States Begin Implementing New SHRP2 Solutions

AASHTO Journal, 26 July 2013

With states now beginning to implement products developed through the second Strategic Highway Program (SHRP2), the top executives from three state departments of transportation recently offered their unique approaches to integrating five of the “SHRP2 Solutions” into their work programs.

At last week’s meeting of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO), Michigan DOT Director Kirk Steudle, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Director Mike Hancock, and Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino participated on the panel, SHRP2 Delivers: States Implement New Innovations, moderated by AASHTO SHRP2 Implementation Manager Pam Hutton.

“We are now moving from the abstract processes developed through the research into concrete activities that will show real results,” Hutton said. “They are designed to either directly or indirectly benefit the ultimate customer – the highway user.”

The work stems from the FHWA/AASHTO SHRP2 Implementation Assistance Program, established in February 2013 to help State DOTs, MPOs, local agencies, and other interested organizations deploy SHRP2 Solutions. Three “levels of engagement” were offered – Proof of Concept Pilots, Lead Adopter Incentives, and User Incentives for six products (see related AASHTO Journal story here). Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia received awards to put SHRP2 Solutions to work on 108 projects.

The SHRP2 implementation program is expected to introduce more than 65 products to the transportation industry through a coordinated effort led by FHWA and AASHTO. More than $169 million in federal and state funds will be dedicated to the implementation efforts.

The Michigan DOT is a lead adopter for two SHRP2 Solutions: Implementing Eco-Logical and Innovative Strategies for Managing Complex Projects. For the first product, MDOT is partnering with SEMCOG (SouthEast Michigan Council of Governments) and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory to use the nine-step processes included in Implementing Eco-Logical to assist in planning for reconstruction of 20 miles of I-75 along Lake Erie. I-75 is the busiest truck corridor in Michigan. It also runs along Lake Erie in many places, which is seeing new environmental degradation due primarily to farm runoff. The project involves 40 acres of wetland impacts, water quality issues, and impaired streams, and will require coordination with numerous resource agencies, particularly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The implementation assistance will allow MDOT and its partners to develop a Regional Ecosystem Framework that can be used by local, state, and federal agencies and interested environmental and community groups, Steudle said. The team hopes to identify conservation priorities that will guide mitigation into the future and allow better coordination with transportation and conservation planning.

MDOT’s other award will enable it to use Innovative Strategies for Managing Complex Projects to develop formal project management plans for two “mega projects” – a $1.8 billion project to rebuild I-94 in Detroit, and the reconstruction of 18 miles of I-75 in Oakland County, including the first HOV lane in Michigan. These highly complex projects offer a number of challenges, including numerous railroad bridge crossings, aging public and private utilities, and, in the case of I-94, limited space in which to work. The link to the complete presentation can be found here.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is already at work as the lead adopter for the Innovative Bridge Design product, using model bridge designs on two short-span bridges in Eastern Kentucky on KY 6, Knox County. Rural areas present fewer options when bridges are reconstructed or put out of service since conventional construction often requires long detour routes or detours on substandard roadways. Hancock said they hope to have the contract out for bid in August, with selection in September, and construction to begin in October. Each bridge will be completed in approximately three weeks versus the three to four months it would take using conventional construction.

On the second product where it is also a Lead Adopter, Preservation Techniques to Treat High-Volume Roads, Kentucky is developing a plan to use four or more treatments on a roadway segment to see what process works best. KYTC will use the decision matrix to determine the optimal processes for their climate, typography, and usage characteristics. The link to the complete presentation can be found here.

Paul Trombino, Iowa DOT Director, recently organized a new Office of Traffic Operations to address traffic incident and work zone management, emergency transportation operations, and mobility issues caused by adverse weather. As a Lead Adopter for the SHRP2 Solution Organizing to Improve Travel-Time Reliability, the DOT plans to build on this initiative and use the self-assessment process to bring together stakeholders to assess the state of Iowa’s operations program; identify resources, experts, and best practices; identify improvement needs on a system-wide and corridor basis; and establish a baseline and develop data to measure performance and improvement. They will build an advisory group to lead the effort. Once the group is in place, Trombino said they expect to bring in additional participants from DOT and partners such as state patrols to work on specific elements of the action plan. The link to the complete presentation can be found here.

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