For highway innovation, 2014 was a very good year
Innovation and investment in infrastructure doesn’t take a holiday. Throughout 2014, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been relentless in working with state DOTs to save time, save money and save lives, by encouraging the use of innovative technologies and methods to build roads, bridges and highways better, faster and more cost-effectively.
This was the fourth year of our Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative in cooperation with state departments of transportation and other transportation stakeholders. Through the EDC initiative, innovations are identified and rapidly deployed across the nation to shorten the highway project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce congestion, and improve environmental sustainability.
Take our work with the New York State Department of Transportation on the Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement Project. By streamlining the environmental review and permitting process (and providing $1.6 billion -- the largest single loan made under the TIFIA program), we’re realizing a more efficient and effective project, saving time while driving better outcomes for the environment and local communities. Thanks to this approach, the Empire State should see a shortened timeline for the replacement of the bridge by as much as two to three years.
On July 15, 2014, President Barack Obama traveled to Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center and saw firsthand our work on connected vehicle technologies, while urging Congress to provide states with the highway and transportation funding needed to foster further innovations. “The cutting edge research that all of you are doing here helps save lives and save money, and leads to new jobs and new technologies and new industries,” President Obama told FHWA staff during that visit.
We don’t intend to rest on our laurels. We look at innovation as a challenge that states have not only met but are advancing. To that end, the Department of Transportation has proposed changes to the federal highway program that can make it more performance-based. Ideally, states will be more accountable to the public in their allocation and programming of federal funds to meet performance outcomes of national interest, we will provide the requisite stewardship of those funds, and the traveling public will see a better return on their transportation investment dollars.
As New Year’s resolutions go, it’s a pretty ambitious one.