The FHWA 2-D Hydraulic Modeling User’s Forum webinar series wrapped up on March 2, 2021 with a discussion of model controls and results, FHWA Resource Center opportunities, training opportunities, current software versions, resources, and FEMA guidance available. The tips and tricks segment provided an overview of the new 3D Bridge feature in SMS. The use of 2-D Hydraulic Modeling tools is promoted through the Every Day Counts Round 4 and 5 innovation Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE).
The FHWA A-GaME winter webinar series featured several topics highlighting proven, effective exploration method and practices for enhanced, effective site characterization that reduce project risks, improve quality and accelerate project delivery. Experts from the FHWA, state DOTs, industry and academia covered everything from the nuts and bolts of A-GaME methods to visualization and design.
FHWA has released the latest report card for Every Day Counts (EDC)-5 innovation deployment status among state Departments of Transportation. The goal of the EDC program is rapid technology transfer and accelerated deployment of innovation across the country. The program seeks to develop a culture of innovation through shared best practices, data, specifications, case studies, and success stories. The report card depicts the implementation stage (Not Implementing, Development, Demonstration, Assessment, Institutionalized) for each innovation by state. Detailed information on NJDOT’s work on these Innovative Initiatives can be found here.
FHWA recently announced the next two-year round of innovations, EDC-6. Work on these innovations will begin in January 2021. Information on the seven innovations promoted in this round can be found here.
On April 14, 2020, the NJDOT Bureau of Research hosted a Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar on "EDC-5 Weather-Responsive Management Strategies." This event featured a presentation by Ray Murphy, ITS Specialist with the FHWA's Resource Center. Under Round 5 of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program, FHWA promotes Weather-Responsive Management Strategies (WRMS) to manage traffic and road maintenance during inclement weather to improve safety and reliability, and minimize environmental impacts associated with weather events. Weather affects: traffic safety, with 21 percent of the nearly 6 million roadway crashes in the past decade related to weather; mobility, resulting in reduced efficiency and productivity; and environmental impacts on watersheds, air quality, and infrastructure.
Mr. Murphy provided examples of weather responsive practices being tried by state DOTs, including an advanced traveler information notification deployed by Iowa DOT.
Mr. Murphy described the prior-round, EDC-4 innovation, Road Weather Management – Weather-Savvy Roads, that formed the basis for this EDC-5 initiative. The innovation promoted data collection including Pathfinder, a collaboration between the National Weather Service, state DOTs, and state support contractors to provide weather information and forecasts, and Integrating Mobile Observations (IMO) that collects weather and road condition data from instruments on agency fleet trucks.
Through WRMS, FHWA promotes the use of mobile data to support decision making. Benefits to agencies include improved safety, system performance and operations, and reduced costs and environmental impacts. Agencies can use Weather Responsive Management Systems to address diverse internal needs such as staffing, material use, and route optimization, and condition and performance reporting. Data sources include transportation agency fleets, private vehicles, third party entities, agency operators, road users and infrastructure. Some data is collected by in-vehicle sensors, video and camera images, and automatic vehicle location. Other data sources include fixed Roadway Information System (RWIS), National Weather Service, reports from road users and operators, mobile observations and connected vehicle data, among others.
The traveling public benefits through safer pre-trip and real-time route decision making based on enhanced traveler information, roadside messaging, variable speed limits, and road lane closures or restrictions. Unified, localized, and more accurate messaging gives the public increased confidence in the messaging and the agency.
Mr. Murphy addressed some common challenges that agencies face in adopting this innovation, such as a lack of connectivity in remote areas, the need for buy-in from agency leadership and from road crews, hesitance to adopt the innovation, and funding.
Mr. Murphy highlighted recent initiatives undertaken by NJDOT related to Weather Responsive Management Strategies that have been funded in part through FHWA innovation grants.
He noted that the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive Program and STIC Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) grants can help fund implementation of these technologies. NJDOT received a STIC incentive funding grant to support pilot testing of technology used by the Safety Service Patrols. NJDOT was also awarded an AID Grant from FHWA to support a weather savvy roads pilot program, installing video camera dashboards and sensors onto NJDOT maintenance trucks and safety service patrol vehicles to collect streaming video and weather / pavement information to support road weather management throughout the state.
Webinar participants had an opportunity to pose questions of Mr. Murphy. One participant asked about possible resistance to installation of automatic vehicle locators due to privacy concerns. Mr. Murphy noted that agencies must operate openly and inclusively when implementing this technology. Training and education can help users become more accepting of the technology.
A participant asked about the use of IMO data versus information gathered from a public entity such as WAZE. Mr. Murphy responded that the agency receives the IMO data directly and can oversee the accuracy of the data, but that information should come from multiple sources to create a robust dataset.
When asked what agencies consider the biggest challenges, and what arguments can be used to support this innovation, Mr. Murphy responded that funding is always a concern but that buy-in is often the larger issue. He emphasized the need for a champion who can demonstrate the benefits of the strategies through performance measures.
When asked if specific applications of WRMS were being considered for EDC-6, Mr. Murphy responded that various innovative practices were being considered and no decisions had been made yet.
A participant asked if these systems can be adapted to rockfall data. Mr. Murphy noted that visibility apps used with dust storms or fire events could be adapted for other weather events.
Mr. Murphy’s presentation offered several examples of DOTs nationwide employing these strategies. A participant asked if any states are quantifying the benefits of WRMS implementation. Mr. Murphy offered that Caltrans is one agency.
The presentation given by Mr. Murphy can be downloaded here.
The second EDC-5 Progress Report summarizes the deployment progress of the 10 innovations in the fifth round of the the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts program for July through December, 2019. The EDC program coordinates the deployment of new strategies and technologies within State Departments of Transportation. These strategies help transportation stakeholders to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, and integrate automation to better serve the nation.
The national report analyzes each state’s implementation stages for the 10 innovations using charts and maps. The report also presents the number of states that have demonstrated, assessed, or institutionalized innovations, and presents goals for how many states should reach these stages by December 2020. New Jersey Department of Transportation has fully institutionalized Crowdsourcing for Operations, Project Bundling, and Unmanned Aerial Systems. The agency has reached the assessment stage for Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian, and the demonstration (testing and piloting) stage for Advanced Geotechnical Exploration Methods and Collaborative Hydraulics. Two other innovations are in the development phase.
FHWA compiles a progress report every six months regarding the state of practice for the current round of EDC initiatives. An online version of the EDC-5 Progress Report can be found here.
FHWA promotes virtual public involvement and other innovative public involvement tools through its Every Day Counts-5 innovations. FHWA notes several benefits of a robust public involvement process that employs technology to bring public involvement opportunities to people. These techniques tend to be more efficient and cost-effective, help to accelerate the project delivery process by identifying issues early in the process, ensure that the needs and desires of community members are heard in a collaborative process, and improve project quality by reaching individuals who might otherwise not be engaged.
FHWA is developing a series of short videos highlighting virtual public involvement tools, as well as other innovative strategies, in use at state and local transportation agencies. Approaches in use by New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) feature in several of these videos.
NJTPA used Set the Table, a meeting-in-a-box, to gather input from millennials for the agency’s long-range regional plan (Plan 2045). Individuals hosted small dinner parties for their peers (aged 18-30). Boxes, similar to pizza boxes, held snacks, and conversation cards on seven focus areas related to transportation. Twenty events were held, reaching over 200 individuals. Participants voiced an interest in staying involved in the planning process.
To supplement print and other media advertisement to gather public input for Plan 2045, NJTPA used online ads geo-targeted to the region. These ads invited people to participate in an online survey covering the Plan’s seven focus areas. The campaign reached 1.6 million people over six weeks and received a robust response. The agency found that this virtual engagement strategy not only reached people where they were, but helped to inform a large number of people about the transportation planning process and the agency.
In-person public engagement events continue to have real value. To encourage public involvement on the Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation project, NJDOT used pop-up outreach at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. During construction, lane closures on the highway would affect 35,000 regional commuters and local residents on a daily basis. Wishing to reach a local population, many of whom were unlikely to attend a community public involvement meeting, NJDOT brought the meeting to them. A booth presented information and displayed a piece of the deteriorating bridge to explain to children and adults the importance of the highway project.
In delivering these examples, FHWA emphasizes the need for transportation agencies to expand their outreach efforts to engage people in their everyday lives.
In June 2018, FHWA announced the fifth round of Every Day Counts Innovations (EDC-5). From September 10-26, 2018, the agency held Orientation Webinars, 90-minute sessions to introduce each EDC-5 innovation area. The EDC-5 website posted webinar recordings, factsheets, and presentation slides following each session.
Every two years, FHWA works with state departments of transportation and other public and private stakeholders to identify innovative technologies that merit widespread deployment. State Transportation Innovation Councils (STICs) in all fifty states then meet to evaluate these innovations and lead deployment efforts.
Innovations for EDC-5 include weather-responsive management strategies, collaborative hydraulics, rural roadway departures, advanced geotechnical exploration methods, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), virtual public involvement, use of crowdsourcing to advance operations, project bundling, Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP), and value capture of transportation.
In Fall 2018, transportation leaders and front-line professionals from across the country gathered at five Regional Summits to discuss the EDC-5 innovations, exchange ideas with industry counterparts, and provide feedback to FHWA on resources needed to support innovation adoption.
The NJDOT team attended the Regional Summit in Albany, New York. Following the summits, New Jersey finalized its selection of innovations, established performance goals for the level of implementation and adoption over the upcoming two-year cycle, and initiated its efforts to implement the innovations with the support and assistance of the technical teams established for each innovation.
In the Spring of 2019, the FHWA issued a summary report, EDC-5 Summit Summary and Baseline Report, that describes the Regional Summits and indicates the priority innovations for deployment being taken by the individual states.