The US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $8.8 million in grants for 10 projects in eight states and the District of Columbia to encourage the use of tools that can improve safety on bridges and in work zones.
The grants, which can also be used for other innovative transportation technologies such as ultra-high-performance concrete to digital mapping programs, are provided by FHWA's Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration program and complement President Biden's Investing in America agenda that is rebuilding our nation's infrastructure and creating a manufacturing and innovation boom.
"Innovation is essential for the future of transportation infrastructure and these grants will help our State, local, and Tribal partners to improve safety, increase the resilience of our transportation infrastructure, and combat the climate crisis," said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt. "The grants, along with additional funding from the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will bring more innovations to America's road, highway, and bridge projects."
The AID Demonstration Program, with funding provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides incentive grants and other resources to offset the risk of implementing transportation innovations. The incentive funding, distributed through a competitive discretionary grant process, allows Tribal Governments, State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), Federal land management agencies, and local governments to accelerate the implementation and adoption of innovation in highway transportation and demonstrate state-of-the-art technologies. Metropolitan planning organizations and local governments can also apply in partnership with State DOTs.
The program is housed within FHWA's Technology and Innovation Deployment Program, and supports the dissemination and deployment of proven transportation innovations through any phase of a highway transportation project including project planning and delivery and system operations.
Since the AID program was launched in February 2014, FHWA has awarded more than $95.7 million for 127 grants to help agencies speed up their use of innovative practices, tools and technologies, including those supported under FHWA's Every Day Counts (EDC) program. EDC is a State-based program model that identifies and rapidly deploys proven yet underutilized innovations that will more quickly make the US transportation system adaptable, sustainable, equitable, and safer for all.
Out of 10 projects total, the following grants were awarded to support technology implmentations:
■ Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), in conjunction with Maricopa County, will use its $970K grant for the “Next Generation Freeway and Arterial Work Zones” project that will deploy smart work zone technologies in order to share real-time data from active construction areas that can improve agency monitoring processes, enhance safety for workers, and improve traveler information tools.
■ Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) and Buena Vista County will use a $1 million grant on Validated Intelligent Compaction and Geospatial Data Collaboration technologies to map and identify Iowa’s gravel road network and create an asset management tool.
■ Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) will used its $800K grant to improve the management of data through the use of sensors, social media platforms, third-party data providers, and specially developed mobile apps. Maine DOT also expects the project to provide insights on how to recognize, respond to, and analyze incidents statewide.
■ Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) will use its $1 million grant to start an asset management program for retaining walls that are currently undocumented. The project will establish a comprehensive database for tracking, inspecting, and rating the walls. It will also develop a planning tool to guide MDT decision-making, improve infrastructure resilience in response to climate change, and minimize adverse effects on low-income and minority populations caused by detours and road closures in the future.
■ North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will use its $532,500 grant to deploy oversize vehicle measuring system technology.
■ Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will use its $1 million grant to deploy Traffic Speed Deflection Device technology to collect data on the structural condition of pavements using a non-contact doppler laser without the need for traffic control.
FHWA expects to announce the next round of AID Demo grant funding soon.