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PennDOT engineer’s idea improves 511PA

April 26, 2019 12:00 AM
By: Dave Thompson

PennDOT engineer’s idea improves 511PA

Gerald C. Wertz, a design plans engineer in PennDOT's District 3, is a prime example of how employees with experience in dealing with problems often are the best at finding solutions to those problems.

Wertz noted an incident at a department bridge project in Bradford County where a bridge that had been reduced to a single lane with a 10-foot width restriction had been struck by a vehicle.

He knew changes to the commonwealth's Road Condition Reporting System (RCRS) allowed dimensional restrictions to be input into the system. He submitted an idea to the PennDOT's IdeaLink website recommending that dimensional restrictions input into RCRS also be viewable on construction projects identified on 511PA. 511PA is a web-based service that provides the public with real-time conditions on state-owned roads. This information includes, among other things, road closures or lane restrictions due to construction projects, vehicle crashes, or weather. Much of the information contained on the site is automatically input when an RCRS report is created.

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"My idea was to have the dimensional restriction entered into 511PA so people hauling oversized loads or operating oversize equipment could use 511PA to plan their travels," he said. "RCRS was already capturing the location of the project and other generic information. I wanted it to also include the dimensional restrictions."

Once the idea was deployed, dimensional restrictions were viewable on the 511PA interactive map. Haulers can search "active roadwork" icons (orange cones) on a specific route. Information on the project, including any dimensional restrictions, can be viewed by left clicking the icon.

This innovation could be helpful for haulers with annual hauling permits, especially when conditions change on a route due to construction, Wertz said. It also can be helpful to PennDOT and other state agencies that move heavy equipment from one location to the other, as well as industries such as agriculture. He estimates the department could save thousands of dollars by reducing damage to property or equipment.

"A major benefit is the ability for annual (hauling) permit holders to plan their travel routes during the ever-changing construction season when situations vary from week to week," he said. "Additionally, the agricultural community can better plan spring and fall operations when they are using wide machinery.

"This is another valuable tool to improve the safety and increase the efficiency of moving over-width equipment throughout the commonwealth," he added.

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