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

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).

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.

Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: Dredging, Dredged Material Management and the NJ Marine Transportation System

On May 12, 2020, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! Webinar on "Dredging, Dredged Material Management and the New Jersey Marine Transportation System.” W. Scott Douglas, Dredging Program Manager in NJDOT’s Office of Maritime Resources (OMR), discussed the dredging process, management of dredged material, OMR’s asset management system, and dredging case studies.

Mr. Douglas discussed the extent of New Jersey's Marine Transportation System, and its significance to the local, and larger economy.

Mr. Douglas described the New Jersey Marine Transportation System (MTS) that includes all infrastructure and equipment that connects land-based transportation assets to navigable water. The MTS supports a $50 billion industry that encompasses international and domestic freight, commercial fishing, recreational boating, travel and tourism, marine trades and ferries. NJDOT is directly responsible for maintaining some 200 of the 600 nautical miles of engineered waterways that provide safe navigation pathways to and from the shore-based infrastructure, and provides dredged material management services for another 150 nautical miles of Federal waterway. Since Superstorm Sandy, OMR is the State’s lead agency for these responsibilities, providing planning, design, procurement and construction services and coordinating the State’s waterway emergency response.

The system is divided into three regions: the New Jersey/New York Harbor (the third largest port in the country), the Delaware River, and the Atlantic Shore where NJDOT takes a larger role. Much of their work involves managing clean dredge materials in shallow draft areas where there is little land on which to place the dredged material. Mr. Douglas described the various aspects of the dredging process including bathymetric surveys, sediment sampling and analysis, and permitting, and went on to explain uses of dredged material.

As a natural part of the aquatic ecosystem, sediment is a resource. The Office of Maritime Resources works to reuse the material in various ways depending on the nature and composition of the sediment. Mr. Douglas offered several examples of reuse such as construction fill, beach replenishment, landfill capping, and brownfield redevelopment. The OMR is exploring the use of sediment to increase shoreline resiliency through marsh and dune restoration and other shoreline stabilization techniques, island creation, dredged hole replacement, and habitat creation.

The talk highlighted several facets of collecting, tracking, and dispersing dredged materials.

Mr. Douglas discussed his agency’s Maritime Asset Management tools developed to evaluate cost, conditions, and to help prioritize the Office’s work. Their Waterway Linear Segmentation database, comparable to the roadway Straight Line Diagrams, is a first in the nation for maritime asset management. OMR is assembling a dredged material database. Deployment of these tools is anticipated later this year. OMR’s Maritime Asset Management Systems comprises these two tools and produces plans based on current and future conditions, cost, and availability of dredge system management. The output is similar to the asset management reports used by highway and bridge engineers to assist management in decisionmaking.

Successes of the state’s channel dredging program include 54 channels cleared and 45 nautical miles of waterway opened. Mr. Douglas highlighted three dredging case studies including projects in the Port Jersey Channel, Shark River, and Upper Barnegat Bay. In 2020, OMR has four ongoing projects and four planned projects to open a total of 25 channels.

Participants posed questions via the Q&A feature. Mr. Douglas was asked what quality controls are in place before dredged material is moved. He noted that New Jersey has one of the most stringent systems in place in the country. NJDEP has a list of contaminants related to locations. They test both the sediment before it is moved, and the water, and a mixture of sediment water. If the material is stabilized and placed upland, it is exposed to lab testing and leachate tests on site. Another participant asked if dredging stirs up contaminants. Mr. Douglas replied that it can, and that the rigorous testing is designed to address the possibility. He noted the distinction between navigation dredging to clear a channel and environmental dredging conducted to clean contaminants from a waterway.

In response to a question concerning locations of island creation, Mr. Douglas stated that a group led by the US Fish & Wildlife Service is looking into potentially creating islands in Barnegat Bay.

A participant asked if dredged material could be used in new embankments and walls that NJDOT is building throughout the state. Mr. Douglas responded that the biggest barrier is cost. Straight fill is less expensive and easier to schedule; timing of highway projects with maritime projects has been difficult.

A participant wondered how the required dredge depth is verified once it is completed? Dredge depth is determined before dredging begins. Generally, channel depth has been determined for the entire state. Usually the depth changes only if conditions change, such as would be required with the introduction of larger vessels needing access to ports.

In response to a question concerning work continuing during the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr. Douglas noted that work is continuing and inspectors are on site every day following appropriate and requisite protocols.

The presentation given by Mr. Douglas can be downloaded here.

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

TECH TALK! Webinar: EDC Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian

UPDATE: This live webinar has been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date.

Those who are registered will remain registered.


Please join the NJDOT Bureau of Research on April 2nd for an Innovation Exchange Webinar, “EDC Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)”, that we are convening in Training Room A in the E&O Building at NJDOT Headquarters.

Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP), an Every Day Counts (EDC) innovation, is about a new type of “STEP” to keep pedestrians safe at uncontrolled road crossing locations. This webinar will outline five cost-effective countermeasures available to local agencies, and identify resources to guide in their selection and installation. Stories from local agencies will tell of county, city, and Tribal deployment leadership, with details on site and countermeasure selection, installation, monitoring, and improved safety measures of success.

AICP and NJ PE credits are available. This “live” webinar event is free to attend, but you must register ahead of time to guarantee a seat as there is limited space in the training room:

WEBINAR: EDC Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)


Time: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM; Sign-in: 12:50 pm
Location:  NJDOT E&O Building, Training Room A
1035 Parkway Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08625

This Innovation Exchange webinar is one in a series sponsored by the Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery.  Through Innovative Exchange webinars, CLAS is bringing cutting-edge transportation leaders to the table to share ideas and out of the box innovative practices that have proven results.


Tech Talk! Launching Micromobility in NJ and Beyond

Micromobility Tech Talk was held on February 20, 2020.

Micromobility Tech Talk was held on February 20, 2020.

The NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Tech Talk! Event, Micromobility’s Launch in NJ and Beyond, that explored the current state of micromobility as a shared transport option in the U.S. and highlighted recent research on cities that have begun to develop and/or refine policies for their bike share and e-scooter programs. In New Jersey, Hoboken and Asbury Park have been on the leading edge by piloting micromobility programs. The speakers presented each city’s experiences with bike-share and the introduction of e-scooters, as well as the demographics of usage, user satisfaction, and community receptivity. Discussion of the nuts and bolts and the challenges of ramping up shared mobility options included: needed infrastructure improvements; marketing and education to attract users and promote safety; law enforcement; and staffing, funding and revenue sharing. The event was held in the NJDOT Multipurpose Room on February 20, 2020.

What is micromobility? The presenters agreed that micromobility includes transportation devices such as electric scooters, bikes and e-bikes to travel shorter distances generally in urbanized areas, often to or from another mode (e.g., bus, train or car).  These modes of transport tend to be associated with first-mile/last-mile use (i.e. to and from public transportation).  While not required, users typically rent e-scooters or bikes for a short period of time using an app. The devices are most suitable for operations in well-marked or protected spaces, such as bike lanes, and are operated by a single person at a time.

Charles Brown, MPA, CPD, Senior Researcher, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Mr. Brown discussed findings from two recent studies on bike share and e-scooter programs in the United States recently prepared by the NJ Bicycling and Pedestrian Resource Center.  The first part of his talk was on Evaluating the Spatial Equity in Bike Share Systems.  He began by defining equity, and framed the research as asking the question of whether low-income and minority populations enjoy the same range of transportation options available to other populations.  In this study, the research team examined the equity dimension of docked bike share systems in ten of the largest systems in the U.S.  He described the eight socioeconomic variables used as predictors and two dependent variable measures of bike availability — station density by area or station density by population — used to assess the spatial equity of major bike share systems. His presentation included GIS maps and bar charts to aid in visualizing equity disparities within each system and to compare systems. His talk included a rank order of the relative spatial equity of each of the major bike share systems; this methodology and scoring was also used to benchmark the three NJ-based bike share systems in Jersey City, Hoboken and Asbury Park.

Comparative analysis of Bike Share locations

The E-Scooter Programs: Current State of Practice in US Cities report explores the state of practice for e-scooters in 11 cities in the U.S, taking into consideration applicable state and local regulations, access and equity concerns, and other aspects of managing e-scooters, with an ultimate goal of identifying best practices for incorporating e-scooters as a micromobility option in NJ communities.  Drawing from the report’s major themes, Mr. Brown offered several tips for implementing E-Scooter Share Programs in NJ, touching upon operational regulations and permitting requirements, managing the right-of-way, equitable service standards, public engagement and education, and data reporting.

Ryan Sharp, AICP, PP, Director, Transportation and Parking, City of Hoboken, NJ. Mr. Sharp began his presentation with a discussion of Hoboken’s experience with bike share since the program began in 2013. Hudson Bike Share currently has 40 stations, over 300 bikes, and over 10,000 active users during the peak season. When considering where to locate docking stations, the city solicited public input and mapped areas of public housing, communities of concern, and those residents living the greatest distance from transit. Funding for the program comes from sponsorships for each bike, membership and fare revenue, and advertisement. Bikes are generally used for first and last mile trips.

Mike Manzella, Ryan Sharp, and Charles Brown

Hoboken’s e-scooter pilot program began in May 2019 and ramped up quickly. In the first month, the city’s scooters had the highest usage rate in the world for several days. Mr. Sharp discussed safety issues that arose and the need for regulations and education to address underage riders, where and when to ride, speed limit, and parking. An internal e-scooter task force developed several strategies to address these concerns. The city conducted a survey of shared e-scooter use that showed reduced motor vehicle use among e-scooter riders.

Michael Manzella, AICP, PP, Director of Transportation, City of Asbury Park, NJ. Mr. Manzella noted that in this popular shore destination, bike share and e-scooters alleviate parking problems and provide a transportation option for the one-third of the city’s population who are carless. The city introduced a bike share program in 2017 which now has 8 stations with 40 bikes and consistently increasing usage over time. They have located stations in all four quadrants of the city so that people can access the convention hall, boardwalk, downtown, and rail station. Infrastructure is critical to program success and they have striped over four miles of bike lanes.

The city began a pilot e-scooter program in August of 2019 with 25 scooters, but ramped up quickly to 50 stations and 250 scooters. Through a survey, Asbury Park has found that scooter use is replacing car trips. Some safety issues have spurred a decrease in e-scooter travel speed, age verification requirement before rental, and increased education efforts including the use of social media.

The speakers agreed that bike share and e-scooters have a place in their communities. They will continue to promote and expand the programs while addressing safety concerns and the need for infrastructure.

The presenters made several additional points in response to audience questions and comments.

  • The e-scooter companies hire local residents to collect the scooters, charge them overnight, and rebalance distribution throughout the city. The companies track bike and e-scooter usage, and know when the peaks in use are and where to deploy them. Hundreds of people in Hoboken are earning some money through the program. Hoboken’s Housing Authority subsidized the charging costs so individuals did not pay for the increased electricity use.
  • When there are maintenance issues, the companies are quick to repair them and will refund rides if there is an issue. The 311 system accepts reports of maintenance issues and the cities receive monthly maintenance reports on the systems. Newer e-scooters can self-diagnose problems.
  • Infrastructure to support micromobility is essential, but current street design is not set up for increased bike and e-scooter use; there are challenges with design and right-of-way. Hoboken currently has a few protected bike lanes. Asbury Park has no protected bike lanes yet, but is working on a design for them. The speakers noted that dedicated infrastructure, along with signals and signage, may help with both safety and compliance issues.
  • Neither city has taken on-street motor vehicle parking spaces for use for the e-scooter program. Hoboken has claimed some unused street areas for scooter and bike parking.
  • Businesses and merchants have responded positively to the scooter programs. E-scooter users are able to access parts of the city they could not before and businesses, especially those establishments not on the main street or in the downtown area, are seeing more activity.
  • At this time, a smartphone and app are needed for e-scooters, but not for the bike share program. This creates a barrier for unbanked people than those without a smartphone. Asbury Park is hoping to roll out the SPIN access discount program to enable people to purchase e-scooter rides with cash.
  • Both Hoboken and Asbury Park will be introducing e-bikes.
  • NJ TRANSIT and Port Authority have banned any vehicle with lithium ion batteries; e-scooters cannot be taken on trains or buses.
  • E-scooters are deployed in light rain, but not in snow or heavy rain.
  • There is a 250 lb. weight limit for e-scooter use.


E-Scooter Programs: Current State of Practice in US Cities

Evaluating the Spatial Equity in Bike Share Systems

City of Asbury Park Bike Share Program

City of Asbury Park Scooters Program

Hudson Bike Share

City of Hoboken Electric Scooter Program


Tech Talk! Green Infrastructure in Transportation

Welcome to the NJDOT Bureau of Research Tech Talk!

NJDOT Bureau of Research Tech Talk!

The NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a half-day Tech Talk! Event, Green Infrastructure in Transportation, that highlighted examples of transportation-related green infrastructure projects that have been planned and implemented for stormwater management and flood protection. The event included speakers from state DOTs, county and local governments, the consulting engineering sector and the policy advocacy community.  The speakers reflected a multi-disciplinary orientation of engineering, planning and environmental science specializations. Their talks touched upon both planning and project implementation activities at the state and local levels that have been undertaken in response to the increasing intensity and frequency of severe weather events and subsequent flooding. Registration was full for this half-day event held in the NJDOT Multipurpose Room on June 5, 2019.

Representatives of New Jersey, Maine and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation presented Stormwater Best Management Practices to control and treat highway and parking lot runoff. Local agencies in Passaic County and the City of Hoboken presented their priority strategies and actions for addressing stormwater management through the adoption and implementation of Green Infrastructure Strategic Plans. A representative of New Jersey Future, a statewide non-profit advocacy organization that promotes smart growth policies, discussed opportunities to advance green streets throughout New Jersey.

Sandra Blick, P.E., NJDOT, Bureau of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Solutions

Sandra Blick, P.E., NJDOT, Bureau of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Solutions

Sandra Blick, P.E., NJDOT, Bureau of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Solutions.  Ms. Blick provided key background definitions for green infrastructure, descriptions of the elements of green infrastructure, and a brief history of green infrastructure in New Jersey related to state standards, testing and design criteria, and proposed NJDEP rule changes. She also discussed NJDOT’s implementation of green infrastructure best management practices over the past decade, including bio-retention basins and swales, constructed wetlands, infiltration basins, and porous sidewalks, among others. Ms. Blick noted that green infrastructure for roadways involves complex design and construction and requires intensive maintenance. She emphasized that these strategies only work if the water treatment processes continue to function.

Brian Luce, P.E., Maine Department of Transportation, Pavement Quality and Design

Brian Luce, P.E., Maine Department of Transportation, Pavement Quality and Design

Brian Luce, P.E., Maine Department of Transportation, Pavement Quality and Design. Mr. Luce described MaineDOT’s experience with installation of porous asphalt pavement on Maine Mall Road and at the International Marine Terminal (IMT) in Portland, Maine. He described the initial design and construction in 2009 of porous asphalt on Maine Mall Road, a relatively high-traffic segment of roadway, and current road conditions. His talk touched upon the success and durability of the project along with some lessons learned in select distressed sections due to sub-optimal temperatures during construction and the tracking of sands and salts onto porous sections that require patching. Mr. Luce noted that the success of the Maine Mall installation gave Maine DOT the confidence that a similar porous pavement structure could work for a chassis yard pavement project at the IMT to filter pollutants in stormwater runoff before it entered a nearby waterbody. After installation, a storm event provided evidence of the pavement’s effectiveness.  However, a subsequent review of the IMT revealed some raveling at joints and in isolated areas, most likely due to cold air and base temperatures during construction, as well as cooler mix temperatures due to a long haul to the site. The repair techniques that were subsequently required at the IMT site offered lessons, Mr. Luce observed, potentially applicable to the Maine Mall Road when repair and replacement of porous structures are needed.

Edwina Lam, P.E., AECOM

Edwina Lam, P.E., AECOM

Elaine Elbich, P.E., Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Edwina Lam, P.E., AECOM. In their presentation, “21st Century Stormwater Management: Designing and Building Gray and Green Infrastructure on I-95,” Ms. Elbich and Ms. Lam discussed this highway reconstruction project that slices through Philadelphia along the Delaware River. In addition to designing for stormwater best management practices, they sought to improve waterfront access, lighting, and access to usable green spaces, and described solutions in response to challenges in this urban environment, such as right-of-way, contaminated soils, historic properties, underground utilities, and maintenance. The presenters described the Sustainable Action Committee, formed to coordinate decision-making among agencies and ensure integration of stakeholder and community needs in the design and planning process. Their talk also highlighted the value of an ongoing and productive partnership with Villanova University in providing critical research on the performance of green infrastructure solutions such as rain gardens off an elevated highway as part of their stormwater management solutions. Ms. Lam described the primary stormwater management elements, and the materials and extensive planting involved.

Kandyce Perry, New Jersey Future, Jersey Water Works

Kandyce Perry, New Jersey Future, Jersey Water Works

Kandyce Perry, New Jersey Future, Jersey Water Works. Ms. Perry presented on “GREEN and Complete Streets: Designing Streets for People, Cars, AND Stormwater.” She introduced the New Jersey Future’s New Jersey Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit and presented several examples of green infrastructure implementation in New Jersey communities, and potential sites for implementation. She noted that the publication, Complete & Green Streets for All, currently being circulated in draft form, provides a model policy and guide for local agencies for planning and implementing Complete Streets that incorporate green street features. Ms. Perry suggested that NJDOT could support green infrastructure by adding green streets into the state’s Complete Streets policies and programs, prioritizing green streets through the Local Aid grant program, partnering with local agencies on demonstration projects, and integrating green streets into the NJDOT Roadway Design Manual.

Jason Miranda, Passaic County Department of Planning & Economic Development

Jason Miranda, Passaic County Department of Planning & Economic Development

Jason Miranda, Passaic County Department of Planning & Economic Development.  After highlighting the benefits of green infrastructure, Mr. Miranda spoke about the County’s recently undertaken planning process that preceded the adoption of the green stormwater infrastructure element of the Passaic County Master Plan. He discussed the County’s Stormwater Management Guidance Manual and Green Streets Guidelines as key parts of this Master Plan element. Mr. Miranda provided an example of a green streets initiative, the Haledon Avenue Green Streets Pilot Project in the City of Paterson. The County is working on a monitoring plan to evaluate the project and is working with community groups to ensure maintenance. The County has formed a Green Stormwater Infrastructure Committee to identify future projects.

Caleb Stratton, AICP, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Hoboken

Caleb Stratton, AICP, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Hoboken

Caleb Stratton, AICP, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Hoboken.  In his presentation, “Infrastructure as Adaptation,” Mr. Stratton discussed the storm events that resulted in extensive flooding in Hoboken and propelled the development of a citywide Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan to manage stormwater. He emphasized the importance of leveraging funding for road resurfacing and lighting projects to acquire funding to implement green infrastructure projects and mentioned how Hoboken has effectively worked with the state’s infrastructure bank. Hoboken’s green infrastructure strategy defines green infrastructure techniques that address retention, detention, and infiltration in specific areas of the city. He showed examples of rain gardens, pervious pavement, bio-swales, cisterns, and other infrastructure that have been implemented in the city.  This included visualization and photos of green street elements incorporated into street design improvements on First Street and Washington Street to address stormwater. He also referred to the city’s ongoing development of the Hoboken Street Design Guide to guide design and construction of Complete Streets and green streets.

The presenters made several additional points in response to audience questions and comments.

  • The market is driving public/private partnerships that support green infrastructure. In Philadelphia, a development corporation is working with PennDOT to make it easier for people to access the waterfront. The agency is also working with various entities in communities along the project corridor.
  • It is often difficult to determine which green infrastructure alternatives to use but industry is learning. Speakers agreed that green infrastructure will not be the solution in all situations; these projects must pass the benefit/cost test.
  • Green infrastructure installations make extensive use of plant material, at times unsuccessfully due to the effects of contaminants. Research is continuing in order to determine which plants will stand up to the absorption of contaminants, in particular road salts.
  • Planners need to be aware of where water is going once it is collected via stormwater management techniques. Speakers cautioned that water cleaned through such a system may migrate to a contaminated zone.
  • The speakers noted that green infrastructure is increasingly discussed, but implementation varies depending on the capabilities of the transportation agency or engineering firm. The proposed NJDEP rule changes that require inclusion of green infrastructure in future development projects will lead to broader awareness and implementation through the state.

Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit

Green Infrastructure Element of the Passaic County Master Plan

Hoboken Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan

New Jersey Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual

New Jersey Developers’ Green Infrastructure Guide

Philadelphia Innovates on Green Infrastructure (Click here to watch video)

Sandra Blick described elements in NJDOT”s green infrastructure toolbox and emphasized that successful Green Infrastructure requires that treatment processes function after implementation.

Maine DOT’s Brian Luce described the design, performance and lessons learned from installation of porous pavements on Maine Mall Road and at intermodal terminal facility.

Kandyce Perry of NJ Future, a statewide advocacy organization, offered recommendations on how NJDOT could advance green streets into its policies, programs and projects.

Edwina Lam and Elaine Elbich highlighted many of the lessons learned from the integration of green infrastructure design elements into the reconstruction of I-95 in an urban section of Philadelphia.

Caleb Stratton, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Hoboken, recounted how the commuity is using a City-Wide Green Infrastructure Strategy to prepare for future weather events like Hurricane Irene.

Jason Miranda, Senior Planner for Passaic County, NJ, detailed the process and results of their Green Stormwater Infrastructure Element & Green Streets Pilot Project

Tech Talk! Data Visualization in Transportation: Communicating Transportation Findings and Plans

Communicating Transportation Findings and Plans: Charts, Renderings, and Interactive Visualizations

In November 2018, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a half-day Tech Talk event, Data Visualization in Transportation, that highlighted recent research and examples of innovative data visualization methods used by state DOTs and MPOs.

The NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a half-day Tech Talk event that highlighted research and featured innovative examples of data visualization methods in use by transportation agencies.  Five speakers discussed tools and resources that they use to create visualizations to connect with target audiences, and to provide information to their constituencies.  Select visualization tools in use by New Jersey's MPOs and innovative best practices being deployed at other State DOTs were featured.  Registration was full for the event which was held in the NJDOT Multipurpose Room on November 29, 2018.

Data visualization includes such applications as modeling, animation, simulation, and virtual reality. In 2006, through draft guidance for implementing provisions in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETY-LU), FHWA required states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to use visualization techniques in the development of transportation plans and programs to promote improved understanding on the part of the public, elected and appointed officials, and other stakeholders. Visualization applications allow planners, designers and engineers to communicate complex multidimensional information in a way that is comprehensible to a general audience in order to facilitate collaboration, resulting in more informed decisions, fewer delays, and more buy-in at each step of the design and project implementation processes. Visualizations can also improve understanding of the project among planners, designers, and engineers, improving cost effectiveness.

The first speaker, Nathan Higgins, is the author of Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies, the summary document from his research conducted for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Mr. Higgins’ presentation, “Data Visualization in Transportation: NJDOT,” discussed that written report and the associated website that provides guidance for the visualization process. He navigated the website to show examples of visualizations for transportation applications, chart types and software tools available, and data and style resources. He emphasized the importance of each visualization as a critical opportunity to communicate information, and noted that, although intensive work with data requires a specific skill set, visualizations are possible to create without elaborate tools and software.

Nathan Higgins, author of the NCHRP Report, Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies, shared examples of effective visualizations used by state DOTs and other transportation agencies. The project website is an informative resource for transportation professionals interested in honing their skills in communicating ideas to an audience through illustrations and visualizations.

Attendees learned how such tools and best practices can be used to foster more effective involvement with the public and an agency's various customers. In his presentation, “Visualizing Your Project,” Matt Taylor, PE, Alabama DOT described various visualization methods, with an emphasis on reality mesh, renderings, photomatching, and animation to create 3D environments that bring transportation projects to life. He noted that 80 percent of Alabama DOT’s data visualizations are used at public hearings to help stakeholders understand projects and how they will fit into the community. He provided several examples, including one of a Divergent Diamond Interchange which creates a traffic pattern that is unfamiliar to most drivers. He developed a visualization that helped to explain the new traffic flow. He noted that visualizations can provide models for contractors to use in planning, and can be useful for catching design problems. In response to a question, he noted that there are often multiple conceptualizations over the design life of a project, for example, to present all the alternatives for a transportation project, and the details needed to support a preferred alternative, or to model the construction stages.

Nicholas Johnson from Nevada DOT explained how visualizations, including virtual reality simulations, are being used to build awareness and foster support by illustrating how completed projects may function and be experienced by affected communities.

Nick Johnson, PE, PMP, CPM, Nevada DOT presented on “Interactive Visualization,” which he described as an emerging, virtual-reality-based mode for visualizing transportation projects. The Interactive Visualization innovation is a peer-selected focus innovation for the AASHTO Innovation Initiative, which seeks out proven advancements in transportation technology to accelerate adoption by agencies nationwide. Mr. Johnson discussed the value of this technology for assisting interested parties in understanding a transportation project during the public engagement process. His agency’s outreach events have featured simulations and virtual reality. Mr. Johnson gave an example of a Native American community that was concerned that a noise wall would block the rising sun from their view, preventing them from knowing the time for worship. The visualization alleviated the community’s objections by demonstrating that the sunrise would not be blocked by the wall. He emphasized the importance of visual communication to Millennials and GenXers.

In response to questions about the cost of creating visualizations, the speakers responded that cost depends on the project location, complexity, and the detail required to communicate needed information to the target audience. Speakers noted that their agencies have two to three full-time employees to work intensively with data to create databases and visualizations. A small Complete Streets project that is not very complex may take two weeks to finish and larger transportation projects may require multiple visualizations over the course of the planning and construction stages. Mr. Johnson’s public involvement events have offered an opportunity to use a driving simulator and Virtual Reality goggles, available through a contractor, to help immerse stakeholders in the experience of a proposed project.

Representatives from two of New Jersey’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations spoke about the data visualization tools that they have created and made available to local agencies to assist in planning. In his presentation “Web Maps, Open Data, and more!,” Christopher Pollard, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Council, described the data that the MPO has compiled for use in making regional planning decisions. He underscored the importance of accurate and reliable geospatial data as the basis for visualizations, and the MPO’s use of ESRI GIS mapping software to communicate this data. He discussed the datasets and interactive maps available to all the agency’s constituents, and provided detail on Travel Monitoring and Philly Freight Finder. He mentioned that the initial development of the data required a significant investment of time in order to make the data accessible. He added that the MPO will take on a limited number of data visualization projects needed by their constituents.

Gabrielle Fausel, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority presented on “Data Visualization in Transportation: GIS and Planning Tools at NJTPA,” and discussed NJTPA’s use of five visualization tools: ViZtools illustrates the various factors that support the Regional Transportation Plan; NOTIS shows how state and federal tax dollars are being invested in the transportation system in the NJTPA region; Freight Activity Locator provides an overview of goods movement activity in the region; County Profile Application, a mapping tool, provides county-level demographic data for the region; and Open Data Portal, which supplies publically available geospatial data. Ms. Fausel emphasized that the MPO made use of ESRI software that they had already purchased for other applications.

These speakers noted that they are always working to make the visualization process more efficient and enjoyable for the user. In response to an audience member’s question about how they deal with a tool that has incomplete or fuzzy data, they noted the need to: constantly update the data to look for the most complete information and to identify gaps; assess the data for reasonableness; request user feedback and provide references and disclaimers; and create visualizations of uncertainty in data. Before a tool is released to the public, there is internal testing, and a pilot test with a small external group. This is an iterative process, with trying and testing to develop useful tools.

Please see below for the presentations, as well as several simulation videos and links to data products that were presented during the event.


AASHTO Innovation Initiative, Interactive Visualization.

Alabama Department of Transportation Visualization Group.

Cambridge Systematics, Inc. Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies.


Nathan Higgins, AICP, Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Data Visualization in Transportation

Matt Taylor, PE, Alabama DOT, Visualizing Your Project

Nick Johnson, PE, PMP, CPM, AASHTO, Interactive Visualization

Christopher Pollard, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Council, Web maps, Open Data, and More!

Gabrielle Fausel, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, Data Visualization in Transportation: GIS and Planning Tools at NJTPA