With traffic congestion and delays a top concern of motorists nationwide, accomplishing needed roadway construction and rehabilitation work rapidly and with minimal public disruption is a must for today’s highway agencies. Helping states meet the goal of “get in, get out and stay out” is the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) program.
Initiated by the Transportation Research Board, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials and the FHWA, ACTT brings state highway agency staff together with national experts in a range of skill sets for a three-day workshop. At the workshop, participants identify innovative approaches to reducing time, costs and congestion for a planned highway project while improving safety, quality and roadway performance. Thirty-one workshops have been held to date across the country.
As of winter 2006, six ACTT projects in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, Tennessee, Montana and Minnesota had either reached or were approaching the letting or construction stage, with one project complete. All six states report significant savings or vital lessons learned as a result of the ACTT process.
The I-20 rehabilitation project in Louisiana was the first ACTT project to reach completion. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) awarded the contract in August 2005, and construction was completed less than a year later in March 2006. The DOTD adopted several recommendations from the workshop, including utilizing full-bridge closures as much as possible and incorporating innovative contracting methods. These recommendations helped reduce the construction time from the proposed 225 days to 125 days.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) also realized positive results from their ACTT workshops. Since WYDOT held a workshop for its U.S. 287/26 project in September 2004, the agency has implemented recommendations from the workshop’s construction, geotech, environment and public relations groups on the two project segments that have been let. WYDOT also is exploring recommendations for other segments still in the design phase. The major innovation adopted from TDOT’s ACTT workshop for its I-40 project pertains to the design of the project’s signature bridge. Instead of pursuing the original design, which featured intermediate columns on either side of the roadway, TDOT decided to lengthen the spans and use caisson footings in order to limit the amount of work directly adjacent to the road. This decision shortened the construction time and is expected to lessen the effects on the traveling public.
Because the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) conducted an ACTT workshop late in the development process for a project on U.S. 93, incorporating geotechnical and structural recommendations was not feasible. However, MDOT still implemented a range of ACTT suggestions, including prioritizing parcels for acquisition and instituting penalties for impacts to designated “do not disturb” areas. Similarly, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) conducted an ACTT workshop for the I-35 W/TH-62 Crosstown Commons project in Richfield and Minneapolis after the completion of the geometric layout. Mn/DOT benefited from a range of ACTT recommendations, including using innovative financing methods and establishing a pre-construction critical path method.
For more details on the recommendations and best practices resulting from the ACTT projects to date, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/accelerated.