Demonstration Grants Help Deploy Innovations
Change can be daunting. Even when it’s the right thing to do. That’s why, in February 2014, the Federal Highway Administration launched the Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration program. The purpose of this grant program is to spur implementation and adoption of proven innovations. The grants provide incentives to help mitigate the financial risks that transportation agencies encounter when implementing innovative tools or processes.
“State and local governments face a variety of challenges when it comes to adopting innovations,” says Scott Wolf, senior advisor in FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation. “There are a number of barriers to picking up an innovation right away, such as unfamiliarity and increased initial costs. But the demonstration program helps to overcome the challenges of trying an innovation for the first time.”
Awards under the AID Demonstration program support the cost of deploying an innovation on a project, up to $1 million. Unlike most grants that have set deadlines for applying, the demonstration program accepts applications on a rolling basis to meet the intent of providing funding to deployment efforts that are ready to initiate.
“This country’s transportation needs continue to grow, and we need to adapt our infrastructure accordingly by accelerating the use of new technologies and approaches.”
--FHWA Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau
Awards in Action
In just over 2 years since the program’s launch, FHWA has provided nearly $45 million for 60 awards to State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, Federal land management agencies, and tribal governments--all to accelerate the implementation and adoption of innovation in highway transportation.
Although the program welcomes any proven innovations, the majority of applicants choose those championed through FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative, which aims to shorten project delivery, enhance safety, reduce congestion, and improve environmental sustainability. Among the award recipients that have completed demonstrations of EDC innovations are the Oklahoma and South Dakota DOTs, which applied high friction surface treatments to improve traction and skid resistance at critical horizontal curves, and the Michigan DOT, which deployed a slide-in bridge construction method.
The South Dakota DOT used its AID Demonstration award to support its first deployment of a high friction surface treatment. The department focused on four horizontal curves with crash rates two to four times higher than average for the State’s highway system. The four sites experienced an overall crash reduction of 78 percent during the winter weather cycle following the installation.
Similarly, the Oklahoma DOT demonstrated the use of high friction surface treatments on three horizontal curves on I–40 and I–44 in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, more than doubling skid and friction values for the sites.
Every Day Counts
FHWA launched the EDC initiative in 2009 to speed up the delivery of highway projects and to address challenges presented by limited budgets. State and local transportation agencies help to identify proven but underutilized innovations, taking into consideration market readiness, potential impacts, benefits, and ease of adoption. FHWA uses a 2-year deployment cycle to share specifications, best practices, lessons learned, and performance data among stakeholders through case studies, webinars, and demonstration projects.
The Michigan DOT used its award for a slide-in bridge construction project, the State’s first. This approach promised to reduce traffic disruptions and enhance safety during the replacement of the northbound and southbound U.S. 131 bridges over 3 Mile Road in Morley, MI. The technique saved road users an estimated 85,000 hours of delay that would have resulted from conventional construction of the replacement bridges. The grant also provided funds for replacing the M–50 (Alden Nash Avenue) bridge over I–96 in Kent County using slide-intechniques.
For the benefit of the highway community and to support technology transfer, award recipients prepare a final report describing best practices, lessons learned, and the overall performance of the innovation. Those reports are posted on the program’s Web site as they become available.
AID Demonstration Project Final Reports
|Michigan Slide-in Bridge Construction||www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/grants/projects/mi_2014_report.pdf|
|Oklahoma High Friction Surface Treatment||www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/grants/projects/ok_2014_report.pdf|
|South Dakota High Friction Surface Treatment||www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/grants/projects/sd_2014_report.pdf|
More Funding to Come
Through EDC and incentive programs such as the AID Demonstrations, FHWA is accelerating the use of proven technologies and fostering a culture of innovation within the highway community.
“This country’s transportation needs continue to grow,” says Federal Highway Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau, “and we need to adapt our infrastructure accordingly by accelerating the use of new technologies and approaches.”
FHWA soon will announce the availability of additional funding to continue the AID Demonstration program, authorized by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Are you ready to adopt your next innovation? We’re ready to help.
For more information on the AID Demonstration program, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/grants or contact Ewa Flom at 202–366–2169 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on EDC, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts or contact Scott Wolf at 202–366–1325 or email@example.com.
Ewa Flom is a program manager for the AID Demonstration program in FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation.