million. The City expects to cover 10 percent of the project cost and to receive federal funding for the remaining 90 percent. The project is set to go out to bid in Fall 2021 with construction due to be complete in Summer 2022 (Brunetti).

 

Resources

Brunetti, Michelle. Atlantic City putting Atlantic Avenue on a ‘diet’. March 5, 2021. Press of Atlantic City. https://pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/atlantic-city-putting-atlantic-avenue-on-a-diet/article_f9b1e44f-43f0-5cf2-9b8a-91e4c1d3fb0e.html

City of Atlantic City. (2011). Resolution Establishing and Adopting a City of Atlantic City Complete Streets Policy. City of Atlantic City. http://njbikeped.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Atlantic-City-Complete-Streets-Resolution.pdf

City of Atlantic City. (2013). Atlantic City Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. Local Planning Assistance Program. City of Atlantic City. https://njcrda.com/wp-content/uploads/Atlantic-City-LTA-Final-Report.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. Road Safety Audits. Federal Highway Administration. https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/

Federal Highway Administration. Proven Safety Countermeasures: Road Safety Audits. Federal Highway Administration. https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/road_safety_audit/

Federal Highway Administration. Proven Safety Countermeasures: Road Diets. Federal Highway Administration. https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/road_diets/

JMT. (2020, January). Road Safety Assessment: Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, NJ. City of Atlantic City. https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/19-01474_Road_Safety_Assessment_Report.pdf

South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization. Atlantic Avenue Road Safety Audit. South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization. https://www.sjtpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2014_AC_Atlantic-Avenue-RSA-Report.pdf

 

NJ STIC 4th Quarter 2021 Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened online for the 4th Quarter Meeting on December 15, 2021. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.

Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research greeted the meeting participants, followed by Asst. Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks.

FHWA EDC Innovation. Helene Roberts, Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager for the FHWA NJ Office, reported that the TOPS EDC-6 initiative team had been very active. New Jersey is a leader in Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS) for asphalt solutions. The TOPS session at the County Engineers Fall Forum included the initiative team as well as other speakers who provided New Jersey-specific information to the municipal and county engineers. The TOPS working group met on October 7, 2021 and had input from Monmouth County and Princeton.

Ms. Roberts noted that the Let’s Go Workshop pilot was held at the end of September with the Digital Project Delivery and Strategic Workforce Development initiative teams. She announced that New Jersey will be a featured state at the next National STIC meeting with discussion of the new STIC Communications Plan, and possibly highlighting the use of interactive STIC meetings early in the pandemic, and other topics. She asked that attendees contact Ms. Gendek if they have other suggestions for topics that could be highlighted. She reminded CIA leads that the next progress report is due at the end of January.

Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates of the status of EDC initiatives on the topics of Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, Mobility and Operations, and Organizational Improvement and Support

Featured Presentations.  Kevin Becica, PE, PP, CME, Camden County Engineer described work on Targeted Overlay Pavement Systems Projects Using BRIC and SMA. Ms. Becica provided Westfield Avenue Phases I and II as case examples for the use of Binder Rich Intermediate Course (BRIC) and Stone Matrix Asphalt (SMA). The county road system comprises predominantly older concrete roads, with some asphalt overlay surfaces, and asphalt pavements in the southern section of the county. When the older concrete pavements fail at the longitudinal and transverse joints, the county is using overlay of BRIC and SMA to repair roads rather than use full concrete slab replacement which is expensive. The county uses NJDOT standard specifications for these materials. Some of the benefits of BRIC include a longer life than standard asphalt, a smoother surface, a surface that supports pavement markings so that they remain durable and visible, and a uniform look. Challenges to use of BRIC include higher costs due to the need to shut down regular asphalt production at a plant in order to produce this specialty material. Although utility companies are required to repave after digging up a road, they will replace the material with standard asphalt. Ms. Becica considers that the benefits outweigh the detriments and notes that local officials need to understand the arguments for using these materials. She is looking forward to the next project, possibly on Kings Highway. For more details on Camden County’s use of BRIC and SMA, see Ms. Becica’s presentation.

Sue Catlett, Project Manager in NJDOT’s Mobility Research Group provided an update on the Weather Savvy Roads project, an Accelerated Innovation Deployment Grant-funded project. The project has expanded to 24 equipped vehicles. She discussed the instrumentation process including set-up of the cameras and sensors and other equipment, and the web interface which includes the virtual video wall, the map, the camera view, and ambient air and road temperatures. NJDOT is comparing the value of mobile and fixed RWIS, and testing FirstNet signal strength compared with commercial cellular strength on state roads. The Weather Responsive Management System can also assist in traffic incident management by providing video of an incident scene that can help ensure that individuals in the field receive the appropriate support and get the road back open more quickly. NJDOT is continuing to work on improving the capacity of the video management system, acquiring additional instrumentation, and improving hardware maintenance and driver awareness and understanding of the system. This project won the ITS-NJ 2021 Outstanding Project Award.

Amanda Gendek introduced the 2021 Build A Better Mousetrap Competition Video. The video features the state and local agency winners for 2021 and describes the competition. As highlighted in the video, the next round of submissions of implemented ideas is due on May 1, 2022 for both state and local agency agencies. The Build a Better Mousetrap page on the Technology Transfer website features the competition video as well as the innovations recognized in past years of the competition.  Application for the next round can be found here.

Ms. Gendek also encouraged attendees to contact her if there are innovations at NJDOT or at local agencies that could be advanced through a video. The Bureau of Research’s Technology Transfer program has the contractor and a funding mechanism to produce case study videos highlighting noteworthy innovations.

Reminders and Updates.

Ms. Gendek closed the meeting with information and reminders on the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

A recording of the NJ STIC December Meeting can be here.

Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety here and in the sections below.

NJ STIC December 2021 Meeting Recording

Slide image reading: Welcome, Mike Russo, Assistant Commissioner, NJDOT Planning, Multimodal & Grant AdministrationWelcome Remarks

Slide image reading: FHWA Updates, Helene Roberts, P.E., Innovation Coordinator & Performance Manager, FHWA, NJ Division OfficeFHWA EDC Innovation Updates

Slide image reading: CIA Team Safety NJDOT - Dan LiSanti, FHWA - Keith SkiltonCIA Team Update: Safety

Slide image reading: CIA Team Infrastructure Preservation, NJDOT Bob Signora, FHWA - Nunzio MerlaCIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation

Slide image reading CIA Team Mobility & Ops NJDOT - Sue Catlett, FHWA - Ek PhomsavathCIA Team Update: Mobility and Operations

CIA Team Update: Organizational Improvement and Support

Feature Presentation: Use of BRIC by Camden County

Feature Presentation: Weather Savvy Roads Update

Slide image reading: Reminders & Announcements, NJDOT Tech Transfer Website (www.njdottechtransfer.net), NJ STIC Website (www.njdottechtransfer.net/nj-stic/), and all meeting recordings, presentations, and summary are posted: njdottechtransfer.net/nj-stic-meetingsReminders, Announcements, and Thank You

NJDOT UAS/Drone Procedures Manual and Best Practices for Use in New Jersey

The use of drones at NJDOT has expanded to improve safety and efficiency and save time and money.

The use of drones at NJDOT has expanded to improve safety and efficiency and save time and money.

The NJDOT Knowledge Management Toolbox offers examples of several knowledge sharing practices that have been, or could be, adopted by agency units to retain knowledge in a unit in the face of illness, retirements or transfers to other units at NJDOT.

NJDOT’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Operations Manual (UASFOM) is an example of knowledge sharing through development of a procedures manual that guides practice within the agency. In 2021, Anil Agrawal, PhD., a Professor of Engineering at The City College of CUNY, completed a research study, NJDOT UAS/Drone Procedures Manual and Best Practices for Use in New Jersey, funded through the NJDOT’s Bureau of Research. The study resulted in the UASFOM that standardizes all aspects of UAS operations for NJDOT’s use, and provides guidance to NJDOT personnel, consultants, and contractors for the inspection, operation, and management of UAS. The document emphasizes maintaining a high level of safety standards in daily flight operations while meeting performance targets.

NJDOT’s Bureau of Aeronautics has used drones to video NJDOT dredging operations, among other applications.

NJDOT’s Bureau of Aeronautics has used drones to video NJDOT dredging operations, among other applications.

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 May 2016, the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Division of Multimodal Services established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program as a unit within the Bureau of Aeronautics. Under the direction of NJDOT’s UAS Coordinator, Glenn Stott, NJDOT became a national leader in UAS. Mr. Stott retired from the agency in 2021.

NJDOT Bureau of Aeronautics used several funding grants to build the program and purchase equipment and provide training. Integrating UAS in transportation has been the subject of research and field studies to demonstrate the use case for high-mast light pole inspections, traffic incident management and monitoring, dredging and beach replenishment, photogrammetry, bridge inspection, and watershed management, among other topics. UAS has been shown to improve safety, save time and money and increase efficiency. UAS is considered to be institutionalized within NJDOT.

An example Risk Management Worksheet is one of several forms described in the Procedures Manual.

An example Risk Management Worksheet is one of several forms described in the Procedures Manual.

The procedures manual provides comprehensive guidance for UAS missions from planning to debriefing. The manual presents NJ’s laws and regulations affecting UAS operations, discusses NJDOT’s safety management system and risk management approach, established best practices, the agency’s three-phase training program, and incident reporting. The manual also provides NJDOT’s UAS forms needed for documentation and to ensure compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. The manual is intended to be a “living document” to incorporate changes as experience grows with UAS within the agency.

A procedures manual is one way to counter the loss of expertise and institutional knowledge when employees retire or transfer. A manual can build and sustain knowledge within the agency to ensure continuity of operations.

The UASFOM can be found in the Knowledge Management Toolbox. The Final Report and Technical Brief for the Research can be accessed here.

TAMS: New Management System Streamlines Multiple Databases

In August 2021, AASHTO recognized NJDOT's Transportation Asset Management System (TAMS) as a regional winner in the 2021 America's Transportation Awards Competitions in the "Best Use of Technology and Innovation" category. The article below, which first appeared in Transporter (Vol. 52, No. 3), an NJDOT employee newsletter, was entitled New Management System Streamlines Multiple Databases, One Man's Vision Becomes a Transformational Information Hub. The article was penned by the NJDOT Commissioner, Diane Gutierrez-Scacetti in recognition of the value of the innovation for NJDOT's operations.

Inspiration can come at any moment and in any place – even when ordering a sandwich at a local Wawa. Yes, that was when it struck Andrew Tunnard, Assistant Commissioner, Transportation Operations, Systems & Support (TOS&S), on how to revolutionize information sharing at NJDOT. While ordering lunch at the kiosk with Urvi Dave, formerly TOS&S Administrative Analyst 4, he shared his vision of creating a platform that would aggregate data from various units, and provide a menu of assets, much like the system that they were using to order lunch.

A drawn image of a road with an intersection, and bridges, with various parts, such as drainage inlet and traffic signal, showing the conceptual framework for what would become NJDOT's TAMS information management system

Andrew Tunnard, Assistant Commissioner, TOS&S, the visionary behind the TAMS system, shared his original concept graphic and stated, “This is a hand drawn depiction of the original concept of TAMS. It was meant to show the disparate asset management systems and how we had the potential to merge them into one system. The new system gives users visibility into work performed on all assets.”

This system would bridge all units, allowing data to be transparent, drive informed decision-making, and create pathways to efficiency. The system would provide complex datasets that are required for budgeting and cost analysis, helping to reduce costs and increase productivity. In short, the system would change the entire manner in which staff accessed and shared information. Urvi embraced the vision of a better solution and began brainstorming.

In October 2020, after years of planning and hundreds of work hours, NJDOT released the first iteration of the Transportation Asset Management System (TAMS). After a year of operation, TAMS is becoming the asset management hub that will transform the way we share Department information for years to come. The new system replaces the inefficient legacy Maintenance Management System (MMS) and numerous other software applications used by various units that made data sharing cumbersome and fact-finding a challenge.

What Is TAMS

TAMS is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that integrates all of the TOS&S maintenance assets into a single platform. TAMS provides field and office staff with a system that includes a menu of services, equipment, materials, locations and more that are used in their daily activities. It is accessible from any location, at any time, for data input, reporting and analyzing. Assets include labor, equipment, material, projects, budgets, all state owned and maintained roadways, electrical assets, bridges, and traffic signals, etc. More than 500,000 assets in approximately 64 categories are available in the TAMS menu.

Staff can input real-time data of all work activities from the field or office, including labor, materials, and equipment used for every maintenance project, with a date and time stamp of work begun and completed. This information goes into the Geographical Information System (GIS) with assets displayed on a map. When the user opens the asset on the map, it displays a before and after picture of the maintenance or project work completed, along with all of the other pertinent project information, providing a complete history from construction/installation to end of life in real- time.

Senior Management will now have easy access to all assets through the TAMS smart dashboard for reporting, planning, budgeting, and risk assessment. TAMS creates a synergy between staff of varying responsibilities by making data accessible to everyone in a manner that has never before existed in the Department. Using machine learning, the system will accumulate data enabling predictive asset maintenance and replacement scheduling. It will also allow repetitive problem locations to be identified, tracked, and addressed. Managing labor and allocating for overtime also will now be based on real-time data analysis. In addition, it will facilitate faster and more accurate report generation for Federal funding reimbursement.

TAMS Today

An Emergency Call Records form (EL-15) often mobilizes TOS&S staff when maintenance is required. The TAMS platform integrates the EL-15 form allowing for the tracking of all activities including labor and equipment costs, weather and special events, while providing GIS location and images.

TAMS by the Numbers Since Launch:

  • Activity Reports: Nearly 90,560 daily activity reports have been entered into the platform
  • Potential Claims: Nearly 4,050 activity reports have been identified by field crews as potential claims for reimbursement with the newly added early detection TOS&S functionality.
  • Major Events: Nearly 44 major weather events have been recorded.
  • Emergency Call Records (EL-15 records): More than 30,295 EL-15 reports have been documented.
  • Public Problem Reports: 4,219 Public Problem Reports (PPR) have been submitted and administered by the Central Dispatch Unit and acted on by field crews. This is a 14% increase in public reporting from the prior system. PPR replaced the public Pothole Hotline webpage.

The Future of TAMS

TAMS is scalable to other units and will provide all designated staff with platform access, allowing cross-unit data input and retrieval. The cross-unit platform will create an easy, efficient and transparent tool that will make the entire Department more efficient and productive.

Stronger, More Resilient Bridges: Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair is a model innovation in the latest round of the 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 correspondence with Pranav Lathia, an NJDOT Supervising Engineer, Structural & RR Engineering Services, to learn more about current initiatives to test and deploy UHPC on the Garden State’s bridges. The Q&A correspondence has been edited for clarity.

 

Q. What is Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), and why is it particularly useful for bridge preservation and repair (P&R)?

Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) is a new class of concrete which contains extraordinary properties of durability and strength. UHPC is a cement based composite material, which consists of steel fiber reinforcement, cement, fine sand, and other admixtures. UHPC is a useful alternative for bridge repairs and preservation due to its long-term durability, which will minimize repairs to a specific structure over time.

Q. Why, in some cases, is UHPC a better application than traditional treatments?

Due to its chemical properties UHPC has a compressive strength of seven times that of regular concrete. Therefore, UHPC is mostly used for thin overlays, closure pours, link slabs, beam end repairs and joint headers.

Q. What are some advantages of UHPC?

UHPC overlays appear to have many ideal properties for desk surface, including superior bond strength, compressive strength, lower permeability, greater freeze-thaw damage resistance, good abrasion resistance, and rapid cure times, among others.

Q. What are some disadvantages to UHPC?

There are some disadvantages to UHPC.  UHPC has higher material costs which has to be a factor in the Department's decision process. A life-cycle cost analysis is appropriate for making a determination of whether it is a cost-effective alternative for the Department.  Fresh UHPC does not bond well to hardened UHPC, therefore careful consideration for joint construction is needed, including reinforced staging joints. There is also limited test data for construction materials to determine their ability to perform well with UHPC. In addition, the NJ construction workforce is not very familiar with the use of UHPC as an overlay.

Image of a red rectangular device that works to smooth the UHPC,

Figure 1: It is imperative that contractors establish the proper amount of UHPC fluidity to maintain the bridge deck’s grade. Courtesy of NJDOT.

Q. When is UHPC perhaps not an appropriate solution?

UHPC would not be an appropriate solution for a full deck replacement, superstructure replacement, or total replacement.

Q. What are some examples of UHPC’s previous implementations?

Before our initiation of a pilot program, UHPC had only been used for ABC (closure pours) and pre-cast connections in New Jersey since 2014.

 Q. How is NJDOT approaching the potential implementation of UHPC for bridge preservation and replacement (P&R)?

Currently NJDOT uses UHPC ABC (closure pours) for prefabricated superstructures. NJDOT has launched and implemented a UHPC Overlay Research Project in conjunction with the design engineering firm, WSP Solutions.

Q. Can you describe the how UHPC is applied in the pilot project for P&R?

In the pilot project, a 1.5” UHPC overlay has been applied to four NJDOT structures. The UHPC overlay was constructed on the bridge deck along with the reconstruction of deteriorated deck joints.

Q. What bridges were selected, and what was the rationale for their selection?

Four structures were chosen for the UHPC overlay pilot program and split into two separate contracts, Contract A (North) and Contract B (South):

  • I-295 NB & US 130 NB over Mantua Creek in West Deptford, Gloucester County
  • NJ 57 over Hances Brook in Mansfield, Warren County
  • I-280 WB over Newark Turnpike in Kearny, Hudson County
  • NJ 159 WB over Passaic River in Montville, Morris County

The selected bridges for the pilot program were in good condition to leverage the perceived long life-span of UHPC and not allow other factors to limit the potential service life. Eight candidate structures were fully evaluated and tested before the four structures were advanced. The bridges that were ultimately selected varied in their age, size and design. All the bridges had asphalt overlay.

Q. What were the evaluation criteria used for the selection of the pilots?

All structures included in the program were evaluated for suitability based on the structural evaluations, chloride content within the deck, feasible construction stages, traffic analysis results, and existing overlay depths. Chloride content was obtained from the concrete cores we had completed on each bridge deck.

Q. What best practices were learned from the pilot projects?

It was best to install the UHPC overlays in locations that UHPC would serve as the final riding surface. The Department felt that an UHPC overlay should be constructed on structures which had an existing asphalt overlay. A thinner overlay could have been provided to cut material costs. Using a pan mixer, the supplier had the ability to control the fluidity of the UHPC, which is extremely important when dealing with extreme temperatures and high deflection/ movement structures. A flow test should continue to be required to verify the proper mixing and consistency of the UHPC overlay material.

Q. Were there any innovations from the implementation of the pilot projects?

A deeper overlay could be considered as a viable alternative for structures that need major deck rehabilitation or replacement.

A bridge with a plastic cover at night, waiting for the UHPC to cure

Figure 2. An NJDOT UHPC treatment in the process of curing. Courtesy of NJDOT.

Q. How is data from the pilots being used to research further UHPC applications?

The data from the pilot program will be used to further the Department’s investigation in UHPC for applications other than just bridge deck overlays.

Q.  What can be done to prepare industry and the workforce for UHPC as an overlay?

The implementation of UHPC affects the current workforce because it is a new material to be used in New Jersey. The current workforce does not have enough experience with UHPC’s properties which could make a repair more challenging.  UHPC has only been used for closure pours in New Jersey. This knowledge gap could be solved by supplying the workforce with workshops, seminars, and suggested construction sequences, practices and equipment. A test slab should also be constructed to verify the proposed material and the contractor’s procedures.

Q. Are there needed actions to better educate NJDOT staff on its efficacy and potential uses?

Yes, training and peer exchange activities are valuable for further educating NJDOT staff on UHPC. Recently, we participated in a a two-day UHPC workshop (October 2021) with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The workshop provided participants with a greater understanding of what UHPC is, and explored solutions for using UHPC for bridge deck overlays, link slabs, and steel girder end repairs. Participants were given information on where to obtain guidance for implementing different types of UHPC preservation and repair strategies. The workshop also provided participants with the opportunity to discuss their UHPC implementation strategy, construction specifications, and design details with FHWA EDC-6 UHPC team members.

Image of a bridge with a new white smooth UHPC application on top.

Figure 3. The final product, a UHPC overlay before asphalt paving. Courtesy of NJDOT.

Q. What does the future of UHPC look like in New Jersey?

The future of UHPC in New Jersey could consist of UHPC connection repairs, seismic retrofits, column repairs, concrete patching, shotcrete, steel girder strengthening, bridge deck overlays, and link slabs.

Q. In the current EDC-6 Round, the NJ STIC states that it is planning on performing an assessment of the UHPC pilot projects. When they are complete, how will they be assessed? Could you tell us more about the long-term testing program being developed to gather performance data in the assessment phase?

These are still works in progress. A long-term monitoring and testing program is being developed to gather performance data in the assessment phase. The scope of our current efforts includes further investigation and research, collection and evaluation of performance data, updating the standard specifications and conducting a life cycle cost analysis.

Q. Can you describe the objective(s) and/or provide any other status information about the long-term program goals?

A long-term goal for the department is to incorporate UHPC into our design manual, including for P&R.Eventually we could see UHPC incorporated with bridge deck overlays and concrete bridge repairs. There is currently no timeline on incorporating UHPC into the design manual. We anticipate revising the standard specifications, but there are no updates regarding the revision of the standard specifications for UHPC.


Resources

Federal Highway Administration. (2019, February). Design and Construction of Field-Cast UHPC Connections. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/structures/bridge/uhpc/19011/index.cfm

Federal Highway Administration. (2020, November). Eliminating Bridge Joints with Link Slabs—An Overview of State Practices. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/preservation/docs/hif20062.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, April). Example Construction Checklist: UHPC Connections for Prefabricated Bridge Elements. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/abc/docs/uhpc-construction-checklist.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, March). Properties and Behavior of UHPC-Class Materials. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/structures/bridge/18036/18036.pdf

Federal Highway Administration. (2018, February) Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Deck Overlays. Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/bridge/17097/index.cfm

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

New Mexico Department of Transportation. (2010). Feasibility Analysis of Ultra High Performance Concrete for Prestressed Concrete Bridge Applications. New Mexico Department of Transportation. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/24640

New York State Department of Transportation. (2021, June). Item 557. 6601NN16 – Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC). New York State Department of Transportation. https://www.dot.ny.gov/spec-repository-us/557.66010116.pdf

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

NextGen Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Webinar Series

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) EDC-6 NextGen Traffic Incident Management (TIM) initiative promotes safety, reliability, and the most efficient use of responder resources and supports and expands local agency capacities. To this end, FHWA's Talking TIM webinar series provides best practices, new technological innovations, and successful implementations. The FHWA-sponsored webinars are hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE).

  • 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: Using the Traffic Incident Management Benefit/Cost (TIM-BC) Tool

General information on this EDC-6 initiative may be found here.

FHWA contacts for NextGen TIM are Paul Jodoin (Paul.Jodoin@dot.gov), and James Austrich (James.Austrich@dot.gov).