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EDC-6 Virtual Summit Echoes People As the True Engine Behind Transportation

By Rudynah Entera Capone, MPA

The EDC-6 (Every Day Counts) Virtual Summit held this month reaffirmed how innovation has been at the heart of the transportation industry.

FHWA’s Acting Chief Innovation Officer Amy Lucero reiterated this in her welcome message. “For 10 years now, EDC has also been at the heart of FHWA’s efforts to save lives, save time, and save money. The seven innovations rolled out in EDC-6 continue that legacy. I invite you to engage with our deployment teams and with each other,” she encouraged.

The summit brought together transportation professionals and community leaders who are involved in the planning and implementation of highway projects across the nation. Representatives from Louisiana state and local agencies, including LTAP staff members, participated in this three-day information exchange.

The summit kicked off with FHWA Deputy Administrator Mala Parker emphasizing people as the true engine behind transportation. “It makes perfect sense. All of us are users of the system. We’re builders, operators and stewards of the system. If you’re joining us today, you are an innovation champion,” she added.

The EDC-6 cycle has identified strategies that increase public involvement, introduced new applications for infrastructure preservation and repair, and enhanced systems to save time in delivering projects and managing incidents. The first three innovations listed here revolve around people.

"Innovation is at the heart of the transportation industry, and for 10 years now, EDC has been at the heart of FHWA’s efforts to save lives, save time, and save money. The seven innovations rolled out in EDC-6 continue that legacy. I invite you to engage with our deployment teams and with each other."--Amy Lucero, FHWA Chief Innovation Officer EDC-6 Virtual Summit Welcome Message

Virtual Public Involvement (VPI)

As Parker mentioned, people have a voice to express during private planning. “This voice is better understood if we engage the public and help facilitate their input early on,” she enthused.

With innovative VPI techniques, agencies are able to create multiple channels to remotely disseminate information to the public while increasing efficiencies in the way public feedback is gathered and considered. These VPI strategies include mobile applications, design visualization tools, telephone town halls, online meetings, all-in-one public involvement platforms online meetings, pop-up outreach, real-time polling tools, social media following, do-it-yourself videos, and meeting-in-a-box kits.

Strategic Workforce Development

Strategic workforce development is an essential area for Louisiana’s LTAP center as it serves to provide training and workforce development opportunities to local municipalities, parishes and regional planning organizations.

As Parker shared in her message, “The demand for highway construction, maintenance and operation workers is growing. At the same time, emerging technologies are requiring workers to have new skills.”

New resources and innovative strategies for workforce development have been developed to help in identifying, training, and placing workers in jobs where they can be efficient. Some of these resources include the development playbook “Identify, Train, Place” and a comprehensive outreach campaign “Roads to Your Future.” State and local agencies can use these to help recruit the next generation of transportation workers.

Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations

“Wherever people travel, crowdsourced data can be collected,” Parker further shared. Crowdsourcing is advancing the way public agencies collect highway and operations data. The crowdsourced data from multiple channels are used and integrated in real time for improved traffic operations. Traffic Management Center (TMC) operators are equipped with tools to proactively manage incidents as they occur rather than react to them after traffic jams worsen. In Louisiana, DOTD operates five TMCs and provides Motorist Assistance Patrol (MAP) services in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles, and Shreveport areas, as well as MAP services for construction projects statewide.

The next four innovations relate to how products and processes affect the efficiencies and life span of infrastructure projects.

Crowdsourced data from multiple streams can be integrated and used in real time for improved operations. (Source: FHWA)

Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions (TOPS)

The nation’s highway system is now on the brink of having too many pavements approaching the end of their design life. With TOPS, construction companies and public agencies are now able to extend pavement life while reducing traffic impacts, therefore, maximizing infrastructure investments and ensuring safety for the traveling public. Whether it be concrete or asphalt overlays, TOPS intend to reduce maintenance needs, thus having much fewer work zones and relatively improved safety for all road users.

e-Ticketing and Digital As-Builts

The e-construction journey toward going paperless continues on in EDC-6 cycle, reaching out and capturing the last barrier in paper material tickets. It’s obviously quicker and more streamlined to provide an electronic means of producing, transmitting, and sharing materials using the cloud and mobile devices. In addition, the EDC-6 digital as-builts initiative opens doors for integrating data that is already available and accessible as well as capturing missing data like utility locations.

Next Generation (NextGen) Traffic Incident Management (TIM): Integrating Technology, Data and Training

NextGen TIM isn’t just about increasing traveler and responder safety. It is also about advancing how transportation agencies can improve incident management using strategies like back-of-queue warning, notification-based incident detection using crowdsourced data, and more.

Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Bridge Preservation and Repair

UHPC is the next generation of concrete, and in this EDC-6 cycle, the ultimate goal is to build better bridges. By using UHPC, engineers are able to build bridges that aren’t just more constructible but also more durable and resilient. Compared to the conventional concrete, UHPC is a steel-fiber reinforced, Portland-cement material that is castable and consolidating with superior mechanical and durability properties. These characteristics make it possible for bridges to get as much as 75 years of life span and performance rather than the traditional 15 to 20 years (or even shorter). Learn more about EDC-6 innovations on www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_6/