Exciting new enhancements to the Pennsylvania State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) were unveiled in 2018, as major steps were taken to rethink, reshape, retool, and reposition the program for major success in the future.
The STIC Moving Forward strategic plan provided the framework to reorganize, reenergize and rightsize the STIC to increase participation opportunities for PennDOT employees and its transportation partners to develop and deploy well-researched, proven, and documented innovations across Pennsylvania. The plan also established a process-driven management structure within the STIC to ensure consistent innovation development practices to facilitate the timely movement of more innovations to deployment in Pennsylvania. Under the STIC Moving Forward plan, six new innovations were submitted and are currently being developed for statewide deployment.
Since its inception in 2012, the STIC continues to be unique in its approach to innovating transportation in Pennsylvania. While the STIC remains committed to supporting and promoting the deployment of Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Every Day Counts (EDC) innovations, the STIC also looks beyond to see what other innovations exist at the state, national and international levels that may be well-suited for implementation across Pennsylvania.
Chaired by PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards and FHWA Division Administrator Alicia Nolan, the STIC works to develop and deploy innovations that improve roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, accelerate construction, improve project delivery and enhance sustainability. More than 80 innovations have been brought to the STIC, due in large part to the hard work of the Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), comprised of a cross-section of transportation stakeholders who assist in evaluating, developing, promoting, and deploying innovations.
In addition to PennDOT, FHWA and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), STIC members also represent academia, other federal and state agencies, planning partners, local public agencies, contractors, and consultants.
Advancing innovations from initial submission to deployment can be complex, but is made easier thanks to a "roadmap" for success established as part of the STIC Moving Forward strategic plan. The plan identified an easy-to-follow, four-phase Innovation Development Process that sets the direction to fully develop new innovations in only six to 12 months.
The process is a roadmap to success for all STIC participants, especially those on TAGs and Development Teams, to support fast, efficient, and effective development in a consistent way.
Scroll over or tap on each of the phases to learn more
Opportunities abound to get involved with the STIC, especially with the organizational realignment identified in the STIC Moving Forward plan rolled out earlier this year.
Under the strategic plan, 10 existing TAGs were combined into four to better align with PennDOT’s organizational structure: Design, Construction and Materials, Maintenance, and Safety and Traffic Operations. Combining the TAGs brings more subject matter experts, including a standing member from the FHWA, together for multi-disciplinary collaboration, clearing pathways for innovation advancement. Volunteers from among PennDOT leadership were sought to spearhead each of the four TAGs. The role of the TAG Leader is to essentially “quarterback” pending innovations and “call the plays” necessary to advance these innovations to deployment based upon known available resources, maximizing returns on the investments of time, talent, and funding.
New roles were added to support the TAGs, creating more opportunities for participation by PennDOT employees, partners and stakeholders. A separate Innovation Owner will be assigned to each innovation within the TAGs and will lead Development Teams of subject matter experts to fully develop innovations for deployment throughout Pennsylvania.
Harold Hill, P.E.
Karen Michael, P.E.
Rich Roman, P.E.
Gavin Gray, P.E.
The mission of the STIC is to develop innovations for implementation in Pennsylvania. Innovations are well-researched, proven, and documented technologies, tactics, and techniques. In 2018, six new innovations were submitted under the STIC Moving Forward plan.
You might say they are artists with a float and trowel, and their work is undeniably valuable. They are concrete finishers, and Pennsylvania is working to increase the number of highly-skilled, well-trained individuals in the trade.Read More
With a massive roadway system to maintain, coupled with varied terrain and an unpredictable climate, PennDOT is always looking for innovative roadway maintenance materials that are long lasting and more durable.Read More
Reducing pollutants carried through storm sewer systems during major weather events has a direct effect on the quality of Pennsylvania’s waterways and its citizens’ quality of life.Read More
Sharp curves and hairpin turns may be exciting at Daytona or other racetracks, but on Pennsylvania roads these turns can prove hazardous to the traveling public. According to PennDOT data, more than 35 percent of crash fatalities in 2017 were single vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes.Read More
Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPMs) is an EDC-4 innovation that involves the use of data to analyze and optimize traffic signal performance. Poorly timed traffic signals are the most significant contributor to traffic congestion on arterial roadways.Read More
No one likes being stuck in a work zone, especially when you have places to go and people to see. Whether you are running late for work or on your way to pick up the kids at school, there is never a good time to be stuck in a lengthy work zone backlog.Read More
Since its inception in 2012, the STIC has developed several innovations that are being used successfully across the state or are on the cusp of being implemented. Below are some examples of these innovations in motion. With an eye on future transportation innovations, this section also includes information about the 2018 Research Symposium hosted by PennDOT in coordination with the FHWA.
For transportation planners, the choice between the desirability of a paved surface and the environmental consequences caused by pollution and water runoff is often a delicate balancing act.Read More
Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) continues to help PennDOT build better bridges faster and more cost efficiently. An EDC-2 innovation, ABC methods are now being used in a variety of projects across the state.Read More
Drivers may think a little rain is no big deal, but wet roads can dangerously decrease vehicle-to-surface friction, causing braking, steering and accelerating to become hazardous.Read More
A bright, well-lit roadway can contribute to motorist and pedestrian safety by shining additional light on changing traffic conditions that could otherwise go unnoticed until it is too late.Read More
PennDOT is changing the way it views intersections, trending away from stop-controlled intersections that contribute to motorist delay and unnecessary vehicle idling.Read More
Cement Slurry for Full Depth Reclamation (FDR) is a new technique to assist PennDOT, local governments, and FDR contractors by providing a widely available and dust-free method for stabilizing pavements.Read More
A symposium, joining PennDOT and FHWA transportation subject matter experts (SMEs) and representatives from six Pennsylvania universities, is setting the stage to launch research projects that could yield several transportation innovations in the future.
The 2-day Research Symposium, hosted in September 2018, joined more than 40 representatives from Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, Lehigh University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh and Temple University with more than 80 transportation SMEs from PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, FHWA and planning partners.
Six topical sessions focused on asset management, bridges, multi-modal transportation, pavement and materials, safety, and traffic operations. In each session, university representatives presented to panels of SMEs regarding their research capabilities and experience. Twenty research projects were collaboratively identified for further exploration. Research projects that are proven successful and well documented by PennDOT’s Research Division may be submitted to the STIC for development and deployment throughout Pennsylvania.
Originally launched in 2009, FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program continues to introduce proven, innovative tools, products and technologies to states. Every two years, FHWA hosts regional summits where states learn about new innovations and select tools, products and technologies to best address their transportation challenges.
During the 2016 FHWA Regional EDC-4 Summit in Baltimore, Md., PennDOT identified six innovations for statewide implementation.
Every driver has experienced the frustration and, in some case, been involved in crashes because of poorly timed traffic signals. PennDOT is utilizing Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPMs) to help make signal timing adjustments easier and faster. This innovation provides real-time, high-resolution data that PennDOT uses to identify and make appropriate traffic signal adjustments.
Traditionally, traffic signals were adjusted by comparing very limited, before-and-after, travel-time data; real-time performance capabilities did not exist. ATSPMs provide continuous performance monitoring capabilities and allow for signal retiming to be based on actual performance without dependence on software modeling, or expensive manually collected data.
Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Level of Engineering (CHANGE). The title is long, but the premise is straightforward. CHANGE uses hydraulic modeling tools to improve the understanding of complex interactions between water and transportation infrastructure. Although an EDC-4 innovation, PennDOT has used 2-dimensional (2D) hydraulic modeling on various complex projects for over 15 years and supported advanced hydraulic modeling tools in its design manuals. The availability of statewide terrain data (LiDAR) in Pennsylvania and the continuous improvements of computer capabilities have allowed 2D hydraulic modeling to become more practical and cost efficient.
Most recently used in the Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation bridge crossing project (PennDOT District 3), benefits of 2D models include: more accurate design of bridge openings, span arrangements, roadway profiles, scour countermeasures, and bank protection; bridge scour or sediment removal analysis; and evaluation of temporary and permanent flooding impacts. The results of using 2D models can improve design decisions, illustrate results and enhance communication with other engineering disciplines, regulatory agencies, and the public.
Using data to better target safety improvements is the foundation of Data-Driven Safety Analysis (DDSA), where crash and roadway data is analyzed to more-reliably determine locations that will benefit most by Safety Improvement Projects. PennDOT utilizes this analysis tool to help predict the safety impacts of their investment decisions. This analysis results in more scientiﬁcally sound, data-driven approaches to committing resources and fewer, less severe crashes and injuries.
In Pennsylvania, PennDOT’s Highway Safety and Traffic Operations Division evaluated six network-wide safety project implementations between 2011 and 2017 as part of a benefit/cost analysis. The evaluation looked at numerous safety countermeasures and, in every case, showed that benefits outweighed the costs.
DDSA is expected to change how states manage and allocate Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds as well as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) behavioral and enforcement grant funds.
Using web and mobile-based platforms to limit or replace the use of paper and increase collaboration and communication between parties on construction projects is a key component of the e-Construction and Partnering innovation.
There are now over 2,000 iPads in field use by PennDOT employees, and contractor and consultant personnel. Eight construction inspection applications are in use with two more about to be launched. These tools connect back to PennDOT’s core systems, resulting in cost savings through reduced paper, printing and storage costs as well as providing transparency and time savings through online communication. For example, with the development of the PennDOT Project Collaboration Center (PPCC) system, contract submittals can now be completed in a concise system that improves turnaround times and ensures submittals are not misplaced or lost in emails.
PennDOT is currently involved in a STIC Incentive Program-funded project with the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) to study workforce preparedness in e-Construction and Partnering to help foster enhanced collaboration on construction projects.
Applying the right treatment, on the right pavement, at the right time is key to pavement preservation. PennDOT is currently implementing two different innovations related to pavement preservation.
The 6.3mm Thin Asphalt Overlay provides a pavement preservation method that is lower cost than the typical 1.5-inch depth, 9.5mm Superpave alternative, but longer lasting than a micro-surfacing treatment. While currently only available in a polymer modified version for use on high traffic routes, PennDOT is investigating the feasibility of a non-polymer modified version of the overlay material for lower volume roadways.
The Pavement Asset Management System (PAMS) will allow for sound decision making on best possible treatments by providing consistent forecasting means, improved communication between all PennDOT systems, funding optimization, a standard project selection process and accurate cost estimating through a web-based platform. This will allow for a faster and more efficient experience, using lowest life-cycle cost.
Streamlining data collection to help agencies measure and improve incident response and traffic restoration is at the heart of the Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Performance Measurement EDC-4 innovation.
PennDOT’s Traffic Operations Section collaborated with information technology representatives to successfully build a data analytics tool to integrate multiple platforms, data sources and software to formulate an incident timeline. This platform gives PennDOT the ability to calculate and measure incident and roadway clearance times. This innovation also allows traffic operations specialists and other TIM stakeholders to analyze their incident response data to show where improvements can be made and highlights best practices to decrease incident clearance times to restore normal traffic flow faster.
Following the EDC-5 Regional Summit held in Baltimore, Md., in October 2018, Pennsylvania identified four more innovations for deployment. Those EDC-5 innovations include:
The Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE) innovation gives hydraulic engineers new tools to make their jobs easier and more efficient by using 2D modeling to better understand complex flows at river crossings, improving quality and resiliency, enhancing collaboration with 3D computer visualizations, and streamlining project delivery.
Reducing Rural Roadway Departures focuses on the systemic application of proven safety countermeasures on rural roads to help keep vehicles in their travel lanes and reduce the incidence and severity of roadway departure crashes. Rumble strips, clear zones, and friction treatments are among the countermeasures considered.
Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) introduces new countermeasures to increase safety, target investment, and enhance the quality of life for pedestrians. Countermeasures include rectangular rapid flashing beacons, leading pedestrian intervals, crosswalk visibility enhancements, pedestrian crossing/refuge islands, pedestrian hybrid beacons, and road diets.
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, can support various transportation applications from engineering through construction and maintenance, including bridge inspection, surveying, incident response, surveillance and traffic monitoring. Using drones can be a low-cost way of collecting necessary data to support decision making, without putting work crews or the traveling public in harm’s way in temporary work zones.
Pennsylvania continues its effective use of FHWA’s STIC Incentive Program funding to implement innovations across the state. The federal program offers up to $100,000 per state annually, with a 20 percent match from PennDOT, to support or offset costs of standardizing innovative practices. The following three innovations were funded through the 2018 STIC Incentive Program.
PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the Pennsylvania State University are partnering to create a state-of-the-art training and testing facility using STIC Incentive Program funding to help make that vision a reality. This test track will include traffic incident management training, testing for new Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), tolling, and signal equipment, higher-speed and mobile work zone operations training, traffic control testing and evaluation, safety certification opportunities, and smart truck parking applications. It will also provide controlled environments for testing various connected and automated vehicle technologies.
Currently, the PennSTART team is exploring potential locations for the facility and is looking to make a site decision in 2019. The facility is anticipated to be operational in 2022, and will benefit emergency responders, transportation organizations, and research institutions.
One of Pennsylvania’s most significant transportation challenges is reducing the number of poor condition bridges. Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge Systems (GRS-IBS), an Accelerated Bridge Construction method, allows PennDOT and municipalities to build bridges in a quick and cost-effective manner. They can be built using local workforce personnel and equipment to maximize efficiency.
The GRS-IBS method of building bridges involves using closely spaced layers of geotextile combined with crushed and graded stone and concrete facing blocks to construct the bridge abutments. The superstructure (typically beams and deck) are placed on top of the GRS abutments to create the bridge. The alternating soil-geotextile layers continue as the approach backfill to make a smooth transition from the approach roadway to the deck and effectively eliminate the typical “bump at the bridge.”
Since September 2013, over 20 bridges have been completed using GRS-IBS technology, and PennDOT is now working on updates to the current GRS-IBS specification to expand the use of this method to more locations. The effort seeks to expand the current limitations on average daily traffic (ADT) volumes and span length, and explores different ways to protect bridge abutments from stream erosion.
Using 2017 and 2018 STIC Incentive Program funding, PennDOT contracted with Pennsylvania State University to assist with providing justifications for specification enhancements. This contract includes researching specifications of other states, evaluating data, and making recommendations for the updated design standards. Additional data from PennDOT systems and past projects will be evaluated against the goals of the project and will be utilized to update the specification.
This effort will expand the available sites where GRS-IBS can be implemented and help further reduce the number of poor condition bridges in Pennsylvania. GRS-IBS Systems continues to be a cost-effective method to improve the condition of bridges across the state.
Advances in technology have changed the way the transportation construction industry plans and executes projects. New applications and advancements in existing platforms have significantly helped to streamline communication and improved coordination at the construction site.
Using STIC Incentive Program funding, PennDOT and the FHWA, in cooperation with the APC and the PTC are developing a statewide study for PennDOT and PTC employees, and consultant and contractor personnel to determine the level of familiarity with electronic contracting (e-Construction) and communications (Partnering) and understanding how those concepts complement one another to result in quality construction projects.
Two workshops were conducted in July and November 2018 with smaller stakeholder groups to gain an initial understanding of perceptions, capabilities, needs, and concerns. The feedback gathered from the workshops will be compiled with the survey results, and a final report will be released in 2019. The report will identify strategies to support the proper training and skills development to evolve to paperless jobsites, while helping to foster a culture of cooperation and communication among project teams.
The STIC is committed to engaging communities across the state to foster a culture of innovation and deliver transportation solutions that are proven to improve efficiency, sustainability and most importantly, save lives. In 2018, the STIC conducted a survey to gauge local government perception of innovation.
The STIC is committed to supporting a culture of innovation at all levels of government in Pennsylvania. The Salt and Snow Management Course provides a prime example of the power of collaboration between the STIC and local governments. The program was funded in partnership by the PennDOT Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and the FHWA through STIC Incentive Funding. Since 2016, 74 on-site classes were held in 42 counties, providing training to nearly 1,600 participants. The training shares techniques on winter maintenance best practices and promotes operational efficiencies equipping municipalities to better meet Pennsylvania’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) requirements. In addition to providing hands-on training, a webinar and workbook were also developed to extend the impact of the training course by making the information widely accessible to interested municipalities on PennDOT’s website.
Local municipalities face many of the same challenges as PennDOT in delivering a safe, quality transportation network. In 2018, the STIC surveyed municipal leaders to identify areas of need that could benefit from innovation and the main challenges to implementation. The survey results will help the STIC better target its communication with municipalities moving forward.
Survey results were analyzed by region of the state: northwest, north central, northeast, southwest, south central and southeast. Municipalities were also grouped by size based on population. Nearly 500 responses were received from municipalities across Pennsylvania. Regionally, the greatest number of survey responses came from the south central (22.96 percent) and northeast regions (22.75 percent) of the state. Across all regions, small municipalities (population under 2,500) responded the most, with 55 percent of the total survey responses coming from these areas.
The most desired innovations by local governments included stormwater management (60 percent), new paving products (54 percent) and winter maintenance (47 percent). Innovation categories that showed the most varied interest by municipality size were traffic signals and intersections, and safety improvements. Funding was cited as a primary challenge to innovation deployment by municipalities, with equipment and staffing constraints being the next most prevalent challenges.
Thanks to everyone whose contributions of time, talent and effort continue to yield transportation innovation successes making Pennsylvania’s transportation system safer and more sustainable. The dedication of our STIC and TAG members is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to engaging more of our transportation partners and stakeholders in 2019 by growing opportunities through our STIC Moving Forward plan. For more information on the STIC, visit the STIC website or email comments or questions to the STIC Resource Account.