NJ STIC 2020 Winter Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) held its 2020 Winter Meeting on February 5th, 2020 in the NJDOT Multi-Purpose Room. The NJ STIC Agenda was distributed to the attendees along with handouts highlighting examples of past and ongoing NJ STIC innovative initiatives and how STIC incentive funding grants have been used.

After welcoming remarks from the NJDOT's Asst. Commissioner Michael Russo and Robert Clark, FHWA's Division Administrator, Helene Roberts from the FHWA NJ Division Office provided a brief update of the status of New Jersey's progress on Every Day Counts (EDC-5) innovative initiatives. Short presentations were given by the three Core Innovation Area (CIA) Teams—Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, and Mobility & Operations—reporting on the activities planned and underway. More detail on the innovative initiatives can be accessed here.

"Virtual Public Involvement" was the featured innovation topic for the meeting.  Representatives of New Jersey's three MPOs—Alan Huff from South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization, Melissa Hayes and Ted Ritter from North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, and Alison Hastings from Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission—highlighted examples of their agency's efforts, performance metrics, lessons learned and challenges using social media, polling, videos, surveys, and mapping tools among other strategies.

Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research and Ms. Roberts then conducted an interactive polling exercise that invited attendees to use their cell phones to collaborate with the NJ STIC leadership team. Participants were asked a series of questions exploring their interest and soliciting their input on possible topics for a future STIC meeting that would feature breakout sessions on the EDC-5 innovative initiative. The results from the interactive polling exercise and informal feedback given throughout its administration will assist the leadership team in planning a future event.

Ms. Gendek noted that "NJ STIC Examples in Excellence" will be featured at the NJ TransAction Conference 2020 to be held on April 28, 2020 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City at 4:00pm. And look for an article on NJDOT's UAS Demonstration for the TRB representative to be published in the Jan/Feb 2020 TR News.  Attendees were also informed of an upcoming Tech Talk! Event, "Micromobility in New Jersey and Beyond"  scheduled for February 20, 2020 in NJDOT's Multi-Purpose Room for which registration is open. The event will highlight research conducted by the NJ's Bicycle Pedestrian Resource Center and feature speakers intimately familiar with Hoboken and Asbury Park initiatives to bring bike share and e-scooters to their communities. 

She also announced that the Bureau of Research would like to create short videos on STIC innovative initiatives that local agencies have implemented in order to highlight these accomplishments and encourage adoption by others. Contact her if you would like to participate.

Finally, attendees viewed the new NJ Build a Better Mousetrap video featuring Gerald Oliveto in NJDOT Operations Support and Engineering with the 2019 winning innovation, the Bridge Fender Navigation Lighting Reflective Backup System. The video and a fuller description of the competition and innovation, can be found on the Build a Better Mousetap page.

The Spring Meeting is scheduled for May 6, 2020.

The NJ STIC Winter Meeting Presentations can be found in sections below.

Welcome; FHWA Update; Roundtable Recap
CIA Team Update: SAFETY
CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation
CIA Team Update: Mobility and Operations
MPO Implementation of Virtual Public Involvement
Interactive Survey & Results
Roundtable, Reminders & Announcements, Wrap Up

NJ STIC 2019 Fall Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) held its 2019 Fall Meeting on November 19, 2019 in the NJDOT Multi-Purpose Room. The STIC Meeting Agenda was distributed to the attendees along with several handouts that provide examples of NJ STIC innovative initiatives and how STIC incentive funding grants have been used.

After his Welcome and Opening Remarks, Asst. Commissioner Michael Russo and Assistant Division Administrator for the FHWA NJ Office Valeriya Remezova informed attendees that the New Jersey STIC was one of three STICs nationwide to receive an AASHTO 2019 STIC Excellence Award. FHWA's Center for Accelerating Innovation and the AASHTO Innovation Initiative partner to promote innovations and recognize excellence within a STIC. The STIC Excellence Award recognized the NJ STIC for:

“…developing a culture of innovation with broad stakeholder participation, shared metrics, and an engaged leadership. The STIC established processes to identify and move new technologies into practice, including an online portal to solicit potential ideas. The STIC also created three teams—Infrastructure Preservation, Safety, and Mobility and Operations—to champion innovations. A new web page features information on the STIC's innovation initiatives and a searchable innovation database. New Jersey's STIC is advancing unmanned aerial systems for bridge inspection and traffic incident monitoring, including developing guidance and specifications. To improve motorist and responder safety, the STIC is promoting the use of crowdsourcing applications to notify the public where NJDOT Safety Service Patrol vehicles are working on roadsides."

Following a brief celebratory award presentation, the FHWA's Helene Roberts provided a recap of the topics discussed during the national STIC meeting held on October 24th, 2019.  The meeting was recorded and pre-meeting presentation slides from the national meeting are available through the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation portal for National STIC meeting recordings.

Tom Harman, Director of the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation, provided an engaging presentation, Towards a Culture of Innovation, inviting participants to consider seven key attributes of an innovator. His discussion of innovation explored key elements of why and how an innovation may be adopted, or diffused, within an organization or community.  He also highlighted some possible barriers, or challenges, that key opinion leaders and leadership may wittingly or unwittingly place that impede the adoption of innovation within a large-scale organization. He pointed to select state DOTs that are leading the way among STICs nationally in promoting a favorable culture for adopting innovations, noting how agencies and individuals can be differentiated in part by their tolerance for the risk of failure and the time it takes to adopt an innovation.

Mr. Harman’s talk touched upon various Federal program funding vehicles available within the Center for Accelerating Innovation, highlighted select innovations that are being widely adopted throughout the nation, and shed some light on the "innovations of interest" currently being considered for innovation funding in the next round (i.e., EDC-6), or through some other renamed or rebranded program vehicle. He encouraged attendees to share their ideas for possible future innovations.

Mr. Harman was also joined by Karyn Vandevoort, Program Manager Analyst from FHWA’s Pennsylvania Division who helped facilitate discussion among the NJ STIC participants during Mr. Harman's talk as well as offered some remarks on the proceedings of a recent conference on innovation held in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Roberts from the FHWA NJ Division Office also provided a brief update of the status of New Jersey's progress on Every Day Counts (EDC-5) Innovative Initiatives. Short presentations were given by the three Core Innovation Area (CIA) Teams—Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, and Mobility & Operations—reporting on the activities planned and underway. More detail on the innovative initiatives can be accessed here.

Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research, described recent communications and technology transfer efforts to raise awareness of the NJ STIC and its mission, including several recent Lunchtime Tech Talks, webinars and a video product.  The recently completed video, Drone Technology at NJDOT, was also shown to the attendees.   The video highlights some of the accomplishments of the UAS Program and how the adoption of the technology delivers benefits that are changing how DOT performs various operations.

The meeting closed with a Roundtable discussion that highlighted how the NJ STIC is evolving and using its outreach and communications tools (e.g., website, videos, trainings and workshops, and Tech Talk events) to further disseminate innovative practices among its diverse set of stakeholders.

The schedule of STIC meetings for 2020 was presented.  The Winter Meeting is scheduled for February 5, 2020.

The NJ STIC Fall Meeting Presentations can be found in sections below.

Welcome; Award; FHWA Update; Roundtable Recap
CIA Team Update: SAFETY
CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation
CIA Team Update: Mobility and Operations
Guest Speaker Tom Harman
Video: Drone Technology at NJDOT
Outreach & Coordination Efforts; Roundtable

Tech Talk! Webinar: The Connected Job Site

On November 14, 2019, FHWA sponsored an innovation exchange webinar, "The Connected Job Site," that was live broadcast by the NJDOT Bureau of Research as part of its Tech Talk! series, for NJDOT staff at NJDOT Headquarters in the Foran Building Training Room.

With the recent influx of new technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and drones, and their growing and widespread availability, many ingenious applications have been developed for their effective deployment in construction and operations and maintenance activities in transportation. These technologies have allowed for real-time project monitoring, improved communication among team members, documentation stored on the cloud, and more efficient online scheduling. During this webinar, attendees learned about what exactly connected job sites are, and how various local agencies from around the country have started to utilize these technologies in innovative ways.

FHWA launched the webinar with a short presentation, Ten Examples of Connected Technologies, that highlighted examples of tools and technologies found on the connected job site. The primary objective behind the adoption of these connected technologies is to save time and money and improve safety in operations.  Hardware like smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearable technology and various vehicles and equipment have streamlined communications and planning in performing field work, while software solutions like 3D Modeling and Building Information Modeling (BIM) have improved the accuracy and efficiency of digital representation for physical facilities and infrastructure design. Virtual reality (VR) technologies have also started to find applications in the field, allowing professionals to safely experiment and test ideas in an artificial environment and bring products and concepts to life through visualizations.  Using VR in conjunction with drone technology, for example, has allowed maintenance crews to safely examine parts of bridges that were previously hazardous to inspect. The advent of unmanned aerial vehicle systems, in general, has provided the ability to garner visual information at a lower cost than traditional methods, while keeping workers out of harm’s way.

Connected job sites do not always have to deploy new technologies; sometimes they just re-purpose applications of older technologies in conjunction with new ideas. GPS systems have been around for decades, but when used with new software they are immensely effective in improving efficiency.  Two case examples of this were provided by the local public agencies who participated in the webinar.

Township staff can review actual snow plow routes to improve cost-effective coverage and verify citizen complaints

The Township of Edison’s presentation, Improve Fleet Operations Through the Use of GPS and Telematics, provided by the New Jersey municipality’s Information Technology Manager, described some benefits and challenges of the installation of GPS tracking devices on its vehicle maintenance fleet.  During snow events, the Township was able to monitor the entire routes taken by its snow plow trucks and the specific segments where the plows were used.  Once the monitoring systems were in place, the Township found that it had the capability to more effectively evaluate individual citizen complaints of streets not being plowed adequately.  For example, the Township could check its mapped records of fleet route deployment during storm events, and see if the complaints were "true" and then determine whether a specific snow removal job needed to be repeated.  More broadly, the tool allowed the agency to ascertain whether designated routes were being followed by operators and whether the priority routes themselves were efficient and effective in both design and operation.

This capability had the added benefit of reducing the Township’s liability for alleged property damage. In fact, the Township found that some 50 percent of the claims that asserted that snow plows were hitting parked vehicles could not be substantiated after checking the GPS location of the snowplow trucks and their route history. Insurance claims and payouts were reduced by some 60 percent due to this capacity to technically validate the potential merits of a claim. The Township also found that it was able to improve efficiency in route designs, leading to less wear and tear on equipment, less use of salt and brine, and a reduction in person-hours and overtime costs.

The Township touched upon tool features that improved the monitoring of vehicles for preventative maintenance. As vehicles systems were now connected to a central hub, needed repairs were identified more quickly and systematically, and less dependent on individual driver reports of faults in a vehicle's operation.  Eventually, low use and high maintenance cost vehicles were better identified and retired, allowing for an overall fleet reduction of 35 percent which, in turn, has reduced costs for fuel, insurance, parts and labor.

For Lauderdale uses available individual vehicle operations measures to improve safety and support preventative maintenance progam for its fleet.

The City of Fort Lauderdale’s presentation, How to Improve Fleet Sustainability, jointly given by the City’s Program Manager for Fleet Services and their Automotive and Equipment Specialist, described several features and benefits of their fleet management program, including the use of geofencing. A geofence is a virtual perimeter dynamically generated for a real-world geographic area around a point location, or a predefined set of boundaries. It is typically used for security purposes and to better track people and equipment. Fort Lauderdale used geofencing to help preserve its infrastructure, as it was able to monitor overweight trucks using historic bridges; with this real time technology, they were able to reduce over-weight vehicles crossing the bridge by nearly 90 percent.

Vehicle tracking had the side benefit of making their drivers operate more safely.  The City found that its personnel were less likely to go over the speed limit if they were monitored, and “harsh events” such as braking and sharp turns were also reduced.  Examples of some of the specific and aggregate dashboard performance measures that can be monitored for equipment usage were highlighted.

In the dialogue following both presentations, it was clear that the adoption of the connected technologies changed the way business is being performed. Notably, the tools and performance measures permit increased tracking of the workforce on-the-job.  The presenters acknowledged that it can raise concerns about the level of monitoring available to the local public agency's management team.  However, according to the presenters, the implementation of the systems has generally improved the safety and efficiency of daily operations and contributed to improved maintenance and longevity of their fleets.

While the webinar shared just a couple of case examples primarily focused on fleet management, the FHWA hosts stressed that the future of connected job sites will only grow as the “internet of things” becomes more complex. Everything from automated vehicles, intelligent compaction, drones, and RFID scanners will continue to find new applications, and new ways to save money and enhance safety.

The Connected Job Site webinar is one in a series of Innovation Exchange webinars 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 seeks to bring cutting-edge transportation leaders to the table to share ideas and out of the box innovative practices that have proven results.  More information about this webinar, upcoming webinars, and webinars available on demand can be found here.

NJDOT Safety Countermeasures Training and Education Videos

The following videos describe six of FHWA’s Proven Safety Countermeasures that improve pedestrian safety. NJDOT developed these videos to train and educate viewers on the design features and safety benefits of these initiatives.

FHWA began promoting Proven Safety Countermeasures in 2008 to encourage implementation among state, tribal and local transportation agencies. The list was updated in 2012 and 2017 and now comprises 20 countermeasures that support infrastructure improvements. These safety treatments and strategies were chosen based on proven effectiveness and benefits and can be adopted to reduce roadway departures, and intersection, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes.

Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) has been included as an Innovation under FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) Rounds 4 and 5.  NJDOT has prepared videos for training purposes on several of the topics featured under STEP – specifically, Pedestrian Crossing/Refuge Islands, Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons, Road Diets and Leading Pedestrian Intervals. Other strategies advanced under STEP are Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons, Crosswalk Visibility Enhancements, and Raised Crosswalks.

NJDOT chose the following safety initiatives as subjects for safety videos:


What is a Leading Pedestrian Interval?

Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) give pedestrians the opportunity to enter an intersection 3-7 seconds before vehicles are given a green indication. With this head start, pedestrians can better establish their presence in the crosswalk before vehicles have priority to turn left.

What is a Walkway?

Walkways are any type of defined space or pathway for use by a person traveling by foot or using a wheelchair. These may be pedestrian walkways, shared use paths, sidewalks, or roadway shoulders. FHWA defines a pedestrian walkway as a continuous way designated for pedestrians and separated from motor vehicle traffic by a space or barrier. By contrast, sidewalks are walkways that are paved and separated from the street, generally by a curb and gutter.

What is a Pedestrian Crossing Island?

Medians and Pedestrian Crossing Islands in Urban and Suburban Areas are located between opposing lanes of traffic, excluding turn lanes. They provide a safe place for pedestrians to stop at the midpoint of the roadway before crossing the remaining distance. This is particularly helpful for older pedestrians or others with limited mobility.

What is a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon?

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs) are a beneficial intermediate option between Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFBs) and a full pedestrian signal. They provide positive stop control in areas without the high pedestrian traffic volumes that typically warrant signal installation.

What is a Road Diet?

Road Diets are the removal of a travel lane or lanes from a roadway and use of the space for other purposes and travel modes, such as bike lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, or transit.

What is a Reduced Left-Turn Conflict Intersection?

Reduced Left-Turn Conflict Intersections are geometric designs that alter how left-turn movements occur in order to simplify decisions and minimize the potential for related crashes. Two highly effective designs that rely on U-turns to complete certain left-turn movements are known as the restricted crossing U-turn (RCUT) and the median U-turn (MUT).