Strategic Workforce Development: Preparing Justice-Impacted Individuals for Transportation, Engineering and Construction Careers

Strategic Workforce Development, an innovative initiative of the Every Day Counts Program, suggests the importance of fostering an environment and partnerships favorable to training programs, pre-apprenticeship programs, and support for women and minorities in the construction workforce, among other strategies. The Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP), housed in Rutgers’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), has provided several strategic workforce development programming to vulnerable populations in and around Camden, NJ. While the program supports a variety of individuals, a majority of those served are justice-impacted and from historically underserved or vulnerable populations. With the continued success of these services, RYSP has grown and developed, most recently starting a new program focused on enhancing employment access in the transportation, infrastructure, and construction fields, called PACE (Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education), sponsored by the Apprenticeship Office of NJDOL. The program has also taken a new name to reflect its expansion into serving adults and focusing more closely on employment: Rutgers Employment Success Program (RESP).

We interviewed Todd Pisani, the Training Director of Rutgers Employment Success Programs. Todd has been working for the past ten years on strategic workforce development programs for justice-impacted individuals in Camden, NJ. His work started with the creation of the Rutgers Youth Success Program and has developed into several Camden, New Brunswick, and South Jersey based programs focused on bridging employment gaps for justice-challenged individuals.

Q. Can you tell us about the Rutgers Employment Success Program?

A. The Rutgers Employment Success Program (previously the Rutgers Youth Success Program) supports up to 120 justice-impacted youth in and around Camden, NJ, with job readiness, career exposure, work experience, education, and legal services. The program addresses some of the challenges many young people face following involvement in the juvenile justice system, especially with employment and accessing education. The program is funded by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (NJDOL) and is a collaboration between Rutgers University and the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT).

Participants of the Rutgers Youth Success Program learn from field professionals about automotive repairs

By the end of 2024, we will be serving 400 individuals and hope to increase this number going forward. While the program began with serving young individuals, we have found that expanding into an older age cohort, 18+ years, has been successful. We work directly with vulnerable populations — for example, black and brown people, individuals from historically underserved communities, returning citizens, or otherwise justice impacted people — to address employment barriers. Our approach includes consideration and support for people with mental, behavioral, or psychiatric health challenges. In addition to our on-the-ground work, we advocate for the change of harmful systems that pose barriers to employment by initiating a change in language and policy that have historically slowed progress and support for the populations we serve.

Q. How did you get involved in the Rutgers Youth Success Program and what has kept you involved for the past 10 years? 

A. After several years as an employee affiliated with the Cooperative Extension program at Rutgers, Camden, we were successful in putting together a team that included Dr. Clifton Lacy, former Commissioner of Health and head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that attracted federal funding. That 1.2 million dollar longitudinal research project studied recidivism and violence among justice impacted youth over 3 years, and led me to collaborate with Rutgers CAIT. When a staffing change presented an opportunity, we were able to move the continuation of funding from Cooperative Extension to CAIT. The program remained consistent with its goals and mission and our support for individuals remains the same, but we have been able to expand the program and strengthen our ties to the engineering, transportation, and infrastructure realm.

Q. One of the goals of the Rutgers Employment Success Program is to address some of the barriers under-represented, or justice-challenged individuals face when pursuing a career. What do some of these barriers look like and how is this program targeting these? 

A. The barriers are baked into the system as a whole — and there are many organizations and even political movements that are working to change that trajectory. The most prevalent barriers include:

  • The outrageous and arbitrary time individuals must wait after incarceration to even be considered for some positions. We combat that by pushing for improved hiring policies, advocacy efforts in a variety of environments including discussions with trade unions, partnerships with community colleges and their affiliates, and developing relationships with specific employers and helping them see the value in hiring returning citizens.
  • Trauma and PTSD are common effects of incarceration and experience in the justice system. These conditions may make finding or receiving employment challenging and advocating for oneself even more so. We lead our program from a strengths-based trauma-informed approach, ensuring that everyone is treated with respect, honor, and dignity.
  • Justice-impacted individuals are often restricted from decision-making rooms. We utilize our privilege by inviting in justice-impacted leaders to rooms they often are kept from. We have several justice-impacted individuals on our team, so we lead by example. The resulting interactions with Judges, attorneys and law enforcement encourage human to human interactions and help those in power rethink their language and approaches.
  • Low exposure to higher education. We encourage individuals to dream and follow their professional interests. Our program also provides individuals with tours of colleges and supportive conversations, proving that it is a viable option for them.

Q. How has the Rutgers Employment Success Program been received by justice-challenged individuals? 

A. There are hits and misses, like any group of individuals. We hire people who are reflective culturally of the communities we serve — most of the team are black or brown people, including the team leads. We have several Spanish speakers on the team. And 2 have been justice impacted themselves, one a well-known community leader who spent over 30 years in prison for a crime committed as a teenager. He earned  his degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers while incarcerated as part of the NJ STEP (Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons) program, and has emerged as an amazing advocate for returning citizens, and has helped us link to the returning citizens  community in an authentic, immersive, and heartfelt way.

Our past participants have been extremely helpful with refining our practices by voicing their own experience and suggestions for improvements. Most recently we changed some of our intake paperwork to make it easier to access and friendlier, as requested. Participants have also identified system challenges, like the selective service status letter requirement which automatically creates a barrier for some. We really appreciate this feedback, and we also look to our sponsors for advice and suggestions.

Q. Are there any populations you are having difficulty reaching?

A. The population we serve is mostly minorities and men. We have promoted and recruited our programs across gender identities and have had female program coordinators. However, our most recent research project was a 90/10 split male to female. This is most likely a result of the gender disparity of justice-impacted youth; there are far less women and girls entangled by the justice-impacted world. We have engaged young women in our apprenticeship projects and have a black female instructor who teaches occupational safety and heavy equipment—she is very active and vocal about bringing women into the trades. Our hope is to encourage more women into the field; however, we don’t necessarily want more females to be impacted by justice. Since the NJDOL has infused the importance of targeting other populations into their grant opportunities by listing the variety of individuals traditionally harder to reach or less likely to consider the trades, we expect that employers and trade unions will follow suit and make diversity and inclusion a priority, if they haven’t already.

Q. Why are transportation and infrastructure important fields for the population you serve to connect to?

A. Many of our individuals we serve or have served identify hands-on work as appealing to them. They tend toward less office-based employment and more toward the trade industries, including transportation. Other fields of interest include construction, heavy equipment, offshore wind and other green energy solutions.

Q. Speaking of participant interest in construction and transportation careers, tell us about the new RYSP program, PACE.

A. The Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education program, or PACE, is an exciting new apprenticeship program that has recently been added to the suite of Rutgers Youth Success Program services. The program is modeled after past NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development models and will prepare participants with the necessary experience to apply for apprenticeships. Our program began in July 2023 and currently has funding for 30 participants from around the North Brunswick area. PACE goes beyond the foundational support that RYSP provides to disconnected or justice impacted youth, by increasing direct services to emerging adults 17-24 years old who are not immediately interested in or applying to college but would like to explore immediate career options.

Flyer for PACE Program Targeted to Heavy Equipment Operations

This program follows several successful programs through RESP, and in many cases incorporates the lessons learned from previous participants. Individuals not pursuing a degree following high school are often encouraged into service industry fields and healthcare, as preparation programs are more readily available. However, past participants have really expressed interest in hands-on skill training and work. Therefore, PACE is aiming to address this gap by establishing pathways for underserved populations to work in the transportation, infrastructure, or construction fields. In this case, participants will move through the Operating Engineers introductory curriculum, which includes:

  • 10 hours of on-the-job shadowing, with placement support through Hudson County Community College;
  • 30 hours of training to receive OSHA construction industry certification that will be provided by our long-standing partnership with Myers Crossing LLC.
  • Taking the Operating Engineers introductory course at Hudson County community College
  • Exposure and connections to Local 825, the International Union of Operating Engineers, which has a hands-on training facility and a training initiative with Hudson County Community College, its Earn and Learn Program.  

The goal is to expand the possible futures of each participant, allowing them to:

  • Begin an entry-level job in the transportation, infrastructure, or construction field.
  • Participate in a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Enroll in an educational program, like the Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies at Hudson County Community College

We anticipate making employment, apprenticeship, or full-time training or education quality placements   for at least 20 of our pre-apprentices in operating engineering by December 2024.

Debbie Myers of Myers Crossing, LLC instructing a PACE participant during an OSHA training session

We also have built a relationship with NJ Transit, NJDOT, and other large infrastructure related employers and are hopeful this will assist with job placements for younger people (18-19 years), which can be more challenging.

Q. In addition to the new PACE program, you are listed as the part of the lead research team for the EDC-7 Pilot Evaluation of Strategic Workforce Development for Justice-Challenged Youth research project. Could you tell us more about this work?

A. This is a very new research project, so I don’t have a lot to share yet. Our team will develop a set of best practices for strategic workforce development in the transportation and infrastructure fields using a nationwide survey of current workforce development programs that assist justice-impacted youth. The research is managed by the National Center for Infrastructure Transformation, led by Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and performed by Rutgers University and the Prairie View A&M. My hope is to strengthen our current efforts and support multiple projects through this project.

Q. What types of agencies will benefit from these best practices for Strategic workforce development? 

A. We are voting members of the Camden Youth Services Commission; each county has a version of this. The biggest benefactor for this research project will be the local youth justice system folks who are always seeking alternative methods for creating positive preventive and diversionary pathways as well as providing alternatives to detention or other punitive responses especially for young, justice-impacted individuals. Partner organizations that include the community colleges, Pathstone, Volunteer’s of America, and others will benefit from having access to a database of models for moving impacted young people into the workforce or training sectors. The transportation employer sectors, and other employers can benefit when presented with supportive data from other areas where these projects have found success. For example, if they are doing something amazing and successful in California that we can replicate and demonstrate its efficacy using data, it can potentially erode resistance and allow for larger organizations to overcome the risk factor and partner with organizations like Rutgers providing the support services to lean toward success for all. 

Q.  Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share?

Todd Pisani takes group selfie with participants and colleagues from the Youth Success Program.

A. We had an 82 percent benchmark attainment rate at the conclusion of the pilot Bridges program, which we are now in the first year of a 3-year continuation cycle. That project grew from serving 40 during the beginning of the pandemic when no in-person contact was allowed, to 100 served in the Camden area alone in 2022, and we are now on track to serving 120 in Camden and New Brunswick.

We have sought to successfully intertwine research and community-serving initiatives through multiple projects – our four NJDOL projects have been specifically project-based with no research specifically attached to them.  The EDC-7 Pilot Evaluation Study of Strategic Workforce Development for Justice-Challenged Youth, as well as others, can help to attract attention, provide reinforcement for our effort, and place the work itself into a scholarly context. We believe we can use the research to refine our projects, but also improve the design of research about the populations we serve.

Language is an important component of our work; for instance, we started using the term “justice impacted” instead of justice involved, primarily to demonstrate that nobody really wants to be “involved’ in justice world, and to plant the seed that there is an impact here that can shift the whole picture for many folks, especially black and brown individuals who have been disproportionately targeted and treated differently at all levels of the justice system, including in policing, sentencing structure and disciplinary policies in schools. Research helps solidify philosophical or observational notions, and provides an undergirding for the work itself, which for our implementation teams is the most important factor—helping to shift the trajectory for a young person, or an older individual for that matter. 


Resources

Rutgers Youth Success Program
https://cait.rutgers.edu/facilities-equipment/rutgers-youth-success-program/

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 7, Strategic Workforce Development
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_7/strategic_workforce_development.cfm

Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development
https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/workforce-development/index.html

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825
http://www.iuoe825.org/

NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development
https://njworkforce.org

Camden Youth Services Commission
Youth Services Commission | Camden County, NJ

National Center for Infrastructure Transformation Prairie View
National Center for Infrastructure Transformation (NCIT) – Led by Prairie View A&M University (pvamu.edu)

Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies at Hudson County Community College
Technical Studies AAS (hccc.edu)

Operating Engineers Local 825 Earn and Learn Program
825 Earn and Learn

For information on current workforce development programs see:

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

NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities
https://njpathways.org/centers-of-workforce-innovation/

For information on re-entry support programs in New Jersey visit: Governor’s Reentry Training & Employment Center NJRC (njreentry.org)

For information on re-entry support for women, visit: The_Womens_Project_2023.pdf (njreentry.org)

WEBINAR: Traveler Information and Traffic Incident Management: Crowdsourcing Course

Since 2019, the FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Innovation, Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations, has been supporting the adoption of crowdsourced data and tools to advance transportation operations across 35+ States and their local agencies to improve traffic incident, road weather, work zone, traffic signal, traveler information, and emergency management, along with a host of other ITS and TSMO practices.

The Crowdsourcing Innovation Team in collaboration with the ITS Joint Program Office (JPO) Professional Capacity Building (PCB) Program delivered this introductory Crowdsourcing course, one in series of webinars, featuring State and local practitioner perspectives.

On July 18, 2023, Sal Cowan, NJDOT’s Senior Director of Mobility served as one of the course instructors for Traveler Information and Traffic Incident Management, the third session in a webinar series targeted to transportation professionals with an interest in or responsibility for the management and operations of roadway systems. Mr. Cowan delivered instruction on how crowdsourcing can be used to enhance traveler information. He shared examples of how some leading state transportation agencies (e.g., Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Pennsylvania) are using various crowdsourcing platforms for communicating traveler information. Mr. Cowan then spoke at greater length about New Jersey’s Travel Information Systems, highlighting the state’s initiatives for Commercial Vehicle Notifications, 511 Platforms and Voice Assistant Systems, and Crowdsourced Data, among other topics.

Mr. Cowan was joined by two other featured speakers and the event’s host, Ralph Volpe, EDC-6 Crowdsourcing Program Co-Lead, who moderated the capacity-building webinar.

Vaishali Shah, AEM Corporation, Support Lead for the FHWA EDC-5/6 Crowdsourcing Innovation, gave an introduction to the Traffic Incident Management topic and described the components and challenges of State and local TIM systems. She shared several examples of how crowdsourced data is being used to enhance Traffic Incident Management (TIM) around the U.S..

Mr. Cowan explained the rationale for crowdsourcing to improve traveler information and shared examples of how its being used in select states, including New Jersey.
Ms. Shah explained how crowdsourcing applications were being used to enhance TIM and shared some examples of innovative state and local deployments nationally.

John Parker, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), Senior Traffic Operations Project Manager, then described the PTC’s Traffic Incident Management and Traveler Information initiatives. In his talk, he described various examples of data-sharing providers and partnerships, touching upon technology platforms, dashboard features, operating challenges, and new partnering opportunities being considered by the PTC and the state of Pennsylvania to enhance crowdsourcing for TIM and Traveler Information.

More information on this webinar training event can be found here, including a recording of the webinar, the presentation, transcript, and the question and answers that closed out the training event.

Strategic Workforce Development: A Follow-Up Conversation with Hudson County Community College and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825

The Earn & Learn program was funded by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant through the NJ Department of Labor.
The IUOE has named the hybrid apprentice program “Earn and Learn.” The first student cohort began class in January 2022.

Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 and 7 innovation, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies, and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction, and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. The recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector is integral to the initiative. Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping the future workforce, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

We spoke with Lori Margolin, the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and Greg LaLevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 for an update on their apprenticeship program entitled Earn & Learn.

Earn & Learn Program Background

The IUOE Earn & Learn program is an advanced manufacturing initiative supported by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant. HCCC and IUOE Local 825 established the program in November 2021 through an articulation agreement. The program gives students the opportunity to be dually enrolled in the union apprenticeship program and HCCC, where they will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits.

During an 18-month period, participants earn 30 credits from on-the-job training and education provided by the union and are scheduled to earn the other 30 credits from HCCC over five semesters. They attend HCCC part-time, taking two classes per semester and earning six credits per semester on average.  All classes are offered in a virtual modality.

Q. The Earn & Learn program has been operating for a little over one year. How is program implementation going so far?

IUOE 825 will continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with HCCC and other higher education institutions.
HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet a diversity of needs.

A. Implementing the program with this first cohort of students has been a learning experience for both the HCCC and IUOE Local 825, as this initiative is the first of its kind. Program implementation is going well overall, with challenges noted below. Twenty-four of the 30 students initially accepted into the program remain enrolled. Factors influencing departures included health issues and struggles for some with the academic or other program requirements. The program is on-track to initiate a second round of applications later this year for the spring 2024 semester.

Q. Are you making modifications to either the academic component or the hands-on training based on your experience in the first year of implementation?

A.  As initially planned, students would earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits. However, we have reconfigured the degree to more closely align with the construction industry; students will earn a degree in Technical Studies with a construction concentration.

The course work has been altered to be more directly relevant to the construction industry and to what students are learning at IUOE Local 825. For example, we have replaced some of the math and science courses more directly aligned with the HCCC construction management course work.

While all participants take the same coursework, some modifications are available to accommodate students on different pathways. For example, a student seeking to continue their studies at a four-year university should likely take a Calculus course, whereas those not wishing to continue their education beyond an Associate Degree may opt for other available math courses.

Q. What have been the key challenges you have encountered so far in the program implementation? How have you addressed those challenges?

The IUOE Training Center offers simulations to prepare for operating in-field equipment.

A. One of the main challenges can be scheduling as students must meet the demands of their on-the-job training, as well as their classroom instruction requirements. Construction jobs may be located far from one’s residence and/or require off-peak work hours, which compounds this scheduling challenge.

Many of the participants have not had recent experience with balancing academic demands with on-the-job training. Many of the students are 25 years of age or older and have not been enrolled in school for several years. For such students, re-entering the classroom can be a “culture shock,” and requires them to learn how to prioritize academic studies.

This is often an issue in adult learning so both a HCCC Student Success Coach and the IUOE Local 825 chief academic officer are vital partners in the program. Many HCCC initiatives include a Student Success Coach as a best practice to provide adult students with additional supports with navigating the college in terms of scheduling, instruction, and identifying resources to address other demands so they can attain success. The Student Success Coach often functions as a student advocate and navigator. The value of the Student Success Coach to the Earn & Learn program must be emphasized.

Q. What have been some key takeaways and lessons learned so far with the program?

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

A. Creating connections among the student cohort has been an important and contributing factor to students’ ongoing success. Students have been able to develop relationships virtually through class, as well as through the Earn & Learn in-person orientation. We also convened an in-person meeting with students after the first semester to discuss issues and challenges with the Earn & Learn program. The students receive both academic and emotional support and camaraderie from one another and benefit from cohort learning.

Also vital to identifying and addressing program challenges has been the open and clear communication channels established and nurtured between the HCCC Student Success Coach and the IUOE Local 825 chief academic officer.

We have learned that overall program flexibility is key as well. For example, to give students the greatest scheduling flexibility and to accommodate diverse comfort levels, they are given some choice with how their HCCC academic instruction is delivered. Specifically, for some classes student can take asynchronous online classes, or opt for synchronous instruction with a live instructor.

Q. What benefits have been achieved so far from the Earn & Learn program?

A. Many students are surpassing their own expectations for their performance in the program, which is wonderful to experience. As one student shared, “I didn’t think I could do school again.” Most are maintaining high GPAs. I feel that the personal growth experienced by these students will also translate into them becoming better members in the IUOE union and better employees.

Q. Are you aware of any other similar programs generating interest in the construction trade?

Students get “hands-on” time for operating heavy equipment at the IUOE Training Facility.

A. The Earn & Learn program is a bit unique. However, I believe the Carpenter’s Union is working on something with the state Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and they are referring to their training centers as technical colleges. Some of the other construction trades also have arrangements with higher education institutions, such as with Thomas Edison State University.

Other Construction-Focused Career Initiatives

Q. During our interview last year, the goal of bridging the gap between student age when graduating Vo-Tech (17 years) and entry into an apprenticeship (age 18 required) was discussed. You were trying to arrange for a direct entry from Middlesex County Vo-Tech to a union apprenticeship with IUOE Local 825. Have you gotten any traction on that effort? Are there other construction-focused career initiatives you want to bring to our attention?

A. Opportunities are never lost! We continue to work on advancing this goal with Middlesex County Vo-Tech of bridging student age when graduating Vo-Tech and apprenticeship entry with us. The Vo-Tech’s East Brunswick campus is located 2.5 miles from the IUOE Local 825 training center, so there is a genuine opportunity here for those students.

Ocean County has a heavy equipment program in their Vo-Tech and we [IUOE Local 825] had an initial meeting to learn more about that effort. We also had some of their students come to our training center for a site visit.

There are other exciting education-focused initiatives happening as well. For example, Local 825’s sister organization located in the Midwest has developed a mathematics curriculum for high school students that local districts can use. The curriculum speaks to how the student would resolve math questions as an operating engineer. IUOE Local 825’s academic officer is working to bring that curriculum to New Jersey, perhaps in collaboration with the non-profit Junior Achievement organization, which is focused on developing youth skills to promote economic success.

An innovative Rutgers initiative led by the Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP) in partnership with Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) recently received new funding through a PACE grant. The RYSP program will seek to place under-represented and justice-challenged young people in transportation and infrastructure careers. The grant will support development of a pre-apprenticeship program for Operating Engineers. HCCC will be the training partner for this 18-month program.

Middlesex County is home not only to Rutgers and IUOE Local 825, but also to many of the construction equipment dealers such as John Deere, Caterpillar, and Komatsu. However, there remains limited interaction between all these potential partners to discuss opportunities to diversify and strengthen the construction workforce.

Q. HCCC is a co-leader with Rowan College in the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation. Can you give us a brief update on that work? Do you collaborate directly with Rowan on these initiatives and, if yes, in what way?

A. This Construction Center of Workforce is part of the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities (NJ Pathways), a collaborative program between the NJ Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. Year one work has been completed. There are ten centers for workforce innovation, including one focused on construction. HCCC is the administrative lead along with Rowan College of South Jersey for the construction innovation.

The Construction Center of Workforce is one of ten workforce centers partnering with the state’s community colleges.

HCCC’s efforts related to the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation, as well as through several other initiatives including the Earn & Learn Program, helped focus our successful work to expand the offerings in our construction management program. We have had an Associate Degree in construction management for a while, and now we also offer a one-year academic certificate requiring 34 credits and 2 proficiency certificates in either construction administration or construction technology requiring 13 or 14 credits. We also offer seven-to-nine individual courses that offer certification in specific areas of construction management. Students can opt to take one or two courses or all the offerings. If students opt to take these offerings as a noncredit course, they can transfer or articulate for credit in the HCCC Construction Management academic certificate or degree program.

HCCC also offers the opportunity to earn a National Institute of Certified Engineers and Technicians (NICET) certificate for the field of Asphalt Testing and other similar offerings, all of which have been very popular. In all, by offering these different degree and non-degree options, students are afforded flexibility to acquire skills that best meets their career advancement goals. This work also helps us advance equity goals as well, as students can learn at their own pace and effectively build their own career pathway beginning where they wish to start.

Q. Do you see any ways that NJDOT’s Civil Rights, Human Resources, or other units could engage with you to advance programs in NJ?

A. The State and NJDOT are seeking greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the construction field and on job sites. To achieve this goal, we need to operationalize strategies that will encourage greater diversity among persons who are considering construction as a viable career path and who may apply for construction jobs. Incremental progress in this regard is possible if we work together. We must look beyond meeting a requirement for a specific number of diverse workers on a job site – instead we should focus attention on developing a plan to generate overall interest in the field and set mid-point goals toward achieving that plan.

On another note, generating interest for a career in heavy equipment operations among youth, especially among youth living in urban areas, is challenging as these individuals often have little exposure to our trade compared to those who reside in more rural areas and who may have experience or familiarity with farm and other heavy equipment. Working with the Junior Achievement organization may provide another pathway for us to identify a new generation of prospective heavy equipment operators and other construction workers.

We would welcome opportunities to sit at the table with NJDOT to advance careers in construction and are open to developing and refining training and education programs to meet the diverse needs of the workforce.


Resources

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 7, Strategic Workforce Development
https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/swd/

Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development
https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/workforce-development/index.html

Hudson County Community College Center for Construction Management
https://www.hccc.edu/programs-courses/academic-pathways/stem/center-for-construction-management.html

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825
http://www.iuoe825.org/

NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development
https://njworkforce.org

NJ Department of Labor, NJ PLACE 2.0 Grants
https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200131_njplace.shtml

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

NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities
https://njpathways.org/centers-of-workforce-innovation/

Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP)
https://cait.rutgers.edu/facilities-equipment/rutgers-youth-success-program/

FHWA Issued its EDC-7 Summit Summary and Baseline Report

FHWA recently released its EDC-7 Summit Summary and Baseline Report that can be found here.

EDC-7 Summit Summary and Baseline Report includes information on each states plan to advance the innovations being promoted in Round 7.

The Report highlights the Every Day Counts innovations that FHWA is promoting in the program’s seventh round (EDC-7) and includes the baseline deployment status of the innovations at the beginning of 2023 and the goals for adoption set by each of the states over the two year, 2023-2024 period.

The report also shares highlights from the EDC-7 Virtual Summit held in February 2023, including remarks from transportation leaders given during the summit’s opening sessions on the three focus areas of EDC-7—improving safety for all users, building sustainable infrastructure, and growing an inclusive workforce.

The NJ STIC’s baseline assessment of its deployment status for the innovations being advanced by its Core Innovation Area (CIA) Teams during Round 7 can be found in the FHWA report.  Click the “EDC-7” button on our NJ STIC Innovative Initiatives page to learn more about the priority innovations, goals for deployment and planned activities for Round 7.

Every Day Counts (EDC) is the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) program to advance a culture of innovation in the transportation community in partnership with public and private stakeholders. Through this State-based effort, FHWA coordinates rapid deployment of proven strategies and technologies to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, and integrate automation.

NJ’s Saw Cut Vertical Curb Featured Innovation on AASHTO Webinar

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies in 2022. AASHTO held a webinar on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 during which NJDOT practitioners and contractors offered their first-hand experience with implementing the saw-cutting method on their projects successfully. The innovation was also recognized as the NJ’s Build a Better Mousetrap Winner in 2022 and a video description of the innovation can be found here.

Below is a reprint of the AASHTO Innovation Initiative Page that features the Saw Cut Vertical Curb and can be accessed here.

NJDOT’s Saw Cut Vertical Curb is featured as an AASHTO Innovation Initiative.

The AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) establishes uniform standards for the installation of roadway safety features, including longitudinal barriers. In accordance with the recent MASH standards, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has updated the installation requirements for guide rails. Per this new requirement, curbs in front of and along guide rail end terminal treatments should be limited to a maximum 2-inch exposure. The typical exposure of existing curbs is four inches. To make guide rail installation MASH compliant, the conventional practice is to remove existing curbs and replace them with 2-inch curbs. The practice typically requires seven days of field operations for the removal, replacement, and curing of concrete.  Not only does this timeframe add to labor costs, but also exposes work crews and motorists to work zone traffic for longer periods of time.

NJDOT has developed an innovative method in which the existing curbs can be saw cut to two inches in lieu of removal and replacement. The existing guide rail can remain in place during saw-cutting, while the construction crew can return at a later time to remove and upgrade the guide rail. The saw-cutting approach requires only two days of labor. The process uses a power-driven vertical curb saw fitted with horizontally-oriented, diamond-edge blades or abrasive wheels that are capable of sawing to the required dimensions without causing uncontrolled cracking. The saw is water-cooled, circular, and has alignment guides. The saw is also capable of immediately collecting the slurry produced from cutting the concrete. Traffic control in work areas requires a moving operation set up that includes channelizer barrels and drums, construction signs based on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and DOT standard details, and a truck with a mounted crash cushion.

Resources

Contact Information

Gary Liedtka–Bizuga
Senior Engineer Transportation Design Services
(609)963-2525
gary.liedtka-bizuga@dot.nj.gov

Henry Jablonski
Senior Engineer Transportation Construction Services And Materials
(973)714-1929
henry.jablonski@dot.nj.gov​​​​​​​​

Saw Cut Vertical Curb Webinar

Do you have to reduce the curb height to make the longitudinal barriers compliant with AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) requirements?

Join AASHTO for an information-packed webinar with New Jersey Department of Transportation on how saw-cutting is used in curb retrofitting to make longitudinal barrier installations compliant with new requirements in a safer, more cost-effective, and more efficient manner.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies in 2022.  More info about the about the AII award and the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation can be found here.

AASHTO’s webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 2:00 pm EDT.  Register HERE

NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Sawcut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.

NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Saw Cut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.

During this free webinar, participants will engage with NJDOT practitioners and contractors who have first-hand experience in implementing the saw-cutting method on their projects successfully.

Discussion will include:
  • Benefits of saw-cutting vertical curbs
  • Implementation considerations
  • Successes and lessons learned
  • Resources to get you started
Lead States Team Expert Presenters and Panelists

Gary Liedtka-Bizuga, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Henry Jablonski, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Peter Harry, Jr., ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.
Rick Berenato, ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.

Click to learn more about the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation and the New Jersey Build a Better Mousetrap program.

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair

What is UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair?

Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) is a new material for bridge construction that has become popular for field-cast connections between prefabricated bridge elements. Bridge preservation and repair (P&R) is an emerging and promising application for UHPC. UHPC-based repair solutions are robust, and offer superior strength, durability, and improved life-cycle cost over traditional methods. State and local agencies can deploy UHPC for bridge preservation and repair to maintain or improve bridge conditions.

Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) offers enhanced durability and improved life-cycle cost performance for bridge preservation and repair.

Keeping bridges in a state of good repair is essential to keeping the transportation system operating efficiently. Agencies at all levels can deploy UHPC for bridge preservation and repair to maintain or improve bridge conditions cost effectively.

Stronger Repairs, Extended Service Life

Because of its strength and durability, UHPC can be an optimum solution for some repairs. UHPC can be used in situations that normally use conventional concrete or repair mortars, and in some cases those that use structural steel. Some UHPC mixes gain strength rapidly, so bridges could be opened to traffic 24 hours after completing the necessary repairs. Additionally, UHPC repairs are long lasting and resilient, requiring less maintenance and fewer follow-up repairs than conventional methods. In some cases, they can outlive and outperform their conventional counterparts—UHPC repairs could be the strongest and most durable part of the bridge.

Benefits

Versatility. UHPC can generally be used anywhere other types of concrete would be used, and due to its strength and durability, it can be the optimum material for many applications.

Durability. UHPC-based repairs are long-lasting and require less maintenance and fewer follow-up repairs.

Cost Savings. UHPC repairs can outlive and outperform their conventional counterparts, resulting in life-cycle cost savings. UHPC bridge deck overlays and link slabs can extend the service life of bridges well beyond that of traditional preservation and repair strategies.

Learn more about this EDC-6 Innovation.

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair in NJ

Stage of Innovation:
ASSESSMENT
(December 2022)

Using UHPC. NJDOT completed construction of two bridge preservation projects in 2020. From its assessment of information on performance and usability from these pilot projects, which include four bridges using UHPC overlay, the agency considers further implementation promising. UHPC is excellent for preservation and is being considered for additional deployments. UHPC has been shown to increase service life but is currently more expensive than other methods. More widespread use/experience may reduce cost. The first UHPC link slab application is in the construction phase. Additional UHPC Link-Slab applications are currently in the Final Design Phase. 

Communicating UHPC Information on Bridge Preservation & Repair. The State participated in workshops, webinars, and peer exchanges related to UHPC for Bridge P&R, including:

  • NJDOT Hosted FHWA Workshop UHPC EDC-6 P&R
  • International Bridge Conference Poster Session
  • NYSDOT UHPC Link-slab Peer Exchange 2022
  • ABC December 2022 presentation and paper
  • NJ STIC Meeting, 4th Quarter 2022

What’s Next?

The Future of UHPC for Bridge Preservation & Repair (P&R). The agency anticipates incorporating UHPC for bridge preservation and repair in its new design manual, using data collected from the current pilots and will further investigate performance and examine life cycle costs. NJDOT will use these indicators to determine future usage and applicability with additional research through the Bridge Research Program.

Industry experience in UHPC applications is not keeping up with agency goals. UHPC is not yet standardized for operational use which leads to a lack of consistency in the applied product, a lack of UHPC repair materials and methods, and significantly higher initial cost. Material and labor for UHPC are currently more expensive than traditional bridge preservation techniques. UHPC is used for repair projects that were not pre-planned; contractors may not have the experience or comfort with using the material. The material can be difficult to work with, and contractors need training.

However, the extension in bridge life span may result in a good return on investment. The programming/funding authority may need to address the issue of allowing UHPC higher costs into a project budget.

Further research and a possible pooled fund project would be beneficial to increase knowledge.

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NEW & NOTEWORTHY 

Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey – An Update

Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey – An Update

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair is a model innovation that was featured in FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program (EDC-6).  UHPC is recognized as an ...
Presentation: Design, Construction, and Evaluation of UHPC Bridge Deck Overlays for NJDOT

Presentation: Design, Construction, and Evaluation of UHPC Bridge Deck Overlays for NJDOT

NJDOT recently installed UHPC Bridge Deck overlays on four bridges. NJDOT engineers explained the rationale for UHPC and highlighted key lessons in bridge selection, existing ...
UHPC Bridge Preservation and Repair – NJ Efforts Highlighted

UHPC Bridge Preservation and Repair – NJ Efforts Highlighted

The FHWA's EDC Newsletter of April 28th highlighted a project to test UHPC bridge preservation materials, in partnership with Rutgers University Below is a reprint ...
Stronger, More Resilient Bridges: Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey

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

How the emerging innovation of Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) is being implemented in New Jersey. ...
Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NJDOT Example Featured

Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NJDOT Example Featured

The FHWA's EDC News Weekly Newsletter featured how NJDOT has applied UHPC for bridge preservation and repair. ...
EDC-4 Final Report Highlights Innovations

EDC-4 Final Report Highlights Innovations

The EDC-4 Final Report highlights the results of round four of the Every Day Counts program to rapidly deploy proven innovations to enhance the transportation ...

Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS)

What is Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS)?

Solutions for integrating innovative overlay procedures into practices that can improve performance, lessen traffic impacts, and reduce the cost of pavement ownership.

Approximately half of all infrastructure dollars are invested in pavements, and more than half of that investment is in overlays. By enhancing overlay performance, state and local highway agencies can maximize this investment and help ensure safer, longer-lasting roadways for the traveling public.

Improved Pavements that Last Longer

Many of the pavements in the nation's highway system have reached or are approaching the end of their design life. These roadways still carry daily traffic that often far exceeds their initial design criteria. Overlays are now available for both asphalt and concrete pavements that enable agencies to provide long-life performance under a wide range of traffic, environmental, and existing pavement conditions.

Concrete overlays now benefit from performance-engineered mixtures, including thinner-bonded and unbonded overlays with fiber reinforcement, interlayer materials, and new design procedures that improve durability and performance. Asphalt overlay mixtures have also advanced significantly with the use of stone-matrix asphalt (SMA), polymer-modified asphalt (PMA), and other materials and agents that reduce rutting, increase cracking resistance, and extend pavement life.

Benefits

Safety. Thousands of miles of rural and urban pavements need structural enhancement and improved surface characteristics, such as smoothness, friction, and noise. Targeted overlay pavement solutions can improve the condition of highways significantly in a relatively short time.

Cost Savings. Timely and well-designed overlay applications are consistently cost-effective because less subsurface work is required. In urban areas, impacts to utilities and pedestrian facilities are minimized.

Performance. Targeting overlay solutions to high-maintenance areas such as intersections, bus lanes, ramps, and curved alignments can pay immediate dividends in terms of reduced maintenance needs, fewer work zones, and improved safety.

Learn more about this EDC-6 Innovation.

TOPS in NJ

Stage of Innovation:
DEMONSTRATION
(December 2022)

New Jersey has been a leader in Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS). The following activities occurred in under previous EDC rounds:

High-Performance Thin Overlay (HPTO). NJDOT incorporated HPTO into its standard specifications and has used it for the preservation of good pavement and as the surface course on some composite pavement overlays. HPTO is also used by the Structural Design unit for bridge deck overlay.

Crack Attenuating Mixture. NJDOT incorporated this into its standard specifications and has used it for the intermediate course on some composite pavement overlays followed by SMA surface course.

Stone Matrix Asphalt (SMA). NJDOT incorporated SMA into standard specifications and has used it for the surface course on high traffic pavement, for the surface course on some composite pavement overlays, and over top of BRIC mix as overlay of composite pavements.

Asphalt Rubber Gap-Graded (ARGG). NJDOT incorporated ARGG into its standard specifications and has used it for the surface and/or intermediate course on some composite pavement overlays.

Open-Graded Friction Course (OGFC). NJDOT incorporated OGFC into its standard specifications and has used it for full depth porous asphalt pavements in outside shoulders, parking lots, pathways, sidewalks and other low traffic pavements.

Ultra-Thin Bonded Wearing Course (UTBWC) / Ultra-Thin Friction Course (UTFC). NJDOT incorporated UTFC into its standard specifications and used it for preservation of good pavement and for the surface course on some resurfacing pavement overlays.

What’s Next?

The Rt.42 Pavement Preservation project, using Ultra-HPTO / Highly Modified Asphalt (HiMA), is in construction. The Department plans to monitor closely and analyze the pros and cons of utilizing this type of asphalt mixture on NJ concrete pavements.

NJDOT Pavement Management unit procured new skid testing equipment in 2022. Skid testing was done for 9 projects by NJDOT Pavement Management unit on High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST)sections. Skid testing by the NJDOT Pavement Management unit on high friction surface treatment sections and alternative enhanced friction overlay (EFO) sections will continue using the new equipment.  There are plans to test, analyze, and monitor skid test results to advise the department on future development and use of enhanced friction overlay treatments. The Department is also working with an academic partner to perform companion testing of these friction test sections with a Dynamic Friction Tester (DFT) unit.

Ultra High Performance Thin Overlay is included in one project (UPC 213090). Specification is finalized and the item number has been created.

Compilation and analysis of all data on the different Enhanced Friction overlay surfaces, will lead to better information for NJDOT staff and others on the recommended use and practices with EFOs. Skid test equipment function and calibration are critical to collecting and analyzing the data. Other test methods will be explored.

Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS): NEW & NOTEWORTHY 

Targeted Overlay Payment Solutions (TOPS): NJDOT Example Featured

Targeted Overlay Payment Solutions (TOPS): NJDOT Example Featured

The FHWA's EDC News Weekly Newsletter featured NJDOT's use of HPTO as a cost-effective pavement preservation tool. ...
Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: NJDOT’s Pavement Support Program—Goals, Deliverables and the Future

Lunchtime Tech Talk! WEBINAR: NJDOT’s Pavement Support Program—Goals, Deliverables and the Future

Dr. Thomas Bennert, who leads the Pavement Support Program (PSP), discussed how the group's research supports NJDOT's efforts to improve pavements across the state. ...
Pavement Preservation Treatments at NJDOT

Pavement Preservation Treatments at NJDOT

This video features the work that the NJDOT Pavement and Drainage Management and Technology Unit is doing to advance Pavement Preservation treatments on state roads to increase ...
Paving the Way to Better Roads at Lower Costs

Paving the Way to Better Roads at Lower Costs

Pavement preservation is just one example among many of how NJDOT is committed to keeping New Jersey’s roadways in a state of good repair and ...
Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Asphalt Pavement Preservation at Construction and Use Stages Using Life Cycle Assessment

Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Asphalt Pavement Preservation at Construction and Use Stages Using Life Cycle Assessment

A recent study found that pavement preservation techniques can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to savings for both transportation agencies and drivers. ...

Strategic Workforce Development

What is Strategic Workforce Development (EDC-6)?

The demand for highway construction, maintenance, and operations workers is growing while industry is experiencing a revolution of emerging technologies that will require new skills. To attract and retain workers in the contractors' workforce, new resources are available to help compete with other industries and demonstrate the value of a career in transportation.

An Industry and Public Workforce Collaboration

Government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies, and communities nationwide need new, collaborative approaches to meeting this challenge. The nation depends on the highway system, and the highway system depends on qualified workers.

Additionally, increasing the contractors' construction workforce can help communities thrive while solving one of today's most persistent national transportation problems. It also offers an opportunity to recruit minorities and women to jobs that can change their lives, and the lives of their families, for the better.

Benefits
Effective Solutions. Advancing the lessons learned through the highway construction workforce pilot offers the transformational ideas and support needed to fill the gaps in the workforce.

Proven Training. Training programs, practices, and tools from across the country are available to help plan workforce development activities.

Flexibility. Free materials are available to support workforce marketing efforts. Posters, flyers, mailer cards, and social media graphics can be customized with local contact information.

Learn more about this EDC-6 Innovation.

NJ Advances Strategic Workforce Development

Stage of Innovation:
ASSESSMENT
(December 2022)

New Jersey is utilizing diverse strategies to develop the state's transportation workforce:

Apprenticeship Program.  Has an operations apprenticeship program that is currently in the implementation stage. NJDOT has a one-year training program that includes testing as trainees move through the system.

Professional Programs. NJDOT has expanded outreach to draw attention to its professional series positions by partnering with high schools, vocational-technical schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, and the Department of Labor; working with under-represented communities of interest; expanding its social media presence; and building its pipeline and knowledge base that allows growth into the journeyman title.

What's Next? 

In September 2021, NJDOT participated in an FHWA pilot, Let’s Go! Workshop. In this 2-day workshop, NJDOT participants developed a Mission Statement – “To create career opportunities for a diverse workforce in terms of disciplines, demographics, and career levels in order to meet the demands of the transportation skills of tomorrow".  The workshop participants defined a set of priority actions, including:  Industry Association Outreach; Goal, Measures, Timeline, Buy-In; Regular Meetings and Follow-up Actions; and College/University Outreach.

Since then, NJDOT has continued to seek partnerships with national and local organizations to support hiring efforts and to acquire best practice information. The NJDOT Civil Rights programs has sought to perform outreach in underserved communities and pursue a NJDOT leadership training effort. NJDOT is also exploring potential development of a training program for construction inspection/maintenance.

During this period, interviews were conducted with HR staff about early stages of institutionalizing an apprenticeship program. Engagement activities were held to facilitate connections with Industry Association and Higher Education Institutions (e.g., Union, Workforce Development Boards and County College).

The Strategic Workforce Development Working Group convened to formulate a Department-Wide Mentorship Program; identify Emerging Skillset needs with Partners; and continue Industry Association and College/University Outreach activities.  Research into best practices for identifying emerging skillsets and incorporating these considerations into mentoring programs could assist the advancement of this initiative.

Strategic Workforce Development: NEW & NOTEWORTHY

Strategic Workforce Development: Preparing Justice-Impacted Individuals for Transportation, Engineering and Construction Careers

Strategic Workforce Development: Preparing Justice-Impacted Individuals for Transportation, Engineering and Construction Careers

We interviewed Todd Pisani, the Training Director of Rutgers Employment Success Programs. Todd has been working for the past ten years on strategic workforce development ...
Strategic Workforce Development: A Follow-Up Conversation with Hudson County Community College and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825

Strategic Workforce Development: A Follow-Up Conversation with Hudson County Community College and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825

We spoke with Lori Margolin, the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and Greg LaLevee, Business ...
Strategic Workforce Development Online Recordings & Presentations

Strategic Workforce Development Online Recordings & Presentations

Strategic Workforce Development is one of FHWA’s seven initiatives promoted through the sixth round of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program. Key emphasis is on ...
Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: <strong>NJDOT’s Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program</strong>

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: NJDOT’s Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program

We interviewed Chrystal Section, Supervisor of the Non-Discrimination Programs Unit in the NJDOT’s Division of Civil Rights and Affirmative Action, about the department's efforts to ...
Exploring Strategic Workforce Development – Model Programs, Partnerships and Lessons from Oregon

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development – Model Programs, Partnerships and Lessons from Oregon

We spoke with representatives from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) to explore their roles and partnership in ...
Exploring Strategic Workforce Development:  An Interview with NJDOT’s Human Resources

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: An Interview with NJDOT’s Human Resources

We spoke with Kelly Hutchinson, Director, Human Resources at NJDOT about ongoing and planned workforce development initiatives at NJDOT. ...

Digital As-Builts

Highway construction projects produce massive amounts of valuable data. Historically, information such as materials tickets and as-built plans were communicated via paper. Today’s transportation agencies are improving on these paper processes by integrating them into electronic and digital workflows. While electronic ticketing (e-Ticketing) improves the tracking, exchange, and archiving of materials tickets, digital as-builts, and other digital information such as 3D design models and other metadata, can enhance the value of contract documents and the future usability of the as-built plans for operations, maintenance, and asset management. Both can increase project safety and quality through efficient data gathering and sharing.

What are Digital As-Builts?

Using digital data such as 3D models to build road projects is becoming an industry standard. Sharing the design model and associated digital project data allows agencies and contractors to streamline project delivery and contract administration and to collaborate on challenges “virtually” before they get to the field. The digital information is further leveraged when the model is updated, and other data incorporated, to reflect the project’s as-built condition for future maintenance, asset management, and rehabilitation activities.

Benefits

Safety. Construction using digital information can lead to safer projects and shorter work zone traffic impacts.

Time Savings. Digital information provided to construction enhances planning and can streamline project delivery. Digital as-builts including utility locations and other asset information will improve post-construction decisions and shorten future project delivery.

Quality. Digital as-builts can provide enhanced historical data, enabling State DOTs to better maintain the transportation infrastructure and develop future projects.

Learn more about this EDC-6 Innovation.

Digital As-Builts in NJ

Stage of Innovation:
DEVELOPMENT
(December 2022)

The NJDOT EDC team added representation from in-house roadway design staff, traffic engineering, geodetic survey and the CADD Unit along with Local Aid, Construction, Project Management Office (PMO), and the consultant industry over time to develop this initiative.

Before digital as-builts could be advanced at NJDOT, the new CADD platform of Open Roads Designer (ORD) and Open Bridge Designer (OBD) must be fully in place and in full use.  NJDOT's CADD unit has been working with Bentley on a new workspace for ORD and OBD.  Several key steps required completion before the new software could be fully implemented by in-house and consultant designers including development of a new CADD Manual. The EDC team will provide assistance to the CADD unit for this and other activities.

Research. NJDOT has met with the Pennsylvania DOT to learn about their digital as-built program and delivery plan and has contacted the consultant developing FHWA guidelines for 3D As-Builts.

Pilot Development. NJDOT has identified a digital as-built pilot project that will meet various functional and business requirements. The pilot project, Route 138, GSP to Route 35 (MP 0.37 to 3.52), will be designed in-house using OpenRoads Designer (ORD) through mapping submitted in ORD following the new CADD Standards. The mobile LiDAR Survey is in process and preliminary engineering (PE) is slated to be initiated in the fall of 2022.  The team has completed the task of connecting pay items to the design elements to ready the project.

What’s Next?

Next steps will be to coordinate with Construction on the specifics of the post construction survey for the digital as-builts. The implementation team is participating in various webinars and workshops to learn more about the national trends and to hear about lessons learned.

The loss of key staff in the CADD Development Unit and the Geodetic Survey Unit, due to retirements and promotions, has disrupted the team's learning curve for the storage of 3-D As-Builts and integration into GIS.  With the pilot project not yet initiated and construction not due to start for a couple of years, the team expects to adjust staffing levels, groom new subject matter experts, and/or leverage consulting staff augmentation for support. This staff augmentation will help the team move forward once the OpenRoads Designer and OpenBridge Designer software are up and running.

DIGITAL AS-BUILTS: NEW & NOTEWORTHY

FHWA Digital as Builts (DABS) Webinar Series

FHWA Digital as Builts (DABS) Webinar Series

The FHWA will present an eight-part webinar series on the EDC-6 Implementation Initiative for Digital As-Builts (DABs). The webinar series is designed to increase overall ...
Innovation Spotlight: How DOTs Are Moving Toward Digital As-Builts

Innovation Spotlight: How DOTs Are Moving Toward Digital As-Builts

This article reports on a brief Digital As-Builts Literature Scan and provides references to a select bibliography of research reports, strategic plans and other resource ...