The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Bureau of Research invites you to share your research and innovation ideas on the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal.
We seek to fund RESEARCH IDEAS that lead to implementation – to the testing and adoption of new materials and technologies, to better specifications and to greater efficiency. We strive to discover and advance feasible solutions for more durable infrastructure, greater environmental protection and resilience, and improved mobility and safety for residents, workers and visitors.
We encourage you to suggest INNOVATION IDEAS. We seek to find strategies to advance deployment of innovations and knowledge transfer in transportation. We work with the New Jersey State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) whose mission is to identify, evaluate, and where possible, rapidly deploy new technologies and process improvements that will accelerate project delivery and improve the quality of NJ’s transportation network. Innovation Ideas will be vetted for next steps which might include research or supporting an initiative to deploy a new technology or process improvement to accelerate innovation.
WHO CAN SUBMIT IDEAS? NJDOT’s research customers and other interested transportation practitioners are encouraged to submit a research or innovation idea. The portal should be of interest to NJDOT, MPOs, county and local governments, and other transportation subject matter experts from university, industry and trade organizations and other NGOs. The portal is also open to the public.
WHO ARE RESEARCH CUSTOMERS? Subject matter experts from NJDOT, NJ TRANSIT, or the NJ Motor Vehicles Commission are often our research customers. Research ideas typically must have a champion among our research customers. Ideally, a “champion” is a responsible individual within a division, bureau or unit who is prepared to sponsor or advance a research idea from its inception to study completion.
COLLECTING IDEAS NOW! Our research and innovation teams review submitted ideas for possible funding and other actions throughout the year. The last day to submit research ideas for the next round of funded transportation research is December 31, 2023.
REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE AND SUBMIT AN IDEA. Once you are registered, you may submit ideas at any time. If you registered previously, you should not need to register again. Click on the “+”button at the top of the page to register. Only registered participants may submit a new idea or vote on other ideas to show your support. Register at the NJ Transportation Ideas here: https://njdottechtransfer.ideascale.com/
On April 26, 2023, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar, “Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition!”. The event featured three important research studies that NJDOT was not able to include in the NJDOT Research Showcase virtual event held last October. The Showcase serves as an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway in New Jersey.
The three research studies explored issues at the intersection of transportation and the environment and the advancement of sustainable transportation infrastructure. The presenters, in turn, shared their research on the design and performance evaluation results of harvesting energy through transportation infrastructure; the properties of various materials used in roadway design treatments to effectively quantify and mitigate stormwater impacts of roadway projects; and analytical considerations inherent in estimating road surface temperatures to inform the development of a winter weather road management tool for NJDOT. After each presentation, webinar participants had an opportunity to pose questions of the presenter.
Presentation #1 – New Design and Performance Evaluation of Energy Harvesting from Bridge Vibration by Hao Wang, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT)
Dr. Wang noted that energy harvesting converts waste energy into usable energy that is clean and renewable for various transportation applications. Energy harvesting projects can be large scale (solar or wind energy solutions) or micro-scale (providing power for lighting, self-powered sensor devices, and wireless data transfer).
In this project, the large scale application considered the use of photovoltaic noise barriers (PVNBs) which integrate solar panels with noise barriers to harvest solar energy. His research developed energy estimation models at the project- and state-level for a prototypical design installation of noise barriers.
In his presentation, Dr. Wang focused on the micro-scale application that employed piezoelectric sensors on bridge structures. He noted that piezoelectric energy harvesting can be achieved by compression or vibration. He explained that traffic and winds cause roadway bridges to vibrate. This movement subjects the piezoelectric sensors to mechanical stresses or changes in geometric dimensions which create an electric charge.
Piezoelectric energy harvesting is affected by the material, geometry design of the transducer, and external loading. Instead of embedding sensors in pavements, the researchers sought to attach the sensors to the bridge structure imposing less impact on the host structure and increasing the ease of installation. They developed and evaluated new designs of piezoelectric cantilevers to create a range of resonant frequency to match with bridge vibration modes.
Multiple degree-of-freedom (DOF) cantilever designs were tested in the laboratory, and in full-scale tests. The goal was to customize the design to maximize power outputs resulting from bridge vibrations. Multiple cantilever design options were examined with adjustable masses. Simulation models were developed for estimating energy harvesting performance and to facilitate the optimization of mass combinations through quantitative models.
The researchers used finite element models to simulate the effect, and assessed the model in the laboratory to manage the voltage output of various designs. Bridges have multiple vibration frequencies under different vibration modes, on the bridge structure and the span. A full-scale bridge test was conducted using the Rutgers-CAIT Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing lab (BEAST) to give sample voltage outputs from cantilevers.
Future research will be needed to explore the effect of loading speed that takes into consideration the variable speeds on a bridge something that was not captured in the laboratory testing.
Findings of the research included: multiple degree of freedom (DOF) cantilevers can generate considerable energy when resonant frequencies match vibrational frequencies of the bridge structure; finite element modeling can predict resonant frequencies of multiple-DOF cantilevers as validated by experiments and ensures that numerical models can be used to explain the relationship between resonant frequency and mass combination for optimized design; and the proposed cantilever designs and optimization approach can be used for piezoelectric energy harvesting considering a variety of vibration features from bridges under different external conditions.
Dr. Wang responded to questions following his presentation:
Q. How far below the asphalt are the sensors placed and how often do they need to be replaced? A. For this project, the installation in this phase used a magnetic fixture to attach the cantilever to the girder. The installation procedure was easy for this phase. For a field installation, we will need to consider more thoroughly the mount and durability but did not need to address this during this phase and we do not have real-world data now to share about that.
Q. Would the vibrations be amplified with the cables? A. The cables on the real bridge – if we attached to the cable the vibrations would be less, which is why we attached them to the girder.
Presentation #2 – Impacts of Vegetation, Porous Hot Mix Asphalt, Gravel and Bare Soil Treatments on Stormwater Runoff from Roadway Projects by Qizhong (George) Guo, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Dr. Guo described the effect of increased impervious coverage in urban locations that leads to increased surface water runoff. Transportation agencies are required to assess and mitigate the stormwater runoff impacts of roadway projects. The project explored the effect on runoff of use of gravel, vegetation, porous Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA), and bare soil. Areas where these materials would be used include the roadway right-of-way, medians, and beneath guiderails.
Variables explored in lab testing included subsoil hydraulic conductivity, rainfall intensity and rainfall duration. The researchers used the Curve Number (CN) method for estimating direct runoff from rainstorms. Lab testing involved a column of soil with little lateral flow and limited depth to the level representing the water table. To apply lab findings to field conditions, the regression equation of Curve Number versus the infiltration rate obtained from the laboratory measurements can be applied after replacing the laboratory-measured infiltration rate with the field-measured subsoil hydraulic conductivity or assigned hydrologic soil groups.
This research resulted in Curve Numbers for bare soil and vegetation similar to the established CNs for dirt (including right-of-way) and open space (lawns, fair condition). The estimated CNs for gravel were significantly smaller than the established CNs for gravel (including right-of-way). The research resulted in CNs for porous HMA but no comparison can be made as there is no established CN for this material. The project could help NJDOT in seeking approval of the Curve Numbers for gravel and porous HMA from regulatory agencies. In addition, the study affirmed the use of pervious surfaces and the effectiveness of stormwater runoff reduction to restore natural hydrology.
Following the presentation, Dr. Guo responded to questions asked through the chat feature:
Q. What are preventative measures to avoid porous HMA clogging? A. Sediment source control is needed to prevent dirt and dust from entering the porous HMA. If the area around the pavement is subject to erosion, runoff carries this dirt or sand into the material. If the material becomes clogged, a vacuum is needed to clean it.
Q. Can we disperse runoff in roadway drainage systems as opposed to collection? A. There are several ways to disperse runoff, such as by the use of rain gardens, a horizontal spreader, or use of a stone/gravel strip to spread the runoff.
Some questions were submitted in the Chat and, due to time constraints, were answered by Dr. Guo after the Tech Talk.
Q. We recently had a project meeting during concept development where we suggested porous asphalt for guide rail base. Another team mentioned they would prefer we not use PHMA due to it clogging over time and basically becoming HMA. What research has been done on PHMA effectiveness over time, and what can be done to remedy reduced flow (if it does occur)? A: The clogging of porous hot mix asphalt (PHMA) and other porous pavement varieties is undeniably a significant and pressing issue. Our study for NJDOT did not tackle the problem of clogging, but other researchers have conducted relevant investigations, and more targeted research is anticipated. The most effective method to reduce clogging is by preventing excessive coarse sediment from entering PHMA and other porous pavements. Special care should be taken to maintain the surrounding landscape in order to mitigate soil erosion, and not to apply sand to any of the road surfaces for snow abatement. Alternatively, sediment in the runoff can be captured or filtered using a swale or gravel strip before it enters the PHMA or other porous pavement areas. Implementing a proactive inspection and monitoring system for clogging is also essential.
In cases where PHMA or other porous pavements become clogged, a vacuum street sweeper or regenerative air sweeper can be employed to dislodge and remove the solid materials. However, traditional mechanical sweepers should be avoided, as they may cause the solids to break down or force particulates deeper into the porous spaces, exacerbating the clogging issue in porous pavements.
Q. Did you use the same course stone mix in the NJDOT specs for the course stone non-vegetative surface. I assume you are calling this gravel. A: Yes, the NJDOT construction specifications were adhered to in the design of the laboratory setup for all four land treatment types: gravel, porous hot mix asphalt, vegetation, and bare soil. These specifications can be found in the “Roadway Design Manual (2015)”, “Standard Construction Details (2016)”, and “Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Constructions (2019)”. Comprehensive details are provided in Table 13 in Appendix A of our Final Report for the research project (FHWA-NJ-2023-004).
Q. What compaction did you use for the porous HMA? We usually use only a small portable tamper machine in the field with about 2 passes. A. In our laboratory, a gyratory compactor was employed for the compaction of the porous HMA samples tested. Two relevant sentences in our Final Report for the research project (FHWA-NJ-2023-004) state: “For the porous asphalt land treatment, cylindrical porous Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) gyratory samples with a diameter of 6 in and a depth of 4 in were manufactured at Rutgers CAIT Asphalt Pavement Lab. The mix design utilized to manufacture the HMA met the requirements of the Open-graded Friction Course in the Updated Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction (2007).”
Q: Can this report be used to get acceptance of porous HMA by DEP? A: Yes, although further dialogue with NJDEP, NRCS, and other relevant agencies or organizations may be necessary for the ultimate acceptance.
Q: NJDOT Materials lab did a study of various ages of porous HMA in the field and found out that it did not clog over an 8 year period. It appeared to be self-cleaning. A: I appreciate the information you provided. The likelihood of porous HMA clogging is closely related to the volume and size of solids, sediment, or particulates entering it. A minimal amount of fine particulates is unlikely to cause serious or rapid clogging issues in porous HMA. To my knowledge, there is no “self-cleaning” mechanism inherent in porous HMA.
Q: What about the contamination in runoff water which will penetrate in subsoil? A: Contaminants in runoff water should not be allowed to infiltrate the subsoil. Highly contaminated runoff must not directly enter land treatments (LTs), green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs), or stormwater control measures (SCMs). Instead, these systems will treat mildly contaminated runoff as it passes through them. Consequently, the runoff water will achieve a relatively high level of purity before it infiltrates the subsoil.
Presentation #3 – Practical Considerations of Geospatial Interpolation of Road Surface Temperature for Winter Weather Road Management by Branislav Dimitrijevic, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Luis Rivera, Analyst Trainee, NJDOT Transportation Mobility, Transportation Operations Systems & Support
Mr. Rivera provided background on NJDOT’s Weather Savvy Road System that addresses the need for proactive winter road maintenance and the wide variation in road conditions throughout the state. There are only 48 stationary Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) stations across the state in areas that are deemed essential. They provide information on road conditions (wet or dry), and road temperature. The Weather Savvy Road System integrates stationary RWIS and mobile RWIS (MRWIS) to track road conditions in real time, provide data visualization to operators to inform decision-making, and assist in planning road management.
In 2017, NJDOT received a USDOT Accelerated Innovation Deployment grant for implementation of FHWA’s Every Day Counts Round 4 Weather Savvy Roads Integrating Mobile Observations (IMO) innovation. The agency deployed Internet of Things (IoT) and Connected Vehicle technology to improve road weather management. NJDOT installed sensors and dash cameras on 24 fleet vehicles to pick up air temperatures, road temperatures, surface condition, and road grip, and portable PC equipment to analyze and report this information to improve safety for the traveling public and inform decision-making. Road surface temperature is the most indicative measure of road condition.
Dr. Dimitrijevic discussed research undertaken to gather road surface temperatures using Kriging, a geospatial interpolation model. The goal was to discover a way to extrapolate the information collected from the sensors to provide estimated road surface temperatures across the entire road network within NJDOT’s jurisdiction.
The researchers collected data from RWIS/MRWIS and other data available, including land coverage, elevation, etc., that can affect road surface temperatures (RST). They sought to use a Kriging Interpolation and Machine Learning Model to give estimated RSTs over the network to inform planning and evaluation of winter road maintenance efforts. Variability in RST across the analysis region is a big factor. Researchers needed to find a function that fit the variability between the data points, and use that to estimate the parameter value at any particular point.
Dr. Dimitrijevic discussed the differences between three Kriging methods: Ordinary Kriging and Universal Kriging, the simplest and fastest to calculate; regression Kriging which uses additional factors, besides distance, that will affect RST; and Empirical Bayesian Kriging that uses Bayesian inference to calculate parameters, but also calculates the probability of making an error.
All three Kriging methods assume that for any correlation between a given parameter that you are trying to estimate in a given area, there is a relationship between the values of that parameter at different points that depends on the actual location of the points, or distance between points. The method uses the known value of surrounding parameter points, for example, the road surface temperature at these points, and measures the distance between these points of known parameter value to estimate the parameter (RST) at the unknown point. Kriging assumes a statistical relationship involving the distance between RWIS stations.
Researchers conducted case studies using RST interpolation of stationary RWIS data by driving between RWIS locations, and then expanded the RWIS coverage of mobile sensors during a winter storm event. They found the best results came from combining RWIS and mobile RWIS data. They found Regression Kriging to be helpful for including other factors (the most statistically significant being vegetation type, land cover type, distance to water, and elevation). Increasing the mobile RWIS records reduced the error level, and this finding resulted in a recommendation to increase the number of mobile sensors on NJDOT’s fleet.
Kriging was effective in capturing the spatial variation in the dataset. An error of one degree Fahrenheit still needs to be addressed. The researchers continue to look into solutions in ongoing research which will explore additional interpolation methods, integration of short-term past predictions, and a bi-level interpolation using stationary RWIS data at a regional scale and the mobile RWIS data to make adjustments to the local scale.
The model that performed best was implemented in a web-based map tool that gathers data in real time and refreshes the estimated road surface temperature every 10-15 minutes, providing a map and the ability to download data. When complete, this tool will become part of the toolbox for Operations, Maintenance and Mobility division.
Dr. Dimitrijevic answered questions following his presentation:
Q. How is the dew point and frost point measured by the sensor? A. Dew point is not measured; there are statistical models that calculate readings of air temperature, air humidity and pressure to determine dew point or frost point. Dew point and frost point are the same thing. The term used depends on the temperature.
Q. What other interpolation models, besides Kriging, will you be looking at? A. We are looking at a combination of machine learning and geo-statistical modeling. There is also bi-level modeling that uses one method to regress the regional scale estimate, and another to use the localized readings to adjust the estimates for a local roadway. These methods require more computation time, but we are looking for models that can calculate in real time for tactical management purposes.
A recently completed research study on NJ TRANSIT grade crossing safety focuses on identifying locations for rail grade crossing elimination. Researchers from Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), Asim Zaman, P.E., Xiang Liu, Ph.D., and Mohamed Jalayer, Ph.D., from Rowan University, developed a methodology using 20 criteria to narrow a list of 100 grade crossings to ensure appropriate identification for closure. The process helps NJ TRANSIT and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to direct limited funds to areas of greatest need to benefit the public.
Across the country, 34 percent of railroad incidents over the past ten years have occurred at grade crossings. The elimination of grade crossings can improve public safety, decrease financial burdens, and improve rail service to the public.
According to the proposed methodology, the 20 crossings recommended for closure located in Monmouth County (60%), Bergen County (25%), and Essex County (25%).
The researchers ranked grade crossings in New Jersey using the following data fields: crash history, average annual daily traffic, roadway speed, roadway lanes, length of the crossing’s street, weekday train traffic, train speed category, number of tracks, access to train platforms, intersection angle, distance to alternate crossings, distance to emergency and municipal buildings, whether emergency and municipal buildings are on the same street, and date of last or future planned signal and surface upgrades. This process resulted in a final list of 20 grade crossings eligible for elimination.
To understand how this study will be used, we conducted an interview with NJTRANSIT personnel Susan O’Donnell, Director, Business Analysis & Research, Ed Joscelyn, Chief Engineer – Signals, and Joseph Haddad, Chief Engineer, Right of Way & Support.
Q. How will the report inform decision-making?
It is important to have solid research and strong evaluation criteria, such as developed by this study, on which to base decisions for grade crossing elimination. In addition to the study, we looked at what other state agencies and transit agencies have done with grade crossing elimination, as well as criteria recommendations from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Following up on this study, NJ TRANSIT and NJDOT are considering next steps that would be needed to close the 20 identified grade crossings. In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Transportation has plenary power over the closing of grade crossings.
Q. What other information will be needed to assess these locations?
Local concerns about grade crossing elimination tend to focus on traffic re-routing, including the possible impacts on neighborhoods, time needed to reach destinations, and emergency vehicle access to all parts of a community. The criteria established by the study addressed these areas of concern. Prior studies have determined that the road networks around the identified locations are adequate to accommodate re-routed traffic. The current research study took into account the findings from those prior studies. As each project moves forward, NJDOT will determine if additional information will be needed.
Q. Is elimination of any of these grade crossings part of NJ TRANSIT’s capital program?
All of the closings are part of the capital program. Funding for the grade crossing elimination comes from the federal government and NJ TRANSIT. NJ TRANSIT funding is in place to close the crossings.
Q. Are there benefits of the research study beyond identification of the 20 grade crossings?
The research study developed the criteria and process for identifying grade crossings for elimination. This framework can be used in the future to assess other grade crossings for possible elimination. NJ TRANSIT is grateful to NJDOT for funding this important research project to improve safety.
For more information on this research study, please see the resources section below.
The 24th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase provided 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 benefits of the NJDOT Research program. This event was an in-person event with a livestreaming option with sessions held from 9:00am-2:45pm on October 26, 2022.
This year's Showcase theme, "Advancing Equity in Transportation" served as the organizing framework for the keynote speaker and panelists during the morning plenary session. Throughout the day the Research Showcase featured presentations on infrastructure, safety, mobility and equity topics being performed by research faculty, staff, and students and NJ agencies. Several awards were presented in recognition of research and implemented innovations.
The Research Showcase Program Agenda provides more information on the day's proceedings, including presented topics and speakers. Recordings of the plenary and breakout sessions, and the presentations and posters shared during the event can be found below.
Mike Russo, NJDOT Assistant Commissioner, Planning, Multimodal, and Grants Administration, welcomed attendees to the Research Showcase event.
Parth Oza, Assistant Commissioner, Capital Program Management, provided opening remarks focusing on ways that NJDOT has embedded equity in the project delivery process. Mr. Oza emphasized the importance of gathering input from communities affected by transportation projects throughout all project phases, using grant applications to address the impact of flooding on disadvantaged communities, and planning for the safety of all road users through the agency’s Complete Streets policy.
Valeriya Remezova, Deputy Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration's New Jersey Division congratulated NJDOT for receiving the FHWA and AASHTO Innovative Initiative 2022 STIC Innovation Excellence Award. She recognized NJDOT research initiatives with an equity focus and noted New Jersey’s Metropolitan Planning Organization initiatives that advance equity.
Keith Benjamin, Associate Administrator for Highway Policy and External Affairs, Federal Highway Administration provided the keynote address. Mr. Benjamin discussed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the opportunities to use this funding to address equity in transportation planning, project development, and other activities. He noted that the funding allows for new ideas of transportation to become a reality, and looks forward to subsequent policy embedding these changes in people’s everyday transportation experience. He noted the program’s success will be measured by improvements such as people being able to cross the street safely, mitigation of unsafe corridors, availability of bus shelters, and repaving of dangerous streets. He offered several examples of local initiatives where collaboration among partner agencies and organizations and involvement of local residents in the process resulted in more equitable projects.
Mr. Benjamin responded to several questions in a Q&A session that followed his keynote remarks.
Plenary Session Recording
Morning Session Presentation
Keith Benjamin, FHWA Associate Administrator for Highway Policy and External Affairs with Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo. Photo by Steve Goodman.
Keith Benjamin and the host moderator, David Maruca, discussed the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill, the USDOT Equity Action Plan, and the safety benefits of Complete Streets, among other topics in a lively Q&A session that followed Mr. Benjamin’s Keynote remarks. Photo by Steve Goodman.
An interactive panel discussion, "Perspectives on Advancing Equity in Transportation," followed the keynote session with state, local and transportation management association (TMA) representatives who presented examples of the equity initiatives underway in their organization and reflected on some of the continuing challenges and opportunities for advancing equity in transportation in New Jersey. The panelists included:
Elkins Green, Director, Environmental Resources, New Jersey Department of Transportation. Green served as the Moderator for the session.
Veronica Murphy, Director’s Office, Division of Local Aid & Economic Development, New Jersey Department of Transportation. Ms. Murphy shared a short video of the organization of Local Aid & Economic Development and provided an overview of the role that her office plays in providing grant funding for transportation projects. Ms. Murphy noted that equity considerations are embedded in the distribution of funding and in the process of providing technical assistance to communities through the Local Aid Resource Center.
Krishna Murthy, President, EZ Ride described the mission and various activities of his TMA and focused on the organization’s EZ Ryde4Life program that assists older adults by coordinating with Lyft and Uber to provide rides. EZ Ride is trying to make the program more accessible to individuals who are paying directly for the program and have no sponsoring organization and described the affordability challenges for the users and operator.
Andrew Tunnard, Assistant Commissioner, Transportation Operations Systems & Support, New Jersey Department of Transportation. Mr. Tunnard spoke about the Trenton MOVES project, an autonomous vehicle system that is being planned to offer transit shuttle services for an urban core population in the City of Trenton that tends to have one or no cars and spends a high proportion of their income on transportation to reach regional employment and other opportunities.
Byron Nicholas, Supervising Transportation Planner, Hudson County Engineering described the County’s efforts to advance equity through project prioritization, public involvement, multimodal safety.
Participants responded to a series of questions posed by the moderator and by the audience members.
Panelists discussed equity initiatives underway in their organization and shared their views on the challenges and opportunities for advancing equity in transportation. Photo by Steve Goodman.
Perspectives on Advancing Equity in Transportation Panel Discussion Recording
The program continued as Amanda Gendek, Manager, NJDOT Bureau of Research, announced several awards given in recognition of research, innovation and implementation efforts. Below is a listing of the award winners presented at this year's showcase:
2022 Outstanding University Student in Transportation Research Award – Xiao Chen, Rutgers University (Innovative Pothole Repair Materials and Techniques)
2022 Research Implementation Award – Anil Agrawal, City College of CUNY (NJDOT UAS/Drone Procedures Manual and Best Practices for Use in New Jersey)
2022 Best Poster Award – Ahmed Edrees, New Jersey Institute of Technology (Minimizing Total Cost of Work Zones on Two-Lane Roads with Managed Lanes)
2022 NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap Award (State Agency) – Gary Liedtka-Bizuga and Henry Jablonski, NJDOT, Sawcut Vertical Curb
The Sawcut Vertical Curb was recognized as an innovative response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. The Sawcut Vertical Curb innovation saves time and money and increases safety and efficiency by obviating the need to pour new concrete curbing and allowing guide rail to remain in place during the process. A short video about the Sawcut Vertical Curb innovation was presented when the BABM award was announced during the event.
Presentation of Awards
Accepting the Better Mousetrap Award, Gary Liedtka-Bizuga, Roadway Design Group 1, with Acting Assistant Commissioner Parth Oza, Bureau of Research Manager, Amanda Gendek, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo. Not shown here: Henry Jablonski, Region Central Construction. Photo by Steve Goodman.
Best Poster Award Recipient, Ahmed Edrees, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Minimizing Total Cost of Work Zones on Two-Lane Roads with Managed Lanes. Photo by Steve Goodman.
2022 Outstanding University Student in Transportation Research Award, Xiao Chen, Rutgers University, Innovative Pothole Repair Materials and Techniques. Photo by Steve Goodman.
2022 NJDOT Research Implementation Award, Anil Agrawal, City College of CUNY, NJDOT UAS/Drone Procedures Manual and Best Practices for Use in New Jersey. Photo by Steve Goodman.
In the afternoon, concurrent break-out sessions for research presentations focused on the topics of Equity & Mobility, Infrastructure, and Safety in Transportation, and for the presentation of posters from students and researchers at New Jersey’s colleges and universities describing their methods and findings on ongoing and recently completed research and responding to questions by attendees.
Equity & Mobility Session Recording
Infrastructure Session Recording
Safety in Transportation Session Recording
Equity and Mobility Presentations
Peter J. Jin, Rutgers University-CAIT, Real-Time Traffic Signal System Performance Measure Phase II LINK
Zijia Zhong, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Assessing High-Resolution Connected Vehicle Data for TSM&O Applications LINK
Hannah Younes, Rutgers University-VTC, Factors Influencing the Fatality of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Involved Crashes in New Jersey LINK
Seyed Masoud Shirkhorshidi, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Corrosion Performance of Ultra-High Performance Concrete in Uncracked and Cracked Beams LINK
Rojyar Barhemat, Soroush Mahjoub, Victor C. Li and Yi Bao, Stevens Institute of Technology LINK
Ashith Padinhar and Marath Purakkal, Rowan CREATES, Developing Electrically-Heated Flexible Pavement for Self-Deicing Application LINK
Branislav Dimitrijevic, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Development and Evaluation of a Pedestrian Crossing Alert System Using 2-Channel LiDAR Sensor LINK
Anahita Kakhani, Rowan University, Emerging Countermeasures for Pedestrian Safety: A Review of State of Art and Recent Advances LINK
Sam Rosenthal, Rutgers University, Complete and Green Streets: Effective Public Engagement Practics and Resouces to Promote Safety and Advance Equity LINK
2022 Poster Presentations
Decision Aided Cost and Construction Time Estimates for the Gateway Tunnel Project - Ehsan Mehryaar, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Recommendations for Improving NJDOT Specifications for Cold In-Place Recycling - Ahmed Saidi, Rowan University
Minimizing Total Cost of Work Zones on Two-Lane Roads with Managed Lanes - Ahmed Edrees, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Simulating Corrosion Induced Damage in Recycled Aggregate Concrete Systems - Jin Fan, New Jersey Institute of Technology
A Review on Seat Belt Compliance of Drivers and Front Passengers: Data Collection, Analysis, and Countermeasures - Omar Al-Sheikh, Rowan University
Feasiblity Study of Shared Mobility Programs as a First/Last-Mile Solution in Underserved Communities: A Case Study in Camden City, NJ - Ruqaya Alfaris, Rowan University
Zero-Emission Bus Fleet: A Review of State Practices, Recent Developments, and Future Directions - Zahra Vafakhah, Rowan University
How Distraction Triggers Speeding: An Observational Case Study in New Jersey - Ahmed Sajid Hasan, Rowan University
Use of 100% RAP for Repair Purposes - Dr. Faisal Kabir, Rowan University
Three-Dimensional Finite Element Modeling of Cold In-Place Recycled Asphalt Sections in Accelerated Pavement Testing - Chenchen Huang, Cheng Zhu, Yusuf Mehta & Daniel Offenbacker, Rowan University
Assessment of the Impact of Binder Grade on the Laboratory Performance of Fiber-Reinforced Asphalt Mixtures - Ali Reza Khan, Ayman Ali, Yusuf Mehta, Rowan University
A Framework for Proactive Safety Evaluation of Intersection Using Surrogate Safety Measures and Non-Compliance Behavior - Deep Patel, Rowan University
The Research Showcase was organized by the NJDOT Bureau of Research in partnership with the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and the Rutgers Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center. The 24th Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration.
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 previously, you should not need to register again. Click on the “+”button at the top of the page to register.
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 here: https://njdottechtransfer.ideascale.com/
NEXT ROUND OF RESEARCH. Submit your research ideas no later than December 31, 2022 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.
In 2019, a team of researchers from New York University and Rutgers University examined ways to calibrate and develop Safety Performance Functions (SPFs) to be utilized specifically to address conditions on New Jersey roadways. SPFs are crash prediction models or mathematical functions informed by data on road design. These data include, but are not limited to, lane and shoulder widths, the radius of the curves, and the presence of traffic control devices and turn lanes. With these data, SPFs help those tasked with road design and improvement to build roads and implement upgrades that maximize safety.
The Highway Safety Manual (HSM) presents SPFs developed using historic crash data collected from several states over several years at sites of the same facility type. These SPFs data cannot be transferred to other locations because of expected differences in environment and geographic characteristics, crash reporting policies and even local road regulations. To help SPFs better reflect local conditions and observed data, one of two strategies is usually undertaken to fine-tune SPFs: calibrating the SPFs provided in the HSM so as to fully leverage these data or developing location-specific SPFs regardless of the predictive modeling framework included in the HSM.
The research team, led by Dr. Kaan Ozbay (of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering), chose to pursue both of these strategies. The research report, Calibration/Development of Safety Performance Functions for New Jersey, can be found here. A webinar highlighting the research and findings can be found here. A monograph, supported by the NJDOT funded study and partially by C2SMART, a Tier 1 UTC led by NYU and funded by the USDOT, was also recently published and can be found here.
SPFs can be utilized at several levels. At the network level, researchers and engineers use SPFs to identify locations with promise for improvement. SPFs can be used to predict how safety treatments will affect the likelihood of crashes based on traffic volume and facility type. SPFs can be used to influence project level design by showing the average predicted crash frequency for an existing road design, for alternate designs, and for brand-new roads.
SPFs also can be used to evaluate different engineering treatments. In this case, engineers and researchers return to a site where a safety countermeasure has been installed to collect and analyze data to see how the change has affected crash frequency. They examine before and after conditions and measure if the prediction made using the SPF was accurate or needs improvement (Srinivasan & Bauer, 2013). In the end, SPFs are only as good as the data used in their development.
NJDOT and the NYU-Rutgers team set out to calibrate SPFs using New Jersey’s roadway features, traffic volumes and crash data, and if necessary, to create new SPFs that reflect conditions in the state. The facility types considered for this research project included segments and intersections of rural two-lane two-way, rural multilane, and urban and suburban roads. In examining these datasets, the researchers identified areas where data processing improvements could be made to enhance the quality or efficiency in use of the data in addition to pursuing the stated goal of developing New Jersey-specific SPFs.
For example, utilizing the data provided by NJDOT, the research team developed methods for processing a Roadway Features Database of different kinds of road facilities. The researchers utilized the Straight Line Diagrams (SLD) database, which offers extensive information about the tens of thousands of miles of roadways in New Jersey, but observed issues and errors in the SLD database that required corrections. For example, the research team utilized Google Maps and Google Street View to conduct a manual data extraction process to verify information in the SLD database (e.g., confirm whether an intersection was an overpass, number of lanes, directionality) and extract missing variables, such as the number of left and right turn lanes at intersections, lighting conditions, and signalization needed for the analysis.
The research team also needed to develop programming code to correctly identify the type and location of intersections and effectively work with available data. The team developed a novel “clustering-based approach” to address the absence of horizontal curvature data using GIS centerline maps.
Police reports of crashes often have missing geographic identifiers which complicates analytical work such as whether crashes were intersection-related. In NJ, police are equipped with GPS devices to record crash coordinates but this crash information is somewhat low in the raw crash databases before post-processing by NJDOT. The researchers employed corrective methods and drew upon other NJ GIS maps to provide missing locations (e.g., Standard Route Identification or milepost).
The processing challenges for roadway features, traffic volumes and crashes encountered by the research team suggest the types of steps that can be taken to standardize and streamline data collection and processing to secure better inputs for future SPF updates. Novel data extraction methods will be needed to minimize labor time and improve accuracy of data; accurate crash data is integral to employing these methods.
The research team modified the spreadsheets developed by the HSM and used by the NJDOT staff. The calculated calibration factors and the developed SPFs are embedded in these spreadsheets. The users can now select whether to use the HSM SPFs with the calculated calibration factors or the New Jersey-specific SPF in their analyses
The researchers’ data processing and calibration efforts sought to ensure that the predictive models reflect New Jersey road conditions that are not directly reflected in the Highway Safety Manual. The adoption of this data-driven approach can make it possible to capture information about localized conditions but significant expertise is required to carry out calibration and development analyses. With more research—and improved data collection processes over time —the calibration and development of SPFs holds promise for helping New Jersey improve road safety.
Srinivasan, R., & Bauer, K. M. (2013). Safety Performance Function Development Guide: Developing Jurisdiction-Specific SPFs. The University of North Carolina, Highway Safety Research Center. Retrieved from https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/49505
On April 21, 2022, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar, “Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition!”. The event featured three important research studies that NJDOT was not able to include in the NJDOT Research Showcase virtual event held last October. The Showcase serves as an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway in New Jersey.
The three research studies focused on evaluation and testing of the performance and durability of materials and pavement for use in transportation infrastructure. After each presentation, webinar participants had an opportunity to pose questions to the presenter.
Evaluating the Potential of Using Foamed Concrete as the Insulation Layer for Pavements in Cold Regions. Cheng Zhu, PhD, PE, Assistant Professor, Rowan University, Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATES)
In cold-weather areas, water freezes and thaws in the subgrade layer of the soil and causes weak zones in the subgrade that affect surface layer performance. These weaknesses appear as pavement surface distress and cracking. To protect the subgrade, insulating material is used.
Extruded polystyrene (XPS) boards are commonly used as insulation but face deterioration over time with water infiltration, and installation is time-consuming and labor-intensive. This study looked at the potential for using foamed concrete as an alternative material. The study also looked at the methodology of selecting optimum parameters that balance mechanical strength and insulating effect. When density is low, more air bubbles provide more insulation, but more density gives higher mechanical strength.
Some of the results found through laboratory testing and large-scale testing using a soil box, include: foamed concrete with higher density has a higher compressive strength, thermal conductivity, and a lower porosity; to ensure the subgrade layer remains unfrozen, there is a minimum insulation thickness needed for a foamed concrete layer; increasing the depth of the insulation layer will achieve a better mechanical performance, while also increasing the frozen depth; and using a foamed concrete with a higher density results in a better mechanical performance.
Several questions were posed to Dr. Cheng after his presentation:
Q. What is the estimated design life with foamed concrete?
A. We did not check the timeframe of the pavement structure. We are currently working on lab tests to study the real traffic load on the pavement structure. A simulation could also be used. This is something that we are currently working on.
Q. Were you able to find an optimal thickness and depth combination in this research?
A. We have some recommendations for the specific material used in this study. We have a design table that we can share for the foam concrete material but was not included in this presentation. We did a comparison among several insulation materials including foamed concrete, tire chips, foamed glass aggregates, and XPS board.
Q. Was the insulation box used to create the sample box replicated in the real life soil scenario? A. We used XPS board around the sides to minimize heat transfer and to ensure heat transfer process in this test is vertical. In reality, the heat transfer in pavement is in the vertical direction.
Development of High Friction Surface Treatment Pre-screening Protocols and an Alternative Friction Application. Thomas Bennert, PhD, Rutgers University, Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) Associate Research Professor
The use of HFST can improve surface friction in road pavements around curves to reduce lane departure crashes or on steep declines to improve braking. With HFST, hard angular stone is glued to the pavement surface in less than a ½ inch application. The aggregate of choice, calcined bauxite, is applied using epoxy. HFST must be applied to pavements in “good” or better condition (i.e. with no cracking or rutting).
There can be situations where pavement appears to be in good condition, but is not a good candidate for HFST. In 2018, in studies on two county roads, overlays showed signs of premature deterioration, probably due to previously undetected issues. It was determined that a prescreening protocol was needed to determine substrate conditions before HFST is applied. The study developed an effective prescreening tool that assesses the compatibility of asphalt and epoxy. Field core samples would be used to evaluate pull-off strength and relative asphalt binder properties.
The study also explored High Friction Chip Seal as an alternative to HFST. In a case study, an asphalt-based binding system was shown to be more compatible with the pavement than epoxy resin. Aggregate from local sources proved to be an acceptable substitute and less expensive than bauxite.
Following the presentation, Dr. Bennert responded to questions asked through the chat feature:
Q. What is the life expectancy of HFST? Is it suitable for places with higher traffic volumes?
A. If a road carries high traffic volumes, it is probably designed without horizontal curves and steep declines that might require quick braking. Some areas in Pennsylvania and lower volume highways have used this application. Pavement life expectancy is debatable but generally depends more on the level of traffic volume than years in place. At around a million passes, pavement starts to show raveling, in part due to the effects of UV on epoxy, but aggregate also debonds. Applications can lose friction quickly, an aspect that we are concerned with for its safety implications as well.
Q. Is there any difference in the noise with HFST?
A. In applications using aggregates that point upwards, there is a slight increase in noise at the tire-pavement interface, similar to noise resulting from other microsurface applications in place around the state.
Q. Anything similar to high friction chip seal in use elsewhere in the country?
A. No. We were one of the first to consider this particular application. We worked with the asphalt binder supplier and did some laboratory work and looked at durability. Chip seals have been used in other areas of the country in areas where friction is an issue, but chip seals have not been specifically designed as a friction treatment as this one is.
Influence of Cracking and Brine Concentration on Corrosion and Chloride Content. Aaron Strand is a Ph.D. Candidate in the John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology and recently defended his Ph.D. Dissertation successfully.
Throughout the U.S., agencies are using increasing amounts of salt and brine to counter road icing. Corrosion is an expensive problem for highway bridges. In reinforced concrete bridges, the primary cause of deterioration is chloride-induced corrosion. The focus of this study was the effect of surface-applied chlorides through road salting, typically using rock salt or brine. The research showed that the effect varies dependent on the condition of the bridge deck.
The research explored whether current testing takes into consideration the amount of salt placed on the roads, salt placement cycles, and the current condition of the bridge deck. Chlorides can affect the bridge steel reinforcement through diffusion from the surface, and through cracks in the bridge deck. The variables explored were salt brine concentration and degree of cracking and their effect on the corrosion time of bridge decks. Testing was undertaken in the lab and from core samples from a large-scale bridge deck specimen.
Ongoing work based on this preliminary study includes testing of other concrete mixture designs, testing other rebar types, and developing a model for the amount of chloride content and corrosion current process. Looking at other concrete designs.
Mr. Strand answered several questions following his presentation:
Q. Among the cracked samples, did the higher brine solution show faster corrosion? What was the rate?
A. They all really showed corrosion immediately, at least in the macrocell test, but the rate was not shown. Going back to the total corrosion, six percent showed a quicker rate, but the other three passed the threshold at the half-year mark. There might be a decrease in the time to corrosion as the brine is increased, but it’s maybe not as much as would be expected from such an increase.
Q. Did you introduce temperature as a variable or do you see this as part of a future study?
A. This would be part of a future study. We did look at doing some type of freeze-thaw work on the concrete itself, but not as part of the brine cycling. As part of research into different mixture design, we would look into temperature’s role into the rate of ingress.
Q. How would you like to see your research findings used to inform bridge design, operations or maintenance in the future?
A. The testing we do shows how mixtures might perform together. For actual application-based work, we need to be more careful about the testing of the materials. For example, we know very little about how incorporating changes is in brine concentration might impact corrosion.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation Bureau of Research convened a Lunchtime Tech Talk! Webinar on What Happens Now? Virtual Public Involvement During and Beyond COVID-19 on October 6, 2021. Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research, welcomed everyone to the event which included presentations by five representatives of public sector transportation agencies who discussed the immediate transition and ongoing adaptation to virtual platforms to engage with the public for transportation plans, projects, and other activities, and the benefits and challenges associated with this shift. Of particular emphasis was outreach to underserved and vulnerable populations.
Facilitators for the Tech Talk, Andrea Lubin and Trish Sanchez, from the Rutgers University-Voorhees Transportation Center, Public Outreach and Engagement Team (POET), opened the session with reference to their work on NCHRP Synthesis 538: Practices for Online Public Involvement, and the next phase of work, NCHRP 08-142 Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) – A Manual for Effective, Equitable, and Efficient Practices for Transportation Agencies. During the pandemic, Rutgers POET has conducted public engagement which transitioned to virtual for the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization, Somerset County, and Middlesex County’s Destination 2040 projects. Ms. Sanchez noted the need to experiment with different engagement practices to find what works for each community, and the benefits of building partnerships with local organizations to reach a broad audience. She also noted challenges with VPI such as the digital divide, internet access, and staffing. Ms. Lubin discussed a 2020 study conducted for the Kessler Foundation and interviews with social service agencies and community organizations that offered lessons learned when conducting virtual outreach with vulnerable populations. Despite challenges, Ms. Lubin emphasized that VPI has expanded engagement opportunities in many instances to those who had previously been unable to participate in-person due to obstacles including transportation and childcare.
Rickie Clark, Transportation Specialist with FHWA, noted that Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) is one of the innovative initiatives supported in the fifth and sixth rounds of the agency’s Every Day Counts Initiative. He reviewed the legislation and regulations that requires early and continuous public involvement in the transportation planning and project development process. To meet those requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, FHWA issued VPI Temporary Guidance that will remain in effect until the pandemic has ended. Mr. Clark encouraged the use of a wide array of VPI tools that can be customized to the needs of particular projects and audiences. VPI extends outreach to the public and enables the public to engage with transportation officials efficiently and effectively. For those who have limited access to the internet, he emphasized that transportation agencies must provide alternatives to ensure full, fair, and meaningful participation for all. Mr. Clark noted that New Jersey is using many VPI innovations.
Jamille Robbins, Public Involvement, Community Studies & Visualization Group, Leader, North Carolina DOT, spoke on how his agency has reached underserved communities with VPI. He discussed the importance of pursuing thoughtful marketing to support the success of VPI and other outreach efforts designed to educate and inform the public and other stakeholders in the transportation project development process. He explained that broadening outreach and increasing engagement contributes to transparency and builds trust. He noted that social media is an effective tool for reaching rural, lower-income, Black, Hispanic, and less-educated populations, and that mobile phone friendly communication is essential. However, agencies should not be solely relying upon VPI. Traditional media, webpages, partner agency and organization networks, newsletters, postcards, door hangers and local access television and radio remain effective tools for reaching traditionally underrepresented groups. Similarly, integrating the use of phones to collect public comments can augment traditional methods for collecting input, such as paper surveys. Mr. Robbins shared experiences with utilizing a variety of VPI tools and platforms including public engagement software such as publicinput.com and the social networking service Nextdoor. He also described pre-recorded project information videos as a highly effective tool for controlling messaging and highlighted the agency’s use of online engagement platforms for live meetings, with the recordings placed on the web, so that constituents can access them and provide feedback at any time. Mr. Robbins also promoted the use of project visualizations, including 3D renderings and interactive animation that can be easily dispersed across online communication channels and improve understanding of proposed projects. While sharing many tools creatively being used by NCDOT, Mr. Robbins balanced his remarks with several takeaways and lessons learned observations about the limitations of VPI for reaching underrepresented communities.
Alison Hastings, Associate Director, Communications, Delaware Valley Regional Plan Commission (DVRPC) spoke about the agency’s use of VPI in the Long Range Plan 2050 Visioning process, and for the Ben Franklin Bridge Eastbound Access project, and the regional MPO’s anticipated integration of VPI for public involvement in the post-pandemic era. When pivoting from in-person public engagement to virtual events, Ms. Hastings listed several themes that required consideration: accessibility and accommodations, recreating the in-person experience, setting ground rules and ensuring security. She also described her team’s considerations in determining the specific staffing roles needed for their virtual events, such as lead facilitator, technical assistance leader, and comment response facilitator, among other roles. She noted identifying these positions has helped to ensure smoother virtual events.
DVRPC has used many VPI platforms and tools, both old and new, such as videos, targeted social media campaigns, live transcription and captioning in meetings, web maps, and postcard mailings and noted that public participation has increased with their VPI efforts. Ms. Hastings discussed the advantages of meeting platforms that run well on browsers and smart phones and enable participation in underserved communities that lack internet access. In the future, DVRPC’s equity checklist will include using American Community Survey data to understand the demographics of the project area, communicating why the meeting is important, using Google forms to build contact lists, preparing the team for the challenges of online meetings, experimenting with different outreach, and evaluating the VPI process. She anticipates that hybrid meetings – in person and virtual – will continue and may require additional staff to run efficiently to achieve desired outcomes.
Vanessa Holman, Deputy Chief of Staff and Megan Fackler, Director of Government and Community Relations at NJDOT explained that their Public Information Centers (PICs) and other outreach must be compliant with Title VI requirements. Due to the pandemic, they needed to find ways to bridge the digital divide which is economic, generational, and geographic. NJDOT has combined established methods of engagement with virtual methods, and in particular, collaborated with stakeholders through social media, websites, and digital news sources. They noted that virtual meetings have helped to remove some barriers to participation, such as the need for transportation and childcare. Ms. Holman shared that they have lost some of the interaction typical of an in-person meeting, and noted the different staff demands of online meetings such as prepared scripts. The Department has also expanded communication in other ways, including through 1-2 page project update memos, written in plain language, for public officials. They now tend to over-communicate and continue to use a range of tools. These efforts are resulting in more public participation and comment in general.
Mr. Clark noted that there is no one-size-fits-all public involvement process and promoted the use of an array of public involvement tools to communicate with the public and receive input. Click for Rickie Clark's presentation
North Carolina DOT uses 3D visualizations and interactive animation, among other tools, to help public involvement participants understand proposed projects and impacts. Click for Jamille Robbins' presentation
NJDOT was successful with their two-week, on-line PIC for the Rt. 80 and Rt. 15 Interchange project. They received large volumes of survey responses and discovered key times for public participation that will inform future efforts. Click for Vanessa Holman and Megan Fackler's presentation
At the end of the event, the speakers responded to questions posed by attendees through the platform’s chat feature.
Q. How expensive is NextDoor?
Jamille Robbins: I don’t believe there’s a huge cost associated but I would have to check with our social media coordinator.
Q. What program did North Carolina use to do 3D presentations?
Jamille Robbins: We use 3D Studio Max for a lot of the presentations.
Q. How do you provide for two-way communications and conversations in an online environment that would occur at in-person events?
Alison Hastings: The platforms, such as Zoom, help. The chat box becomes a primary source of input since you can save it. Conversations can happen in breakout rooms with small groups and a facilitator sharing a screen while using Google docs to record notes. Platforms push updates that provide these tools to emulate the in-person experience.
Trish Sanchez: Break-out groups allow people to feel more comfortable speaking openly.
Andrea Lubin: Especially if they are intimidated by large groups.
Q. What are typical costs for publicinput.com?
Jamille Robbins: North Carolina uses it on all projects and it is cost-effective, but I do not know specific costs.
Q. For NJDOT: Have you received feedback, either positive or negative, on the VPI process or the platforms used and has that encouraged you to change anything in your VPI strategies?
Megan Fackler: Not thus far. We have received questions on the platform, and requests for technical assistance. It is important to provide a phone number for people to reach out prior to a meeting if they are having difficulties accessing the meeting.
Q. For Rickie Clark: If a municipality requested an in-person event, would FHWA provide guidelines for conducting such a meeting?
Rickie Clark: The possibility for in-person meetings would depend on state and municipal guidance for in-person engagement, as well as the guidance of local health officials. During the pandemic, the VPI Temporary Guidance is in effect.
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice for VPI for underserved or vulnerable populations, what would it be?
Andrea Lubin: What I heard from Jamille was the power of radio advertising to target outreach, based on the number of people who are regular radio listeners.
Rickie Clark: From the federal perspective, agencies must have a public involvement plan in place to begin with. Agencies should evaluate the effectiveness of VPI tools. DOTs have become more nimble in modifying their approach. Imagine a time after COVID-19 when a hybrid model can be used and start planning now. It will be a win-win.
Jamille Robbins: Look at the demographics of the area and population characteristics. If there are EJ or LEP communities, reach out to the local planning office or someone familiar with the area. This is the most effective way to get into those communities.
Q. How do you handle data protection in the VPI process?
Alison Hastings: Don’t ask the question if you can’t protect the information you gather. Also, sunset dates determine how long a survey remains open. Set a date for expunging contact information after gathering that information. Use the same process for focus groups.
Jamille Robbins: We are simplifying the demographic information we are requesting. Asking for a name, email, and address may pass a threshold. Keep in mind that information gathered at a public meeting is a matter of public record.
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.
Bridge scour is the removal of sediment such as sand and gravel from around non-tidal bridge substructures and supports caused by swiftly moving water. This water can scoop out scour holes, compromising the integrity of a structure. Understanding the extent of bridge damage and prioritizing the order of repair is critical to maintaining safe bridges.
With the support of NJDOT's Bureau of Research, researchers developed the NJ-specific Scour Evaluation Model (SEM) to prioritize bridges for repair. The SEM model was determined to be effective and is now approved by FHWA and NJDOT to evaluate scour risk. The project included training of consultants to encourage the expanded use of the SEM model in NJ.
The video promotes the benefits of funded research to increase the safety of the traveling public, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.
On April 22, 2021, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar, “Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition!”. The event featured three important research studies that NJDOT was not able to include in the NJDOT Research Showcase virtual event held last October. The Showcase serves as an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway in New Jersey.
The three projects examined various issues in transportation from surface transportation vulnerability to climate change, to the impacts of lighting on work zone safety, to policies that regulate overweight trucks in New Jersey. After each presentation, webinar participants had an opportunity to pose questions of the presenter.
Quantifying Impacts of Disruptive Precipitation to Surface Transportation: A Data-Driven Mitigation Approach. Raif Bucar is a third-year Engineering Management Ph.D. student at Stevens Institute of Technology, currently conducting research on surface transportation vulnerability to flood events. The study adopts a multidisciplinary approach to look at the effects of not only 100 and 500 year floods, but also more frequent events that cause local flooding to assess the impact on mobility and accessibility in Hoboken, NJ. The resulting study explores flooding impacts on the transportation system in terms of mobility and accessibility metrics and can inform the flood mitigation measures and measures to improve resilience.
The study used a traffic simulation model to look at storm magnitude and high and low tide in relation to Vehicle Miles Traveled, Vehicle Hours Traveled, and Trips Completed. Mr. Bucar described analysis of data to predict flood risk and determine areas of higher probability of flooding by year-storm and tide to determine why some areas flood more often than others. The study explored urban characteristics including land cover and topography, elevation, slope, impervious coverage, and drainage system features, and looked at the correlation of these features with flooding.
Mr. Bucar described the application of this information to determine routing information for drivers by applying machine learning to develop a “most valuable path” that adjusts travel time based on each link in the route and diverts drivers in response to changing conditions during flood events. The study findings can also be applied to guide flood resilience transportation planning. Future work will look at other models to validate this study’s assumptions, and will investigate driver behavior during flood events and how drivers respond to new information.
Following the presentation, Mr. Bucar responded to questions asked through the chat feature:
Q. There is not as much research on rainfall-induced flooding. Why not?
A. There may be resistance to using interdisciplinary approaches to exploring this problem. This is an area that needs more research as the disruptive effects of flooding on transportation mobility is increasingly apparent.
Q. How translatable is this approach to other cities or locations?
A. Thus far, we have not applied the framework to other areas, but should be able to apply it to other controlled study areas. A study of larger areas, such as a state, will not show local differences. There is a limit to how much we can scale this model.
Q. How do you plan on factoring in driver behavior and driver knowledge of flood events in future studies?
A. We anticipate using surveys and controlled experiments.
Lighting, Visual Guidance and Age: Importance to Safety in Roadway Work Zones. Dr. John Bullough is the Director of Transportation and Safety Lighting Programs and a Course Instructor in the graduate program in lighting at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Work zones are complex visual environments, and particularly so at night when illumination is needed for workers to complete tasks and for drivers to see the work area and understand how to navigate around it. Roadway delineators, and steady and flashing lights used in work zones can cause glare and visual chaos that affect drivers’ ability to see well. These challenges are exacerbated for older drivers due to physical changes in the eye over time.
Dr. Bullough described the Relative Visual Performance (RVP) model used to look at the speed and accuracy of visual processing in relationship to light level, the contrast between an object and the background, the size of an object, and the age of the observer. The research compared the effects of: steady lighting; flashing lights at night and during the day; sign retroreflectivity, color, and lettering; and road delineators on younger and older drivers.
Dr. Bullough noted that, with an aging driving population, the needs of older drivers should be considered to improve road safety around work zones. Study conclusions emphasize that older drivers need higher light levels than younger adults, but warns that higher light levels can create more glare. There is a need for flashing warning light intensity specifications that reflect the needs of drivers of all ages. It was noted that higher reflectivity in sign sheeting can extend legibility distances and so assist older drivers. Dr. Bullough noted that monitoring of light levels is needed throughout their use to keep levels of glare low.
Several questions were posed to Dr. Bullough after his presentation:
Q. Was the information broken down for age groups over 60 years? A. Optical changes continue to ages 70 and 80. However, there are other potential visual problems among individuals in these age groups – for example, cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma which make generalizations more difficult.
Q. Does the color of light affect glare and visibility? A. It depends on what we mean by “glare”. Red and blue lights – which we might find on police and flashing lights of highway maintenance trucks – have the same contrast-reducing characteristics regardless of color. However, people tend to be more sensitive to bluer colors; they find them much brighter, more glaring, more annoying and distracting even if they do not affect visibility any more than red or yellow lights of the same intensity. So, depending on what we mean by glare – if it’s that sensation of pain or annoyance – color matters a lot; if it is just visibility than it really comes down to candle-power, or candelas.
Q. What were the overall differences between urban and rural environments? A. Urban environments tend to be more difficult for all drivers to find key information in the visual clutter. However, the effect is still much harder for older people than young people.
Q. How does eye recovery after glare differ between younger and older people? A. Eyes in older people take twice as long to recover (3-4 seconds) after exposure to glare than in younger people.
Analysis of Overweight Truck Permit Policy in New Jersey. Dr. Hani Nassif is a professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where he has established the Bridge Engineering Program. Dr. Nassif introduced the study and acknowledged the contribution of the research team that worked on this study and a prior study focused on the impact of freight on pavement and bridge infrastructure.
This research study explored whether New Jersey’s scheduled permit fees for overweight trucks allow NJDOT to recover all or part of the costs of the damage imposed by these vehicles traveling on NJ roads and bridges.
In a previous study, researchers had correlated truck overweight data with damage to bridges and pavements which showed higher rate of deterioration with higher rates of use by overweight trucks. The main question for this study considered whether the permit fees were sufficient to recover the costs incurred on the infrastructure. Then, in light of these findings, what policy recommendations could be made to change permit policies.
Dr. Nassif described various data sources and methods that were used to estimate the costs of damage to roads and bridges caused by overweight vehicles, including six years of data from the NJ Overweight Permit Database, Straight Line Diagrams of the NJ roadway network, GIS and the National Bridge Inventory including bridge location and conditions.
Dr. Nassif also provided an overview of NJ Overweight Permits, explaining the various types, validity, fee schedule and weight rules. He highlighted the challenges of effectively collecting fees for overweight trucks and use categories for which fees are not adequately collected. If a truck weighs more than 80,000 lbs., a permit should be obtained. Although, the State issues 100,000 permits each year, 96 percent of overweight trucks are estimated to be running without permits. These are not short hauls; the trip length is, on average, 50 miles.
The study also looked at fee permitting across the country. Each state uses one of three different permit fee structures: a flat fee; an oversize, overweight fee; and a new model which combines oversize, overweight, and mileage. The study included an effort to benchmark New Jersey against other states in terms of its fee structure. NJ is fourth highest in terms of overweight fee structure. Any revised policy must take into account these higher fees in relation to neighboring states.
Dr. Nassif noted that the study findings can inform discussion of alternative policies on trucking fees. The State can maintain the same fee schedule, add mileage to the fee calculation, or charge a flat fee. Dr. Nassif noted that it is not the objective of the state to recoup all the damage costs but perhaps to try to have all sectors of the economy pay their share in terms of the damage to the infrastructure. He suggested that, because trucks using more than six axles cause less damage, the use of more axles could be incentivized. Fees in NJ are already high, so an increase may not be feasible. All sectors of the trucking industry should pay their fair share. There may be greater efficiency and equity in imposing a permit fee structure that collects a greater fee for longer mileage trips.
Dr. Nassif answered several questions following his presentation:
Q. What would be your recommendation for regulating overweight trucks- to change to a flat fee or a mileage-based fee? A. A combination of overweight and mileage fees might be most appropriate in NJ for a fair distribution of permit fees. This is similar to neighboring states. The average trip length is 50 miles for a permit. If a truck travels more, the State could add $1 for each additional mile would recoup 80 percent of the damage cost.
Q. Have you considered the cost of compliance in payment of fees for overweight vehicles? We have been trying to work with the trucking association – we had a couple of workshops with stakeholders from agencies and trucking association – with the overall goal of enhancing the movement of goods. For example, the state could incentivize the use of a larger number of axles by lowering fees for these trucks. Truck weight enforcement is currently inefficient – it’s like chasing “cat and mouse”. Permits are not obtained for most overweight vehicles. Autonomous enforcement using accurate sensors along the road could result in citations and force drivers to get overweight permits. Weigh-in-Motion stations could be used as enforcement stations.
The enforcement needs to be more effective and we need more legislation; this legislation is under consideration in NY. NJ should consider this legislation to generate more revenue, and provide an equal footing for all parts of the trucking industry.
Q. With regional partners working together would we see more compliance? A. There have been some regional efforts, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey calling for harmonizing the permitting process across state lines. New Jersey and New York could take the lead in advancing legislation to create a unified approach from Connecticut to Delaware and Maryland.