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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 2017

Date:
July/August 2017
Issue No:
Vol. 81 No. 1
Publication Number:
FHWA-HRT-17-005
Table of Contents

Innovation Corner

Supporting Agencies at the Local Level

by Robert Ritter

Nearly 39,000 local governments, tribes, and Federal land management agencies are responsible for maintaining the vast majority of the road mileage in the United States. That’s about 3.5 million miles (5.6 million kilometers) of the total network of 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) and more than 300,000 bridges. These agencies face challenges that are similar to their State-level counterparts, such as rising construction costs and making their roads safer, as they seek to invest in needed infrastructure improvements.

“These agencies are looking for innovations and streamlined processes that will help them save lives, time, and money,” says Victoria Peters, director of the Center for Local Aid Support.

That’s where the Center for Local Aid Support can help. One of the centers in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery, the Center for Local Aid Support works to connect local, tribal, and Federal land management agencies to training, technical assistance, and information tailored to their needs. By advancing and promoting technologies and practices that other agencies are applying successfully, the center staff and its resources can provide a real benefit to these agencies as they manage their transportation programs. 

Leveraging Transportation Resources

The Center for Local Aid Support focuses on helping agencies handle the challenges of maintaining, operating, and even expanding their transportation networks amid the increasing pressures of population growth, economic demands, and wear and tear on the existing system.

“Our center is about bringing technical assistance to locals,” says Peters. “Our goal is to ensure that local, tribal, and Federal land management agencies have access to innovative technologies and practices that can save lives, time, and money for a resource-strapped industry, as well as capacity-building training for agencies that are expanding or losing experienced staff through retirement and attrition.”

The center relies on the national network of Local Technical Assistance Program/Tribal Technical Assistance Program (LTAP/TTAP) Centers and FHWA’s Office of Federal Lands Highway to deliver training and technical assistance. As champions of innovation, the Center for Local Aid Support staff members work with other organizations with connections to local transportation—such as the National Association of County Engineers, the American Public Works Association, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials—to identify areas where they can cooperate.

“We’re looking at what services other organizations are delivering,” says Peters. “There’s such a significant need that one agency or group cannot cover it all. We have to leverage the resources that all of us are providing.”

 

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The Center for Local Aid Support provides resources to help local, tribal, and Federal land management agencies apply innovations on projects. Here, attendees of a showcase on geosynthetic reinforced soil-integrated bridge systems visit the construction site of the Sand Creek bridge replacement project in Crook County, WY, to see the innovation in use.

 

Learning from Peers

The center manages the Coordinated Technology Implementation Program, a cooperative technology deployment effort for Federal land management agencies that pilots proven technologies to solve transportation-related problems. Through technical briefs and webinars on the results of the pilot projects, the center shares knowledge with local agencies and tribes so they can apply proven approaches on their own projects.

“We want to showcase these ideas so individuals can build on the experiences of their peers and be a catalyst for agencies to try something new,” says Peters. “Our experience shows that what works in one location will probably apply somewhere else in the United States.”

Another example of innovation at work is the winning entries in the annual LTAP/TTAP Build a Better Mousetrap National Competition, which highlights solutions to everyday challenges encountered by local and tribal transportation workers. The winning entries include processes, tools, and equipment modifications—many developed by local staff in their shops—that enhance safety, efficiency, and quality and reduce cost.

The Center for Local Aid Support is a central location for information and innovative ideas and for leveraging the training and resources of other organizations. “It’s a grassroots approach to innovation,” Peters says. “We’re transforming local aid support. We’re here to help. Give us a call!”

For information on the Center for Local Aid Support, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovativeprograms/centers/local_aid or contact Victoria Peters at 720-963-3522 or victoria.peters@dot.gov.


Robert Ritter, P.E. is managing director of FHWA’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery.