By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

The COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced the importance of innovation and technology in the sixth round of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Every Day Counts (EDC-6) program. 

“Now more than ever innovation is critical,” FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason said during a Sept. 23 virtual kickoff event. “It is how we are going to advance for all of our stakeholders.” 

EDC was launched in 2009 to speed the delivery of highway projects and to address challenges presented by limited budgets. The state-based model is used to identify and rapidly deploy proven, but underutilized, innovations to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce congestion, and improve environmental sustainability.

Those qualities are especially important as the pandemic hammers state and local transportation agency budgets. Nason said that EDC also could stand for “Every Dollar Counts.” 

EDC-6 (2021-22) is themed “Innovation for a Nation on the Move.” It has seven initiative areas:  

  • Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations 
  • e-Ticketing & Digital As-Builts 
  • Next-Generation TIM: Integrating Technology, Data, & Training
  • Strategic Workforce Development 
  • Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions
  • Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) for Bridge Preservation & Repair 
  • Virtual Public Involvement 

ARTBA General Counsel Rich Juliano was one of three stakeholder panelists to discuss the measures during the virtual event. He emphasized ARTBA’s view that “telling the story of innovation and technology is helpful in advocacy.” 

Juliano also said the workforce development initiative can build on the industry-government Highway Construction Workforce Partnership in the reality of a labor market suddenly widened by the pandemic. And he has noticed the rapid increase of e-ticketing in compiling nearly 70 of ARTBA’s Transportation Project Impacts State-by-State Compilation reports since mid-March. 

Donna Shea, director of the Connecticut Training and Technical Assistance Center at the University of Connecticut, and Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), were the other panelists. Both noted how virtual public involvement has allowed early phase project work to move forward during the pandemic.  

Over its first decade, EDC has advanced over 40 innovations to improve transportation project delivery. It helped establish State Transportation Innovation Councils in every state. 

A free, virtual summit to learn more about the latest initiatives will take place in November, but the date has not been set. Check the EDC-6 website for updates and more details about the program.

Top image: FHWA’s EDC-6 homepage.