December 1, 2020
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The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Special Committee on Research and Innovation recently saluted the winners of its “Sweet 16” awards, which recognizes state DOTs’ high value research or HVR projects implemented in their state within the last fiscal year.

[Above photo by the Louisiana DOTD.]

AASHTO’s Research Advisory Committee selected four HVR projects each from four regions across the country to comprise its “Sweet 16” winners list. Those HVR projects are funded primarily through the State Planning and Research or SPR program, which is funded by the Federal Highway Administration to address top transportation concerns and identify solutions at the state level. States then further address areas of common concern through the Transportation Pooled Fund program.

Photo by USDOT

[Editor’s note: The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently issued a 44-page report recommending ways the U.S. Department of Transportation can improve how it “defines and monitors progress” towards long-term research and development goals.]

One winner is the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, with its Louisiana Transportation Research Center division taking home a “Sweet 16” award for a research project investigating e-construction inspection technology called HeadLight.

Currently 74 percent complete in the process of being implemented statewide, the agency said HeadLight significantly improves the efficiency of field inspectors and their project teams by allowing vast amounts of data to be collected electronically as opposed to traditional methods of manual transcription, with information, pictures, and videos taken in real-time through a cloud-based mobile application.

Louisiana DOTD’s Wilson

“LTRC spent the last two years researching ways to increase productivity throughout the department without increasing work hours [and] this system not only improves the quality of field data collection for our inspectors but allows for an increase in time savings and data volume,” noted Shawn Wilson, Ph.D., Louisiana DOTD’s secretary, in a statement.

“We estimate that when this program is adopted statewide, roughly 117,000 hours of man power will be saved each year allowing for that time to be reallocated to other priorities,” he added.

“From the pilot research through statewide deployment, none of the 187 projects using this technology had any approved claims, which is tremendous,” Wilson said. “This award is a testament to the dedication and commitment our employees show on a daily basis.”

editor@aashto.org

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