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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - July/August 2016

July/August 2016
Issue No:
Vol. 80 No. 1
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Hot Topic

A Commitment to Innovation

by Thomas Harman

The Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials have a long history of collaborating on the deployment of innovations and technologies to shorten project delivery, enhance safety, reduce congestion, and improve environmental sustainability. Recent examples of this collaboration to assist State and local transportation agencies with implementing new processes include the partnership of the AASHTO Innovation Initiative (AII) and FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program.

The two programs encourage State and local agencies and their partners to try innovations and make them standard practice. The initiatives emphasize using proven marketing approaches and dedicated teams to deploy innovations faster and more effectively. Some also offer incentives to implement innovations or to demonstrate the use of new tools, techniques, processes, and training. As a result, the partnership of AASHTO and FHWA has created a culture of innovation within the transportationcommunity.

Innovation Leadership

In 2001, AASHTO created AII, then known as the Technology Implementation Group, to identify proven advancements in transportation technology and to accelerate their adoption. Each year, the program selects a group of worthwhile, but underused technologies, processes, software, or other innovations to promote as focus technologies. AII then increases the use of these technologies through peer-to-peer exchanges among States.

The EDC initiative, launched by FHWA in 2009 in cooperation with AASHTO, aims to shorten project delivery times and accelerate deployment of market-ready innovations. Every 2 years, FHWA introduces a new round of a dozen or so proven innovations. FHWA then encourages agencies to adopt those that fit their needs and offers technical assistance and training to help with deployment.

In 2014, AASHTO selected e-Construction, where all administration of construction projects is paperless, as a focus technology. Stakeholders deliver construction documentation, including signatures and other approvals, electronically.


During the 2016 AASHTO spring meeting in Des Moines, IA, FHWA Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau (left) and AASHTO Executive Director Frederick G. "Bud" Wright signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the relationship between AASHTO's Innovation Initiative and FHWA's Center for Accelerating Innovation.


As a result of the collaboration between AASHTO and FHWA, e-Construction was also chosen as an innovation for deployment in round 3 of the EDC initiative for 2015–2016. State department of transportation leaders in e-Construction, supported by AASHTO and FHWA subject matter experts, then conducted workshops, peer exchanges, and webinars to encourage adoption of e-Construction across the country. In the first year of EDC-3, the number of States regularly using e-Construction grew from 1 to 6, with an additional 19 States piloting or assessing various e-Construction tools. The success achieved in 1 year is a testament to the impact that collaboration can have on accelerating deployment.


"The partnership of the AASHTO and FHWA has created a culture of innovation within the transportation community."

- FHWA Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau


Formalizing the Commitment

On May 25, 2016, AASHTO and FHWA signed a memorandum of understanding formalizing their collaboration in the solicitation, identification, selection, and deployment of proven innovations and technologies. The memo also provides for FHWA support of AASHTO in testing and evaluating technologies to assess their readiness for potential deployment in future EDC rounds.

“The bottom line of this arrangement is that it will keep feeding the innovation pipeline and furthering the work we’re doing together to find and deploy innovative solutions,” says FHWA Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau. “In signing the agreement, we signify our sustained commitment to innovation and are elevating a great partnership to a fantastic joint venture.”

Stemming from the newly penned partnership, AASHTO and FHWA announced a new peer awards program to recognize excellence in advancing innovation by the States. Additional details on the awards will be released soon, and the inaugural awards will be presented at the AASHTO annual meeting in November 2016 in Boston, MA.

The signing of the memo and creation of a peer awards program clearly demonstrate the mutual commitment of AASHTO and FHWA to fostering a culture of innovation within the transportation community.

For more information, visit and or contact Thomas Harman at 202–366–6377 or

Thomas Harman is director of FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation, which administers EDC and leads the development and coordination of additional strategic programs to deploy innovations.