In 2019, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued the Final Rule on Construction and Maintenance-Promoting Innovation in Use of Patented and Proprietary Products to encourage innovation in the development of highway transportation technology and methods. Per this rule, state departments of transportation (DOTs) are no longer required to provide certifications, make public interest findings, or develop research or experimental work plans to use patented or proprietary products in federal-aid projects. This project provides an overview of the rulemaking and documents through selected case studies describing how the change is being implemented by state DOTs. The case studies revealed that internal DOT processes for use of patented or proprietary products remained largely unchanged following the FHWA rule change, as DOTs continue to require approvals or documentation even though FHWA approval is no longer required. Most participating DOTs agreed that processes have been somewhat streamlined; however, the overall reduction in regulatory burden has been minimal because internal justifications, approvals, or documentation are still required. Most agencies noted that the rule change does have the potential to encourage innovation because it allows increased flexibility for the DOT to approve innovations internally.
Traffic Operations Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, many state department of transportation (DOT) employees with jobs that could be done remotely were ordered to work from home. This occurred very quickly and DOTs had to make a variety of adjustments, such as decentralizing work activities, transitioning information technology support actions to accommodate the new work environments, and, in some states, relocating transportation operations center staff members to their homes. The purpose of this research was to document and share ENTERPRISE Pooled Fund Study members’ initial operational responses to COVID-19 – gathered through phone interviews and a virtual peer exchange – for application to future events or as part of daily operations during the pandemic. It is important to note that the information gathered for this project focuses on ENTERPRISE member agencies’ experiences at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, from March 2020 through April 2021. At the time of this publication, ENTERPRISE members continue to plan and adjust to the prolonged pandemic.
Potential Approaches for Wrong-Way Driving Applications
Wrong-way driving is a growing concern on roadways, especially because resulting crashes tend to be severe and often result in fatalities and serious injuries. Transportation agencies are deploying on-road countermeasures at select locations. However, these countermeasures can only go so far to reduce wrong-way crashes. In-vehicle navigation systems and mobile applications hold significant potential to reduce wrong-way crashes. These interventions could reach many more drivers than on-road countermeasures alone, by providing alerts at all times and all locations while the application is being used. During this project, the ENTERPRISE Pooled Fund conducted outreach to automobile manufacturers and mobile app developers to explore the potential for in-vehicle navigation systems and mobile apps to provide wrong-way driving alerts.
Understanding Infrastructure Operations Impacts Based on AV Demos
Automated vehicle (AV) demonstrations are becoming more widespread, however the infrastructure changes and needs required for AVs may not be clear to transportation agencies. To help ENTERPRISE agencies prepare for future AV demonstrations and operations, this project captured insight from agencies that have conducted low-speed AV shuttle demonstrations and identified the likely impacts of AVs on infrastructure operations. Specifically, this effort focused on low-speed AV shuttles with the intent to understand whether infrastructure changes and the roles of agency and private-sector stakeholders are representative of needs and roles in future, long-term AV deployments.
Information was collected through a literature review and interviews with 12 AV deploying agencies in the United States and Canada. It was found that identified impacts to agency infrastructure and staff vary greatly depending on the use case and AV shuttle provider. The types of infrastructure changes for AV shuttle deployments include pavement markings, signage, roadside units, traffic signal timing adjustments, charging stations, secured parking areas, vegetation management, and modifications to construction schedules. The results of this project include discussion on the nature of these impacts, as well as a discussion on the reasons these impacts may be greater for some agencies than others.