NJDOT Tech Talk! Webinar – Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition

Please join us for an NJDOT Research Showcase Lunchtime Edition!

This Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar features three research studies that we could not share at the 22nd Annual Research Showcase held last October.

  • Quantifying Impacts of Disruptive Precipitation to Surface Transportation: A Data-Driven Mitigation Approach, by Raif Bucar, PhD candidate, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Lighting, Visual Guidance and Age: Importance to Safety in Roadway Work Zones, by John D. Bullough, PhD, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Analysis of Overweight Truck Permit Policy in New Jersey, by Hani Nassif, PhD, Rutgers University

The Research Showcase is an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway and share technology transfer activities being conducted by institutions of higher education partners and their associates. The annual event serves as a showcase to present the ongoing initiatives and benefts of the NJDOT Research program. 

The event is free, but registration is required to receive the URL link to the webinar.  NJ AICP and PE credits are available, but you must be registered for the event. Click through the link below to register for this webinar event:

Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition
Date:  Thursday, April 22nd
Time: 12:00 – 1:30 PM

Research to Implementation: Environmental Impacts of Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement

This Research to Implementation video presents an example of NJDOT-sponsored research and the effect such research has in addressing transportation-related issues within the State.

Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) is material gathered through the milling and removal of existing pavement surfaces. In New Jersey, reuse of this material is restricted to inclusion in new asphalt pavements. NJDOT's Bureau of Research supported a study that explored the environmental impacts associated with reuse of RAP in unbound applications.

The video summarizes the research and the resulting recommendations that have influenced legislation and helped frame discussions among various stakeholders concerning the beneficial uses of RAP.

Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: Analysis of Local Bus Markets

On October 7, 2020, NJDOT hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! Webinar on the Analysis of Local Bus Markets with Deva Deka, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Research, at Rutgers – Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, and Susan O’Donnell, Senior Director, Business Analysis and Market Research at NJ TRANSIT. Dr. Deka began the presentation with a general description of the NJ TRANSIT system that operates approximately 250 bus routes throughout New Jersey. Bus riders constitute almost 60 percent of all riders using NJ TRANSIT services, including commuter rail and light rail. For many New Jersey residents, those buses are essential for meeting almost all daily travel needs.

Dr. Deka provided a profile of the demographics of bus users, including household income, race, and vehicle ownership

Dr. Deka provided a profile of the demographics of bus users, including household income, race, and vehicle ownership.

For the past five years, the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center of Rutgers University has been conducting onboard surveys of bus riders in different parts of New Jersey for projects funded by the NJDOT Bureau of Research and sponsored by NJ TRANSIT. Dr. Deka, the Principal Investigator for these survey studies, presented the bus survey methodology, and key findings. He described the questionnaire design, survey scheduling, training of surveyors, and the process of data collection, and the post-survey process that has involved data cleaning and weighting, and analysis. Over the five years, the project has generated clean data for over 15,000 riders.

Dr. Deka gave an overview profile of bus rider characteristics and trip characteristics found from the survey research. The survey showed that riders are predominantly Hispanic and/or African-American, lower-income, from households with no car or one car, and dependent on the bus system. The data support the essentiality of bus services for zero-car households and inform analyses of the broader impacts of bus services such as decreases in traffic delays and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

In the second half of the presentation, Ms. O’Donnell described the use of the survey data by NJ TRANSIT for planning purposes. The data supports travel demand modeling which replicates existing conditions and predicts future conditions to inform roadway projects and transit projects. This information is shared with New Jersey’s three Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. Current data is required in transit grant applications, and contributes to studies related to access to transit, corridors, intermodal systems, and transit oriented development.

To fulfill the agency’s obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, NJ TRANSIT uses the data to perform an equity analysis to evaluate the effect of fare changes or service changes on low-income populations and minority populations, and to provide data to help in developing a language assistance plan for Limited English Proficiency populations.

In addition, NJ TRANSIT uses the data when working with advertisers that want to target their message efficiently to specific demographic groups.

The agency’s Newark Bus System Redesign Project will use the data collected in fall 2019 to align and modify bus routes and explore service to new areas. This is the first, and largest, of multiple systems to be evaluated to bring the agency’s entire bus system up to date.

In closing, Ms. O’Donnell presented an update on bus use during the pandemic based on surveys given during April and June. The data shows how important the bus system has been to essential workers.

Following the presentation, the Dr. Deka and Ms. O’Donnell responded to questions asked through the chat feature:

Q. What was the number of questions asked on the survey and what incentives were offered?
A. The survey comprised about 30 questions. Incentives helped increase interest in the surveys and respondents had a chance of winning 1 of 5 $100 gift cards.

Q. Did you consider using IPads rather than paper-based intercept surveys?
A. Dr. Deka noted that they did consider them, but use of IPads limits the number of surveys that can be collected at one time. The surveyor has to stay with the individual using the IPad, and cannot approach other riders at the same time, limiting the efficiency of the survey-taker. Dr. Deka also referenced a Mineta Transportation Institute report that compared data quality and costs for different approaches to on-board transit passenger surveys that found efficiencies with the paper-intercept approach for bus users. Ms.O’Donnell noted that this technology might work at a station or on a platform because a number of surveyors can be located in the same place but is difficult to use on a crowded bus. During the pandemic, IPads probably could not be used due to safety concerns with touching and handling equipment.

Q. What are typical variables used to weight the data to the total ridership?
A. The sample is weighted by direction of the bus, time of day, and the run. A trip is from an origin to the destination and all trips combined is a run. They do not weight the sample by demographic variables or geography because they do not have solid information on the total transit user “universe” population related to these variables.

Q. Did you compare rider survey results by types of service area?
A. No. While there are some suburban routes if you segment or categorize by origins, such as Morristown, almost all routes are generally very urban. It would be possible to use the data to compare by counties.

Q. What is the delay imposed by traffic congestion on buses?
A. Traffic impacts have been an issue that has been looked at by traffic engineers at Rutgers – CAIT some years ago. They collected data traffic signal timings at intersections that the bus traveled through and applied VISSIM for simulations. Dr. Deka said that he could connect anyone interested with the detailed technical methods that the researchers used on that traffic impact study, if they’re interested.

The presentation given by Dr. Deka and Ms. O'Donnell can be downloaded here.

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

Share Your Ideas on the NJ Transportation Research Ideas Portal!

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

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

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

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

NEXT ROUND OF RESEARCH.  Please submit your research ideas no later than December 31, 2020 for the next round of research RFPs. The NJDOT Research Oversight Committee (ROC) will prioritize research ideas after this date, and high priority research needs will be posted for proposals.

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

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

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

Development of Real-Time Traffic Signal Performance Measurement System

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figure 3. System Operation Data Flow Diagram

Figure 3. System Operation Data Flow Diagram

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

Key Research and Implementation Activities

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

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Key research activities from the project are as follows:

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

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

Future Work

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

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

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

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

Relationship to Strategic Goals

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight: New Technology Evaluations

The New Technologies and Products (NTP) Unit in NJDOT’s Division of Bridge Engineering and Infrastructure Management reviews and evaluates new technologies and products submitted by manufacturers, vendors and suppliers. The unit is currently evaluating over 50 products for possible use at NJDOT to address needs related to safety, pavement, drainage, bridges and structures, among other categories.

NJDOT defines a new technology as “any product, process, or material used in the construction and maintenance of roadways and bridges that is not covered by existing NJDOT standard specifications or construction details, thereby requiring a formal evaluation for approval.” Products may receive a formal evaluation if they are finished and marketed, and address high priority needs.

The unit maintains the New Technologies and Products database of tested products from 2002 to the present. The database displays the category, the name of the product with a link to the product webpage, the company and the status of the evaluation. The NTP database status code legend is available on the NJDOT New Technology Evaluations webpage. Products may be actively undergoing testing, in a demonstration phase, or specification development phase, or in other stages of evaluation.

If, through the evaluation process, a technology or product is found acceptable for use on NJDOT projects, development and implementation of a standard specification, construction detail, or design guideline is still needed through a baseline document change.

Evaluation typically takes two to three years, although technical information and testing data from other testing agencies may expedite the process. Proposals for use of a new technology on a specific project, and recurrent use of an alternate or non-standard item on several projects, can lead to acceptance as a standard item.



Evaluating New Jersey’s Use of Raised Pavement Markers for Roadway Safety

In the United States, data has shown that more than a third of fatal crashes on two-lane undivided highways and 27 percent of fatal crashes on four-lane divided highways occur in dark, unlighted conditions. Raised Pavement Markers (RPMs) are a common device deployed for roadway safety around the world since the 1930s. RPMs are delineation devices used to improve preview distances and provide guidance for drivers in inclement weather and low-light conditions. There are two main types of RPMs, ones that can be used with snow plows and ones that cannot.

While most states install RPMs selectively based on particular locational characteristics of the roadways, New Jersey uses RPMs along all centerlines (solid and skip), regardless of traffic volume, roadway geometry, or roadway classification. The extensive use of RPMs in New Jersey has raised interest in understanding 1) whether this significant investment generates variant safety benefits at different locations; 2) whether there are alternatives or modifications to the existing RPMs; and 3) how to optimize the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of RPMs and their promising alternatives in order to attain a more cost-effective safety improvement.

The selected team from Rutgers University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute employed four distinct methods to address these research questions. The first was to conduct a literature review to inform the development of a methodological framework for quantifying the safety and cost-effectiveness of RPMs and their alternatives, based on specific road and traffic characteristics. Second, the researchers developed a luminance measurement method to compare the luminance of RPMs to different markers’ ability to inform drivers of road lines. Luminance measurement is defined as “the amount of visible light leaving a point on a surface in a given direction” (“Lighting Design Glossary”). Third, the group conducted a survey of other state DOTs practices and their guidelines for installation, including alternatives used. Lastly, the researchers developed a computer-aided decision support tool to calculate the life cycle costs of RPMs and their alternatives. Different alternatives were considered throughout the study, including various forms of rumble strips, preformed tape, and delineators.

The researchers came to several findings that provided insight into NJDOT’s current use and potential future research opportunities. The literature review of previous studies was inconclusive, with no consensus on whether RPMs affect the crash rate on roadways, with past research showing both negative and positive safety changes post-installation.

RPM samples used for measurements in the luminance tests. Photo Source: Xiang et al.

The survey of state DOTs yielded 22 responses from states throughout all regions of the country. The survey had two main sections, “RPM Installation” and “RPM Inspection and Maintenance”. No consensus or clear pattern was found among the states in terms of practices for installation, inspection, maintenance, and alternatives used. However, the researchers found that other state DOTs were more selective than New Jersey in choosing RPM installation sites based on traffic volume, accident history, and weather conditions.

To quantify the contribution that RPMs make towards safety outcomes on New Jersey roads, researchers compared the safety performance of county roads since unlike state roads, some county roads do not have RPMs installed. The researchers found that county roads with RPMs had a 19 percent lower crash rate than county roads without RPMs. The most significant decreases in crash rates occurred in nighttime, wet weather conditions, providing insight into the conditions that RPMs may be most effective.

In the lab luminance study, the team tested samples of new and used RPMs, along with alternatives such as wet pavement reflective tape and channel-mounted delineators to determine how far away drivers could see the markers in nighttime conditions. The average lifecycle for RPMs is 6 years, with a maintenance cycle of 2-3 years. Used RPMs showed a 20-30 percent decrease in luminance than new RPMs, but that did not translate to decreased visual performance.

Finally, the team created a computer-aided decision support tool to evaluate and compare the life cycle cost of RPMs and alternatives, based on specific operational characteristics. Decision-makers can couple information on safety benefits for each device with the total cost for per unit crash reduction from the tool to compare the value of the investment. The tool accounts for installation cost, traffic control cost, traffic delay cost, inspection cost, maintenance and repair cost, as well as the liability cost associated with incidents due to damaged RPMs or alternatives.

The research team also suggested several areas for future study for advancing NJDOT’s understanding of RPMs and their alternatives. The researchers recommended a study of optimal spacing or degree of continuous delineation that drivers need for safety. In the luminance study, all the devices had high visual performance despite variance in luminance when tested at a 100-meter viewing distance. However, the researchers noted, additional study was needed to see how the differences in luminance could affect visual performance at the threshold visibility distance (when the devices can be first seen). The results could help identify which device gives drivers more time and distance, resulting in potential reduction in nighttime crashes.

Rumble Strips. Photo Source: FHWA.

Lastly, one of the alternatives frequently mentioned throughout the study is rumble strips, which are used on roadways to create a noise and vibration to alert a driver when they leave their lane. When painted with retroflective coating to increase visibility, they are called rumble stripes (FHWA 2019). The researchers explained that rumble strips have not been studied in regard to safety effectiveness in New Jersey due to data limitations, making it a potential future research area.

New Jersey is in a unique position compared to other states with its comprehensive use of RPMs on state roadways. The researchers were able to provide valuable information to NJDOT, including a methodological framework for the department moving forward to quantify the safety effectiveness of RPMs and their alternatives and a computer-aided decision support tool to estimate life cycle cost. With this information and targeted areas for future research, NJDOT can aim to make cost-effective investments that will improve roadway safety.


FHWA. “Rumble Strips and Rumble Stripes.” FHWA. April 1, 2019. https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/pavement/rumble_strips/general-information.cfm.

“Lighting Design Glossary.” Lighting Design and Simulation Knowledgebase. https://www.schorsch.com/en/kbase/glossary/luminance.html.

Liu, Xiang, John Bullough, Liwen Tian, Shan Jiang, and Mohsen Jafari. Evaluation of Raised Pavement Markers, Final Report. July 2018.

Liu, Xiang, John Bullough, Liwen Tian, Shan Jiang, and Mohsen Jafari. “Technical Brief: Evaluation of Raised Pavement Markers.” July 2018.


New Protocol for Accepting Over-Coating Paint on Steel

The Research Advisory Committee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) selected an NJDOT project as one of 16 high-value research projects for 2019 in the category of Smart Maintenance and Preservation. Researchers from Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, Perumalsamy Balaguru, Husam Najm, and David Caronia, developed a new testing method for the durability of paint overcoat on steel structures, such as bridges.

NJDOT received AASHTO’s Research “Sweet Sixteen” 2019 award for innovative research establishing a new protocol for durability testing of structural steel overcoats.

On behalf of the NJDOT Bureau of Research, Giri Venkiteela, Research Project Manager, delivered a poster presentation and Pragna Shah, Research Project Manager, accepted the AASHTO award at the 2019 National RAC and TRB State Representatives Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico in July 2019.

The new protocol allows for reduced testing time from previous methods, identifies durable coatings, simulates field performance, and has significant potential for adoption in accepting all new coatings. This new protocol will save money and reduce environmental pollution resulting from degraded coatings.  The innovative research for this new protocol is described in the Final Report and Technical Brief.

Local Access Management Regulations

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is responsible for administering an access management policy for the state highway system.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines access management as “the proactive management of vehicular access points to land parcels adjacent to all manner of roadways. Good access management promotes safe and efficient use of the transportation network.”

Figure 1: Conceptual Roadway Functional Hierarchy. Source: FHWA, 2017

Key components of an access management code include access spacing, driveway spacing, safe turning lanes, median treatments, and right-of-way management. While New Jersey’s access management code is highly regarded, it only applies to state highways and not local roads. Local authorities in New Jersey do not have uniform access management codes, regulations, or standards for local roads. This creates a gap in policy for how to address the issues that arise when new developments take place on local roads near intersections with state routes or when state highway improvements are required near intersections with local roads.

To address these issues, the NJDOT Bureau of Research solicited a research study of local access management regulations. The primary research objective was to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and guidelines to facilitate access management on local roads (i.e., county and municipal) intersecting and/or impacting state highways in New Jersey.

The selected research team sought to evaluate how other state DOTs address access management on local roads near state highways and explore how New Jersey local government and transportation agency officials perceive these access management issues between state and local jurisdictions

The research team carried out several tasks. First, they compiled a literature review of local access management drawing upon resources from state DOTs, the FHWA, the Transportation Research Board (TRB), local governments, among others (see Figures 1 and 2). Next, they organized and facilitated discussions with a stakeholder committee of professionals in New Jersey (e.g., municipal, county, and MPO engineers and planners) with experience addressing access management. The team conducted structured interviews with state DOTs from 13 different states, including California, Colorado, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  NJ local government officials were reached through an online survey to gather information on current practices, issues, and relevant case studies. The researchers conducted case study analyses of specific problematic issues at intersections of local roads and state highways in New Jersey. Four site locations were selected based on the availability of data, severity of issues, geographic and land use patterns, and the relative difficulty for access management implementation based on the current system.

The interviews with other state DOTs focused on several themes, including the basis and scope of authority given under current access management laws and regulations; issues related to the development of corner lots; proactive steps taken to avoid access management issues; and recommendations for developing and implementing access. From the interviews with the state DOT officials, the research team gleaned that there is substantial variation on access management approaches. Similar to New Jersey, other State DOTs are mostly focused on

Figure 2: Diagram of Intersection Corner Clearances. Source: TRB, Access Management Manual, 2014.

state highways, although many acknowledged facing local-road issues. The team uncovered some best practice strategies that could be pertinent to New Jersey, including the development of corridor agreements between local governments and state DOTs; training local government professionals on access management; establishing communication channels between local offices of state DOTs and local governments; and funding local governments to develop their own access management guidelines and standards.

Stakeholder meetings and surveys of local New Jersey officials revealed broad support for advancing local access management guidelines. Among those surveyed, 27 percent said the local agencies that they served had formal or informal access management guidelines and 60 percent said local access management standards similar to the state highway code would be beneficial. However, key barriers were also identified, including the cost and availability of training. Local officials generally were not in favor of extending NJDOT’s authority beyond the State Highway System to county and local roads, and preferred initiatives from NJDOT to local governments that involved dedicated funding, improved coordination or dialogue, or technical assistance.

Based on the literature review and survey feedback, the research team offered for consideration to NJDOT and local governments some criteria for intersections between state highways and local roads where no local access code or guidelines are available (see Table 1).

The research team also recommended that NJDOT:

  • Develop project-specific access management criteria for intersections between state and local roads in highway improvement projects, which will work to communicate early to local agencies and property owners if they may lose parking, road access, right-of-way, etc.
  • Provide assistance via funding and training to encourage local governments to develop their own access management guidelines consistent with state code yet with more flexibility to their local roads.
  • Provide incentives for local governments to establish and apply access management policies and guidelines (using a similar approach that has been used to encourage Complete Streets policy adoption and implementation training).
  • Adopt proactive measures such as corridor agreements with local governments at corridors with highway improvement projects in the next 5 or 10 years according to the state highway improvement plan of local MPOs and NJDOT and specify the spacing criteria for intersections between state and local roads on selected corridors.
  • Establish communication channels between divisional offices of NJDOT and local governments so that all parties are aware of projects early on.
  • Continue working with the stakeholder committee established for the research study to foster dialogue between NJDOT and local governments on access management

Table 1Criteria of Access Spacing and Corner Clearance based on Posted Speed Limit

Criteria Agency Posted Speed Limit (mph)
25 30 35 40 45 50 55
Minimum Access Spacing Peer State DOTs Minimum Access Separation (feet)
NJDOT(C) 105 125 150 185 230 275 330
Peer State DOTs 125-245 125-245 125-250 245-305 245-440 440-660 440-660
AASHTO Sight Distance















TRB-Manual** 330 330 330 330 660 660 880
NJ Local Agencies 150-300 200-350 250-425 300-475 350-525 400-600 400-600
Minimum Corner Clearance Minimum Distance from Corner (feet)
NJDOT(C) 50 50 100 100 100 100 100
Peer DOTs Same as Access Spacing
NJ Survey

Same as Access Spacing

Notes: (C) stands for Code/Regulations/Ordinance; (G) Stands for Guidelines/Manual/Standards; * for right-turn-only access points with median blockage; ** TRB Access Management Manual.

The research team also suggested some future work items to further advance implementation. Notably, the development of semi-automated screening tools and GIS overlays could assist in the identification of problematic locations based on state or local intersection spacing criteria. This could help expedite the design process and facilitate proactive communications and problem solving between NJDOT and local governments. Additionally, NJDOT could establish a co-training program for their related departments and local agencies to deliver needed training on general knowledge, prevailing standards and design concepts, institutional procedures, and real-world practice on past state and local access management projects. Based on this report, there is clear evidence of strong support across local and state officials as NJDOT looks to implement these recommendations and further study how to improve current practices.

FHWA. “What Is Access Management?” February 15, 2017. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/access_mgmt/what_is_accsmgmt.htm

Jin, Peter J., Devajyoti Deka, and Mohammad Jalayer. “Local Access Management Regulations – Technical Brief.” 2019. FHWA-NJ-2018-003 TB

Jin, Peter J., Devajyoti Deka, and Mohammad Jalayer. “Local Access Management Regulations – Final Report.” 2019. FHWA-NJ-2018-003

Williams, Kristine M., Vergil G. Stover, Karen K. Dixon, and Philip Demosthenes. Access management manual. 2014. https://trid.trb.org/view/1341995