AASHTO Journal, 13 September 2013
Innovation in transportation allows transportation agencies to bring results to the American people more efficiently and rapidly, and with longer-lasting results. That was a key message coming from last month’s meeting of the Southern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO), held in Asheville, N.C.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez told the more than 1,100 SASHTO participants that the importance of innovation in transportation cannot be underestimated. He noted that Every Day Counts, the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2), and MAP-21 will make a difference in the way business is done in the future. Speaking about SHRP2 specifically, Mendez said, “We want to make sure the SHRP2 program is implemented in every state. We have learned much from the research and we want to deploy what we’ve learned across the nation.”
The SASHTO meeting emphasized how states were looking at new ways to address their challenges. During the session, “Got Geritol? Prescriptions for Aging Interstates,” Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden discussed how his state was using one of the SHRP2 products to assist them with their first public-private partnership (P3) project in the northwest corner of this state.
In a separate session, “Getting Blood Out of a Turnip: Freeway Optimization Strategies,” Tennessee DOT Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Paul Degges discussed how optimizing his state’s systems operation and management capabilities by using a new SHRP2 Solution will help Tennessee drivers achieve more reliable travel times while maximizing freeway capacity.
Georgia DOT will be using the SHRP2 Solution, “Managing Complex Projects,” as it works to deliver 29.7 miles of new reversible barrier-separated managed lanes in the northwest corner of Atlanta. The total cost for the design-build-finance project is estimated at $840 million. Golden said that the SHRP2 tool, which expands the more typical management considerations of technical, schedule, and cost to include finance and context will “fit well” into the Northwest Corridor project. As a lead adopter for the product under the FHWA/AASHTO Implementation Assistance Program (IAP), Georgia will be training all their project managers in the Office of Innovative Program Delivery in the methods and tools included in the product, and will be part of peer-to-peer exchanges with other states.
Tennessee has recently created a new Traffic Operations Division that now includes traffic incident management and traffic management centers as well as the ITS section and traffic engineering. As a lead adopter under the IAP for Organizing to Improve Travel-time Reliability, Tennessee will use a self-assessment to identify existing practices and gaps for moving ahead, and to develop an action plan. Degges said that the process will allow TennDOT to build more consistency in its operations program, standardize its system-wide system, and save money by bringing the state’s ITS design functions in-house.