The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the latest round of transportation innovations through the Every Day Counts (EDC) Program (EDC-7). EDC is a successful state-based program that helps identify and rapidly deploy proven, yet underutilized, innovations that facilitate greater efficiency in project delivery at the state, local and Tribal levels, saving time, money, and other resources to ensure our infrastructure is built better, faster, smarter, and more equitably. As part of the White House’s Action Plan for Accelerating Infrastructure, the Department of Transportation recently committed to expanding the EDC model to more modes of transportation. This year’s innovations are being promoted by FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will improve project delivery across highway, rail, and transit agencies at the state and local level.
“Americans get the best value out of innovations in transportation when they are broadly shared among communities so that good ideas spread across the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With today’s announcement, these innovations will be more rapidly deployed to save lives, protect taxpayer dollars, reduce carbon emissions, and ensure more families, workers, and businesses benefit from the Biden-Harris Administration’s generational investments in our nation’s infrastructure.”
“For over 10 years the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts program has rapidly deployed proven technologies and processes that can be implemented at the national scale,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “We are pleased to announce this latest round of EDC innovations to build on the program’s success with a focus toward advancing key priorities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
EDC-7 innovations will improve safety for all road users, build a sustainable infrastructure for the future and grow an inclusive workforce. Notably, some of the EDC-7 innovations were chosen with multimodal state transportation agencies in mind and are of interest to transit and rail agencies.
“Many of the innovations announced today as part of this forward-thinking program will help make the nation’s transit systems safer, greener, and more equitable,” said Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “We look forward to promoting the findings from these initiatives — from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to leveling the playing field for small businesses to compete for design-build contracts — throughout the transit industry.”
EDC Round 7 Innovations:
Nighttime Visibility for Safety: The nighttime crash fatality rate is three times the daytime rate. Enhancing visibility along corridors, intersections, and pedestrian crossings can help reduce fatalities. This initiative promotes traffic control devices and properly designed lighting to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use public transportation and passenger rail services.
Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management: Technology for Saving Lives: Over six million crashes a year in the U.S. put responders and other vulnerable road users at risk. Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management programs promote emerging technologies such as emergency vehicle lighting and queue warning solutions. These and other tools can advance safety and operations to help keep crash responders safe and mitigate traffic impacts after a crash.
Integrating Greenhouse Gas Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning: Transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. This initiative provides resources to help agencies, regardless of transportation mode, quantify greenhouse gases, and set goals to decrease motor vehicle, construction, and life-cycle emissions through planning and project development.
Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete (EPIC): Cracking in concrete is a limiting factor in achieving long-term concrete performance. Internal curing mitigates shrinkage cracking and has the potential to substantially extend the service life of concrete bridge decks, benefitting travel by motor vehicle and public transit, as well as enhancing the performance of pavements and repairs.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Sustainable Project Delivery: Construction materials such as concrete and asphalt have environmental impacts during their life cycle, whether the transportation facility supports passenger vehicles, transit vehicles, or railroad cars. EPDs document those impacts. This tool helps States support procurement decisions and quantify embodied carbon reductions using life cycle assessments for sustainable pavements.
Rethinking Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in Design-Build: Many design-build contracts do not adequately provide opportunities for disadvantaged businesses. New practices are available to support the effective integration of program requirements to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete for design-build contracts for highway and transit projects.
Strategic Workforce Development: The demand for highway workers is growing under the new investment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and emerging technologies require new skills. This innovation is being implemented by 32 states, with six of those states having institutionalized Strategic Workforce Development as the way to promote career opportunities in transportation. A continued focus on taking this nationwide will help stakeholders across the country improve their ability to identify, train, and place highway construction workers. Innovative approaches will be informed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Labor to foster a diverse and skilled workforce to support infrastructure projects. The focus will expand to rural and Tribal communities to increase career opportunities.
Every two years since 2011 FHWA has worked with State transportation departments, local governments, Tribes, private industry, and other stakeholders to identify a new set of innovations to champion that merit accelerated deployment. The first six rounds of EDC have yielded several innovative project delivery technologies, including prefabricated bridge systems, design-build contracting, project bundling, e-construction (paperless contracting), safety initiatives and more.
The program’s success is based largely on FHWA’s close collaboration with states and local partners through a process whereby states select innovations they want to pursue, then establish performance goals for the level of implementation and adoption they want to reach over the upcoming two-year cycle. Once the selection and performance goals are finalized, they then begin to implement the innovations with the support and assistance of diverse technical deployment teams established for each innovation, including federal, state, and local experts.
Accelerated Innovation Demonstration and State Transportation Innovation Council Incentive programs administered by FHWA complement EDC by providing additional funding and resources to help the surface transportation community accelerate the adoption and standardization of innovative technologies in their programs.
Previous innovations that have been identified and rapidly deployed in EDC-1 through EDC-6 include:
Accelerated Bridge Construction: A suite of technologies, including innovative planning and construction methods, and designs and materials, that allow for accelerated construction of bridges, significantly reducing traffic delays and road closures and often reducing project costs. Since October 2010, transportation agencies have designed or constructed more than 2,500 replacement bridges using these technologies.
Road Diets: Innovative roadway reconfigurations that can help improve safety for motorists and non-motorists on mixed-use streets by reducing vehicle speeds, calming traffic, and freeing space for alternative modes of travel such as biking and transit. A classic Road Diet typically involves converting an existing four-lane, undivided roadway segment to a three-lane segment consisting of two through lanes and a center, two-way left-turn lane. Road diets can reduce collisions, increase mobility and access, and improve a community’s quality of life.
Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP): The application of cost-effective countermeasures with known safety benefits such as refuge islands at pedestrian crossings and rectangular rapid flashing beacons that can help reduce pedestrian fatalities at both uncontrolled and signalized crossing locations. With pedestrian fatalities a continued concern nationwide, this innovation is helping communities improve pedestrian safety and making crosswalks and pedestrians more visible to drivers.
For more information on FHWA’s Every Day Counts program, please visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/.