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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 - Summer 2022

Date:
Summer 2022
Issue No:
Vol. 86 No. 2
Publication Number:
FHWA-HRT-22-004
Table of Contents

Innovation Corner

Every Day Counts: Innovations With Impact!

by Jeffrey Zaharewicz

"Photo of warm mix asphalt installation. Image Source: FHWA."

Warm mix asphalt saves time and money, improves pavement quality, and benefits workers and the environment.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Transportation Workforce Development and Technology Deployment is deep in the planning process for Every Day Counts (EDC), the agency’s flagship technology deployment program. The seventh round of EDC (EDC-7) is scheduled for 2023 and 2024 and will highlight the next portfolio of market ready and proven, yet underutilized, practices and technologies. The process of identifying these innovations brings with it a sense of reflection on the many past initiatives EDC has helped advance into more widespread and mainstream use.  

Warm Mix Asphalt a Game Changer

One of the earliest EDC initiatives may also be one of the most impactful to the transportation industry. Warm mix asphalt (WMA) is the generic term for a variety of technologies that allow producers of hot mix asphalt pavement material to lower the temperatures at which the material is mixed and placed on the road. Using WMA can reduce paving costs; extend the paving season; improve asphalt compaction; allow asphalt mix to be hauled longer distances; and improve working conditions by reducing exposure to fuel emissions, fumes, and odors. This technology saves time, promotes good stewardship of human and environmental resources, and enhances project quality—all hallmarks of EDC innovations. 

As adoption increased, WMA was considered a “disruptive” technology and a “game changer,” as it required physical modifications to asphalt mixture plants and significant adaptation of existing specifications. By the December 2012 conclusion of the first EDC cycle, the WMA deployment team celebrated the achievement of their implementation goal—40 State departments of transportation and all Federal Lands Highway Divisions had either a specification or contractual language allowing WMA on projects. The impact of using WMA has only continued to grow since: utilization of WMA technologies in 2019 was 879 percent more than the estimated 16.8 million tons in the 2009 construction season, and asphalt produced with WMA technology made up 38.9 percent of the total estimated asphalt mixture market as of 2019.

Significant STEPs FoRRRWD in Safety

Safety has been a cornerstone topic throughout the history of EDC—so much so that FHWA hosted the virtual September 2021 Safety Summit Series to highlight seven EDC safety initiatives. This peer exchange included professionals just beginning to learn about those safety innovations, as well as those further along in their deployment journey. Among the initiatives highlighted at the 2021 summit were the Focus on Reducing Rural Roadway Departures (FoRRRWD), which aims to address the nearly 12,000 people who die every year in crashes when their cars leave their travel lane on a rural road, and Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP), which is advancing the systemic application of proven, cost-effective countermeasures to help reduce pedestrian fatalities at both uncontrolled and signalized crossing locations.

As many other EDC initiatives have done, both FoRRRWD and STEP promoted a toolkit of resources and countermeasures that are adoptable by a wide range of transportation agencies. Both deployment teams also employed highly creative and innovative marketing tools, including printable trading cards to explain rural roadway departure crash types and countermeasures, and the STEP UP Campaign, which provided downloadable information for agencies to use in customized news articles, social media posts, and print items. The teams used these tools, in concert with other targeted training and technical assistance activities, to help 42 and 51 States, respectively, achieve their deployment goals. 

These examples are merely a snapshot of the significant positive impact the EDC program has made in accelerating the deployment of innovations and in building a culture of innovation within the transportation community. FHWA is excited to continue the track record of positive impacts with EDC-7. Look for more information in upcoming Innovation Corner features!

Useful Links:

EDC 2021 Virtual Summit (available through September 2022) https://www.labroots.com/ms/virtual-event/2021-edc-virtual-safety-summit-series.

FoRRRWD: https://highways.dot.gov/public-roads/winter-2021/reducing-rural-roadway-departures-moving-forrrwd-part-ii.

FoRRRWD trading cards: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/forrrwd/TradingCards/.

STEP: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_5/step2.cfm.

STEP UP toolkit: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/step/step_up_campaign/.

Jeffrey Zaharewicz is the acting director for the Accelerating Innovation program team in the FHWA Office of Transportation Workforce Development and Technology Deployment.

For more information, see https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/ or contact Jeffrey Zaharewicz at jeffrey.zaharewicz@dot.gov.