Along the Road
Along the Road
Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community.
Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let’s meet along the road.
Public Information and Information Exchange
FHWA’s PANDA to Advance Data-Driven Innovation
|PANDA is expected to extend FHWA’s capabilities by using diverse research findings to address the varied needs of FHWA’s disciplines.|
The Path to Advancing Novel Data Analytics (PANDA) is a data science laboratory being established at the Federal Highway Administration’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA. PANDA will be both a physical and virtual space, providing access to cutting edge analytic tools—including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)—for research across multiple transportation disciplines. FHWA personnel, other agencies, and external partners can utilize PANDA to conduct research using their own data or Federal datasets. “It is commendable that a government agency is leading in establishing an AI/ML lab, which is usually done by private industry,” says Vidya Mysore, a senior multi-disciplinary program specialist at the FHWA Resource Center.
PANDA will enable testing and application of new and novel analytic techniques developed through other research efforts. Though PANDA will be a neutral site where traditional and non-traditional data sources are tested and where analytics will be segregated so that there’s no interference with normal IT operations, PANDA is expected to extend FHWA’s capabilities by using the diverse research findings to address the varied needs of FHWA’s disciplines.
Two projects are underway to establish PANDA. The Minimum Viable Product project and the Initial Operating Capability project will provide a connection to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s common operating environment and cloud-based analytics tools, and will provide means for cataloging use-cases into datasets, respectively. The common operating environment standardizes IT across USDOT and promotes consistent cybersecurity practices. The Initial Operating Capability project will be developed spanning FHWA’s Infrastructure Research and Development (R&D), Operations R&D, Safety R&D, Transportation Policy Studies, Highway Policy Information, Freight Management, Environment and Planning disciplines.
FHWA will initially operate the PANDA lab for two years after its opening in 2022. A report will then be produced, summarizing the operation of PANDA, lessons learned, and research conducted.
Keep It Moving: New Mexico’s First Continuous Flow Intersection
|Screenshot from an educational video NMDOT published to help drivers understand how the State’s first continuous flow intersection works.|
New Mexico’s U.S. Route 550 (U.S. 550) Corridor is a well-traveled, local, and regional roadway. In November 2021, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) reached a significant milestone on this roadway with the debut of the State’s first ever continuous flow intersection (CFI)—an accomplishment two years in the making.
New Mexico’s CFI was strategically placed at an intersection on U.S. 550—between New Mexico State Road (NM) 313 and NM 528—to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion. The CFI is also projected to contribute to the economic development of surrounding areas like Bernalillo, Santa Ana Pueblo, and Rio Rancho.
With the use of new traffic signals, the CFI uses a green light to allow southbound traffic and northbound traffic to turn left and safely cross oncoming traffic—concurrently, a red light signals oncoming traffic to stop. Eastbound and westbound traffic navigate into newly built lanes on the far left-hand side of U.S. 550. Northbound turning vehicles will no longer have to stop at the intersection and can continuously flow into traffic.
Because this CFI is the State’s first, NMDOT developed a driver education video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHiN6yhHGOo) and simulations to help drivers become more familiar with the intersection. For more information on the U.S. 550 project, visit https://keepmoving550.com/.
PennDOT Updates 511PA, Adding Charging Stations and Customizable Alerts
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently updated 511PA—a free, 24/7 traveler information service designed to provide detailed and reliable traffic, transit, and weather. More specifically, 511PA offers news on roadway and bridge closures, weather alerts and forecasts, rest facility locations, active roadwork, live traffic cams, and more.
With the latest updates to 511PA, PA motorists are able to create even more personalized alerts, including selecting the type of alerts they would like to receive versus receiving all alerts. Categories include incidents, roadwork, general travel information, travel restrictions, and weather-related alerts.
Commercial drivers can benefit from two enhancements tailored to their needs. 511PA now includes locations for all bridges under legal height (less than 13 feet, 6 inches or 4 meters, 15 centimeters). This information can be viewed on the 511PA web map and is also available as an alert that can be heard in drive mode in using the 511PA mobile app. Another added feature in the mobile app is the ability to obtain alerts based on a driver’s mode of transportation, whether it is a commercial or passenger vehicle. If commercial vehicle is selected, low-bridge and vehicle restrictions reports are turned on in drive mode by default.
511PA now also allows users to search for electric vehicle charging stations by connector type.
Information from 511PA can be accessed in several ways—by phone, the 511PA mobile app, social media, and online at https://www.511pa.com/.
|511PA offers news on roadway and bridge closures, weather alerts, rest facility locations, live traffic cams, and more.|
FHWA BIM for Infrastructure Study Examines Better Project Delivery
The Federal Highway Administration’s Global Benchmarking Program (GBP) champions the usage of proven, global technology innovations and best practices that improve highway transportation. One such innovation and best practice is Building Information Modeling (BIM)—a collaborative, digital approach for optimizing the design, construction, and life cycle of a project.
Once considered just for buildings, BIM is rapidly gaining acceptance in the building of transportation structures (e.g., highway and bridges), known as BIM for Infrastructure. With BIM, projects are built virtually and in real life, which enables the recognition of mistakes or challenges early on and the visualization of solutions. Upon completion of the project, the structure becomes part of a virtual collection of the asset data that an organization can use for future construction, decisionmaking, maintenance, operations, and asset management.
FHWA completed a National Strategic Roadmap (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/pavements/21064/index.cfm) of structured activities to advance BIM for Infrastructure in the United States. This effort has been followed up with a pooled fund, TPF-5(480), that will build off the foundational work charted within the roadmap.
A recent GBP study documented how six foreign nations and their public agencies use BIM to better deliver transportation projects, manage assets, and provide related services. In studying these nations—the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom—GBP noted several key components and lessons for successful BIM implementation. Its benefits were recorded as well: cost savings and cost avoidance in the design, construction, and operations phases of a project; improved asset information, storage, and accessibility; and improved strategic transportation project planning.
For more information on the international study, visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/pavements/22048/22048.pdf. For more information on TPF-5(480), visit https://www.pooledfund.org/Details/Study/707.
|BIM for Infrastructure life cycle for projects that use a design-bid-build contracting.|
Crash Reports Now Available Online through NDDOT
In March 2022, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) began offering a more rapid way of receiving crash reports.
Available at https://www.dot.nd.gov/crashreport, an online delivery system replaces the State’s former, more time-consuming process, where request forms were printed, filled out, signed, and sent by mail to NDDOT. Now, insurance companies, law firms, citizens, and other individuals involved in vehicle crashes within the State, can obtain State of North Dakota crash reports, virtually instantaneously. When using the online service, at least two of the following pieces of data are required: The date of the crash, the motorist’s last name, and the county the crash occurred. To further narrow large yielding results, users can enter in additional information such as the license plate number of the vehicle involved in the crash.
The online delivery system, however, only provides reports for traffic crashes that are reportable to NDDOT; a reportable crash in North Dakota is defined as a motor vehicle traffic crash which results in injury, fatality, or at least $4,000 in total property damage. This definition also comes with an exception: Crashes involving undomesticated animals (deer, bison, bear, wolf, moose, etc.) where no injury or fatality occurs, regardless of the property damage amount, are not reportable.
|Insurance companies, law firms, citizens, and other individuals involved in reportable vehicle crashes within North Dakota can now obtain crash reports online.