Innovation pays off

May 21, 2010

Judges of the ATSSA Innovation Awards had a tough job ranking the many innovative products this year.

“There were so many good things out there. I could not have predicted the outcome,” Bob Felt told Roads & Bridges. Felt is the safety outreach specialist at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Judges of the ATSSA Innovation Awards had a tough job ranking the many innovative products this year.

“There were so many good things out there. I could not have predicted the outcome,” Bob Felt told Roads & Bridges. Felt is the safety outreach specialist at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Felt and two other judges visited the booth of each of the vendors with a product in the competition. They had three prime questions in mind: Does the product address a known safety problem? Is the product cost effective? And what potential does the product have for saving lives?

To answer the three prime questions and find out how innovative the products really were, Felt asked the vendors to explain how their product differed from a product that is already on the market.

“I asked leading questions to try to get them to tell me more about it,” he said.

“They didn’t know I was judging,” Randy Damron, special events coordinator for the West Virginia DOT, told Roads & Bridges. “They were just answering questions as if I were a consumer of the product. Each of them had a story to tell, and they were all rather convincing.”

Felt, Damron and Jon Jackels of the Minnesota DOT were the three judges chosen by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA). They gave the judges a list of the vendors and the products in the Innovation Awards competition, told them to rate the products on the three prime questions on a scale of 1 to 5 and gave them six hours on the Traffic Expo floor.

“After we had completed the judging, we went into a room and had some great dialogue, compared notes,” said Felt.

“The ones that were chosen, all three of us had given high marks to,” added Damron.

What follows is a brief description of each of the products featured in the New Product Showcase.

First place: Impact Recovery Systems
Impact Recovery Systems Inc., San Antonio, Texas, won first place for its Omniped/Solestrian Centerline Pedestrian Sign. The in-street pedestrian crosswalk sign adds to pedestrian safety by being four-sided. Along with the usual two sides showing stop or yield signs to vehicular traffic, Impact Recovery Systems added two narrow sides containing pedestrian messages, such as Look Both Ways or Walk Bicycles. The sign stands 47 in. tall. The vehicle-facing panels measure 10 x 24 in. and use 3M high-intensity retroreflective sheeting. The signs are equipped with an “anti-twist” feature that prevents them from being twisted sideways.

Impact Recovery Systems’ pedestrian sign addresses the problem of pedestrian injury and death. Six thousand pedestrians are killed every year and another 90,000 are injured, according to Impact Recovery Systems’ brochure.Circle 920

Second place: Telegra Inc.
The LED Variable Speed Matrix from Telegra Inc., Orlando, Fla., took second place. The displays work in several configurations with multiple power options and durable construction for reliability. The display features advanced optics, a graffiti-resistant sign face, bright, energy-efficient message displays and full-matrix, true-type font capability.

Third place: Versilis Inc.
Third place went to the SwiftGate Automated Lane Closure System from Versilis Inc., Laval, Quebec. SwiftGate is a remotely controlled lane-closure system. The system consists of a series of pivoting gates or signs, solar panels and control boxes. It can be activated with a radio unit, a cell phone or a web-based application. When activated, the gates swivel into place in as little as five minutes, blocking traffic more effectively than regular delineation markers such as barrels or cones.

Screw-in base
The DP 200 Spinner Screw-In Base for the new DP 200 channelizer post, from Pexco/Davidson Traffic Control Products, allows workers to quickly install or remove channelizer posts by screwing them into or out of a metal anchor embedded in the roadway.Circle 923

Pavement marking remover
With the Stripe Hog SH5500, the operator can stay in the cab, out of traffic and remove pavement markings with a smaller, more economical waterblasting machine. The new machine, from Waterblasting Technologies Inc., is half the size and half the price of the company’s previous models, so it can be operated without the DOT regulations and commercial driver’s license needed for larger machines. High-pressure water removes pavement markings, then a vacuum system recovers the water and debris.

Flagger sign
The Safety Sentinel 18 flagger sign uses LED lights 40% brighter than other signs.

Thirty LED lights are positioned on each side of the Slow or Stop sign, which meets all MUTCD requirements with the LEDs on or off. The lights can be switched to shine steadily or flash. The sign, from Safety Sentinel Technologies LLC, St. Augustine, Fla., contains a rechargeable battery with an estimated 60 hours of power. A 72-in. quick-disconnect stand pole is available with reflective tape.

High-visibility clothing
Dicke Safety Products introduced additions to its line of high-visibility clothing. The company has added a long-sleeved, hooded sweatshirt; a winter stocking cap; reflective leggings; a public safety vest; a windbreaker; and a survey vest. The clothing meets ANSI 107 and 207 standards.

Water-cable barrier
The Sentry Water-Cable Barrier combines the benefits of a water-filled barrier and a steel-cable barrier. Four 9.5-mm-diam. stranded steel cables are integrally molded into the ends of the plastic barrier wall. Each barrier section is 72 in. long and designed to be linked together to form a portable longitudinal barrier. Upon impact, the plastic container ruptures and disperses the contained water. Simultaneously, the internal cables provide the strength to safely catch the misguided vehicle, preventing vehicle intrusion into the work zone. The barrier, from TrafFix Devices Inc., provides positive separation between vehicles on the roadway and workers in the work zone and meets NCHRP-350 crashworthy test requirements for TL-1, TL-2 and TL-3.Circle 927

Inventory tracking software
The MUTCD requires municipalities to implement an asset-management system beginning in 2012, so Traffic & Parking Control Co. (TAPCO) came up with DataLink and SignIt inventory tracking software. DataLink field software collects information from the RetroSign GR3 retroreflectometer or from a manual inspection of the location, identity, sheeting and retroreflectivity of signs in the field. SignIt inventory tracker holds a history of installation, maintenance, incident reports, work orders and assignments.

Traffic robot
Tests prove that the Traffic Robot can be seen from much greater distances than ordinary signs, according to Traffic Robots LLC. The device has flashing LEDs and arms that wave continuously for attention. It is laminated in high-intensity reflective orange sheeting. The unit is available with a solar panel, plus long-life batteries, so it can store enough energy to run 120 hours. The Traffic Robot is light enough for two people to lift into a truck or for one person to wheel into place.

Pavement marker
The Solar Vision 2 pavement marker is up to 10 times as visible as a standard reflective raised pavement marker, because it uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of retroreflective materials. It has a solar collector to capture the energy needed to power the LEDs. The maker of the Solar Vision 2, Lightspeed Road Solar, a startup company based in Westminster, Colo., said the marker won’t dim, break or dislodge from its place embedded in the pavement. It will function for up to 330 hours on a charge, and with a profile of only 2.5 mm above the pavement, it will stand up to being driven over by a steel snowplow blade. It needs eight hours in full sunlight to build a complete charge, but it will recharge even in low light.

Waterborne coating
Ride-A-Way is an epoxy-modified, acrylic, waterborne coating specifically designed for the colorization of preferential lanes such as bike lanes or bus lanes on streets and highways. Skid resistant, environmentally safe, durable, color stable and available from Flint Trading Inc., Thomasville, N.C., in a variety of colors, the coatings are easy to apply on asphalt and concrete pavements.

Automated flagger
The AF-100 automated flagger can be controlled by a single person by radio control from a safe distance out of traffic. It is a two-trailer, portable system for work-zone traffic control. The gate arm is designed to slip if lowered onto a vehicle and pivot backward if hit by a vehicle to prevent damage. The AF-100 from Synergy Technology LLC, Albermarle, N.C., operates via a failsafe sequential control and features a computer conflict monitor to confirm that there is never an option for both traffic lanes to be open. Uses red- and yellow-signal lights.

Barrier/delineator lights
Solar Safety Technologies LLC also uses LEDs in its Solar Barrier Light and Solar Delineator Light. The Solar Barrier Light makes road barriers, such as guardrail, more visible to drivers. They can be installed in minutes, according to the company, and the built-in LED is visible up to a half-mile away, so they create a clear view of the road’s curves. The Solar Delineator Light uses a sun-powered LED to increase the visibility of a delineator post. On a single charge, the lights last up to three nights in steady mode or 10 nights in flashing mode.3

Retroreflective garments
After 40 years of touting the advantages of microprismatic retroreflective trim over glass-bead retroreflective materials, Reflexite Americas has decided it is better to offer both options to its customers.

“The addition of a glass-bead product to the Reflexite Garment Trim product line will allow workers the best of both worlds at an affordable cost without forgoing their safety needs,” the company said in a statement.

Because glass-bead trim was a totally new product for Reflexite (which makes the reflective trim, not the garments), the company found a manufacturing partner to make the materials to Reflexite’s standards, a representative of Reflexite told Roads & Bridges. The company etches Reflexite’s diamond-shaped logo onto the material, so garment buyers know where the retroreflective trim came from and whom they can hold accountable if there is a problem.

Striping equipment
The ThermoMark II Navigator by Advanced Striping Equipment Inc., Douglasville, Ga., is the first self-propelled aluminum thermoplastic striping machine. The design allows for the mobile application of all marking.

Vertical tower
The Allmand Bros. Inc. Maxi-Lite V Series vertical tower features a rugged and wider body trailer, longer running time, added auxiliary power and the convenience of the vertical tower.Circle 936

Airport glass beads
Premium Bright Big Airport Glass Beads from Daqing Lutong Science and Technology Co. Ltd., Daqing Heilong­jiang, China, are larger and brighter. Sizes are from 850 to 2,360 um. Refractive index is from 1.90 to 1.93.

Glass-bead intermix system
Visilok is a glass-bead intermix system that improves the dry time of waterborne paint so that drop-on glass beads are not knocked out by the abrasion of passing traffic. Visilok, by Potters Industries, is a combination of a drying agent and glass beads and can double the speed to reach the “no-track” condition.

Waterborne acrylic binders
With the acquisition of Rohm and Haas, Dow Coating Materials, Philadelphia, is the premier supplier of Fastrack waterborne acrylic binders to paint manufacturers to produce rapid-drying traffic paints for a broad range of applications.

Vented safety helmet
The new Serpent vented safety helmet from Gateway Safety Inc., Cleveland, Ohio, is lightweight and ultra comfortable, with a cushioned brow pad and six-point nylon suspension system. Hi-viz colors include yellow, orange and green.

Speed bump
The Solar Speed Bump from Hormas Hersan S.A. DE C.V., Leon, Mexico, is a solar traffic-calming device with LED and Eyes Cat Reflector made of engineering plastic to reduce speed in school and residential areas. It is visible at high distances and maintenance free.

Pavement-marking remover
The Groove-It Fast Pack from Smith Manufacturing Co. Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla., removes pavement markings faster with a new diamond blade or a full-width carbide cutter pack available for embedding stripes or installing markers using grinding trucks or walk-behinds.

Directional display
The 2SL from National Signal Inc., Fullerton, Calif., is a low-profile, truck-mounted directional display.

Fluid movement
The Powrliner 2800M from Speeflo/Titan Tool Inc., Plymouth, Minn., features a new fluid section with a slower-stroking piston rod and larger displacement for a longer performance life. The updated cart configuration is compact and highly maneuverable.

Blinker system
The LED-enhanced Solar Sequential Chevron Blinkersign System gives automobiles approaching a dangerous curve the reaction time to approach it safely. This vehicle detection-activated system from Traffic & Parking Control Co. Inc. (TAPCO), Brown Deer, Wis., can run completely wireless.

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