Implementing new technologies and practices that improve safety and performance

TaMara McCrae
Communications and Marketing Specialist
Corporate Research and Technology
Federal Highway Administration
Washington, D.C.

Do you have a need to implement potentially low-cost solutions to safety problems? Do you have costly correctly fill measures from significant settlement? If so, numerous new options are available.

Improving the safety and performance of the nation's transportation network requires using the latest research advances. To ensure that state and local agencies and private industry are aware of the most current technologies, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established an ongoing list of Priority, Market-Ready Technologies and Innovations (T&Is) for which it is actively encouraging deployment. This list represents the select few "ready to use" technologies, products or processes that are likely to yield significant economic or qualitative benefits. Currently, twenty-three Priority, Market-Ready Technologies and Innovations are identified and each has a deployment goal for tracking and measuring the progress in delivering each T&I.

Virginia DOT showcases EPS Geofoam
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and URS Corporation joined FHWA's Resource Center and the Virginia, Florida and Utah Local Technical Assistance Programs to present a one-day Demonstration Showcase at the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and the Capitol Beltway (I-495) in Arlington, Virginia, on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam and recommended field applications—what to do and what not to do.

Participants for the event were initially provided a Geofoam Technology Overview, including the history and recommended applications for this technology and information on field applications and experiences. Participants then got to see a live EPS Geofoam deployment onsite at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project to provide a real-time experience with EPS Geofoam block preparation and placement.

City of Cincinnati, Ohio conducts Road Safety Audit
The City of Cincinnati was considering improvements along the Spring Grove Avenue corridor between Winton Road and Clifton Avenue. The corridor had experienced a high number of crashes, putting the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Winton Road at the top of the City's High Accident Location list, resulting in an above-average collision rate at the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Clifton Avenue. In addition, traffic near the intersection of Clifton and Kenard Avenues had increased to a point where widening Clifton Avenue at the intersection (which would involve bridge widening south of the intersection) was being considered.

This planning-stage road safety audit (RSA) reviewed several upgrades, including:

  • Clifton Avenue bridge widening to accommodate four 10-foot lanes and a 10-foot painted median strip.
  • Traffic signal improvements at the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and West Mitchell Avenue.
  • Other possible improvements to Spring Grove Avenue in connection with the planned upgrade.

Selected suggestions related to traffic signal infrastructure and turn-movement operations and geometry were obtained from the RSA. Some example suggestions include:

  • Align traffic signal heads with approach lanes.
  • Use redundant signal displays.
  • Upgrade all signal lenses to 12".
  • Provide advance warning signs for signals that follow horizontal curves.
  • Use backplates with reflective border.
  • Review the practice of providing protected turn phasing in shared-use lanes.
  • Investigate opportunities for increasing turn radii.

It is important to remember to schedule the field review to observe typical or usual traffic conditions as it allows the RSA team to see how regularly-recurring traffic conditions and road user behavior may affect safety.

TaMara McCrae can be reached at (202) 493-3382 or tamara.mccrae@fhwa.dot.gov.


What is Geofoam?
EPS Geofoam is a rigid plastic engineered with a unit density as low as one pound per square foot, thus delivering a material that is 100 times lighter than most soils. In particular situations this extreme difference in density makes EPS Geofoam an attractive fill option. A lightweight manufactured molded block, EPS Geofoam can be easily cut to any size or shape at the job site. Additionally, as an embankment soil alternative, EPS Geofoam can be covered to look like a normal slope embankment or finished to look like a wall. This technology when properly applied in the appropriate situation is a field-tested, budget-friendly winner. Here is a look at some of the less obvious but very important field-proven benefits:

  • Accelerated construction
  • Payroll, transportation and equipment cost savings
  • Reduced labor time for construction
  • Exerts little or no lateral load on retaining structures
  • Easily constructed in limited right-of-way situations
  • Allows application in adverse weather conditions

For more information on the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam technology, please contact Silas Nichols at (404) 562-3930.

What are Road Safety Audits?
Road safety audits (RSA) are a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent multidisciplinary audit team. These step-by-step procedures can be performed during any or all stages of a project, including the planning, preliminary design, detailed design, traffic control, construction planning or preopening stages. RSAs also can be used on any size project, from minor maintenance projects on an existing road to megaprojects and projects that include the construction of entirely new transportation facilities. Here is a look at some of the important field-proven benefits:

  • Helps produce designs that reduce the number and severity of crashes.
  • Reduces costs by identifying and correcting safety issues before projects are completed.
  • Promotes awareness of safe design practices.
  • Integrates multimodal safety concerns.
  • Considers human factors in all facets of design.

For more information on FHWA's RSA Program, please visit http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/.

For technical assistance on RSAs, please contact FHWA Transportation Specialist Craig Allred (Craig.Allred@dot.gov). For FHWA RSA training information, please contact FHWA RSA Program Support Eloisa Raynault (Eloisa.Raynault@dot.gov).

For more information on Priority, Market-Ready Technologies and Innovations, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/crt/marketready.cfm.