New guidelines for accelerating the use of innovative technologies by the highway industry

New guidelines for accelerating the use of innovative technologies by the highway industry

Richard A. McComb


The need to accelerate the integration of new technologies into the U.S. highway system has increased dramatically over the past decade as the Interstate Highway System has neared completion. Because Congress recognized the importance of technology application, it established the Applied Research and Technology (ART) Program. Authorized under section 6005 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, the ART Program began in fiscal year 1992 with funding of $35 million and will receive $41 million per year in fiscal years 1993 through 1997. As called for in the legislation, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed guidelines to carry out the ART Program. The program and guidelines to carry out part of the program are summarized in this article.

The ART Program aims to identify and promote technologies that are designed to improve the durability, efficiency, environmental effects, productivity, and safety of highway, transit, and intermodal transportation systems. Specifically, it will accelerate testing and evaluation of new technologies, both foreign and domestic.


The ART Program, as developed by FHWA, is composed of three elements–priority technologies, testing and evaluation, and applied research. The ART Program elements are summarized in table 1.

Priority technologies

The priority technologies component involves the implementation and evaluation of technologies that are specified in the legislation and other priority new technologies that have been identified by FHWA and proposed for partnerships through general solicitations. The three technology areas specified in ISTEA include:

* Heated bridge technologies.

Projects in this category will

evaluate the costs and benefits

of deck-heating technology on

bridges that may be replaced or

rehabilitated under section 144

of title 23 of the U.S. Code. Nine

projects in seven states were

funded during fiscal year 1993.

* Thin-bonded overlay and

surface lamination of pavement

projects in this category

will incorporate uses of thin-bonded

overlays (including

inorganic bonding systems) as a

part of highway pavement or

bridge repair, rehabilitation, or

upgrading. The projects will be

designed to evaluate feasibility

and costs and benefits; to

minimize overlay thickness,

initial lay-down costs, and out-of-service

time; and to maximize

life-cycle durability. Twenty-eight

projects in 14 states were

funded in fiscal year 1993.

* All-weather pavement markings.

These projects will evaluate

the use of all-weather pavement

markings for durability and

safety Project locations will be

chosen to test the effects of

varying climatic conditions,

snow and ice control operations,

and various traffic characteristics

and pavement types. Seventy-seven

projects in 17 states were

funded in fiscal year 1993.

In addition, two individual projects were planned. A construction project planned for Missouri will use high-performance blended hydraulic cement in highway pavements or structures to evaluate the durability and construction efficiency of this material. Also pending is a project in New Jersey to evaluate the environmental and safety characteristics of elastomer-modified asphalt when used in highway pavement construction.

Test and evaluation

Test and evaluation (T&E) projects involve the full-scale field testing and evaluation of new technologies. T&E projects originating in both the public and private sector will come through the Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC). HITEC will serve as a focal point for evaluating innovative technologies and will provide a valuable network of experts to hasten the transfer of technology into practice. The Guidelines for Implementing the ART Program apply to this program element. (See HITEC article on page 9.)

Applied research

The applied research program promotes identification and development of foreign and domestic technologies and new methods for accelerated testing and evaluation. The program will include a variety of research and development (R&D) activities to develop products and technologies that meet the general objectives of the ART Program. The applied research program element has been used to fund some highpriority research areas, reviews of foreign technologies, and research of advanced topics. The applied research program element is also the key resource for providing technical assistance to states and local agencies participating in the T&E program.

ART Program Scope

A broad range of technologies are to be tested under the ART Program. The ART Program mandate encompasses the following technology areas:

* Materials and procedures that

accelerate construction. Projects

in this category will test and

evaluate innovative uses and

modifications of concrete, steel,

plastics, composites, and other

materials, and innovative procedures

for accelerating construction.

Examples would include

rapid-curing materials, prefabricated

components, plug-in

replacement modules, automated

construction equipment,

and robots and sensors.

* Environmentally beneficial

materials and procedures.

These projects will test and

evaluate the environmental

benefits of alternative materials

and procedures used in highway

planning, design, construction,

rehabilitation, operation,

and maintenance. Examples

would be air quality improvements

and noise abatement

systems for construction, environmentally

benign materials

for vegetation control, and

environmentally safe paint


* Materials and techniques that

enhance serviceability and

longevity under adverse climatic,

environmental, and load

effects. This category includes

strength-enhancing additives or

reinforcements, coatings and

sealers, composite designs, in

situ supplements, and alternative

design or construction technologies.

* Technologies that increase

efficiency and productivity of

vehicular travel This category

includes vehicle and roadway

projects; traffic control devices

and systems; traffic management

systems, strategies, and communications;

information systems;

and computer-based tools that

permit analysis of areawide

surface transportation needs and

operational plans. Examples

include innovative sensing and

information transfer technologies,

operational systems,

software, and other technologies

affecting vehicular travel and

demand management.

* Technologies that enhance

safety and accessibility of

vehicular transportation

systems. Projects that test and

evaluate hardware, software,

materials, equipment, and

systems that address improved

safety and accessibility of

vehicular transportation systems

will be covered by this category

Also included will be design,

construction, and operational

concepts for improved safety or

accessibility of vehicular transportation

systems, such as

guidance and control systems,

visibility and traction improvements,

network operations, and

monitoring and control systems.

Note that Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems (IVHS) technologies are not eligible for this program. IVHS technologies are specifically covered under IVHS programs administered by the Department of Transportation and other agencies; IVHS technologies will be referred to those programs.

Application Process

Proposals for T&E projects are invited from public agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The proposed T&E projects must be incorporated into projects constructed on highways eligible for federal-aid funding. All proposals will be routed through HITEC, which will assist in planning and implementing field tests and in developing evaluation plans for those proposals. Applications for testing will be accepted and evaluations will begin during fiscal year 1994.

ART application requirements will be simple and straightforward to encourage the participation of private innovators who are unfamiliar with the highway market. Proposals will include a project plan, a detailed plan for statistical data collection, a budget that includes itemized total and annual costs, and plans for disseminating the useful results of the project to the transportation community.

Proposal applications for technology testing and evaluation and possible ART funding should be submitted directly to HITEC. Public agencies should refer to HITEC all parties offering new technologies.


Funding for T&E project costs will be shared; the program will provide funds to state highway agencies to finance up to 80 percent of the federal-aid cost to construct those new technologies. The federal share can fund the acquisition, installation, or construction of an approved T&E project. Additionally, project costs for testing, data collection, evaluation, and report preparation are eligible for 100-percent ART Program funding. If the technology fails on an operating highway, repair or replacement costs may be financed with normal federal-aid matching funds. The non-federal share of funding can include the value of materials, equipment, specially trained workers, or other tangible contributions of goods and labor related to the project, as well as a monetary match.

ART Program funding does not pay for the total cost of the construction. The program pays only the contract features and costs additional to or different from the features and costs associated exclusively with conventional projects or technologies. The ART guidelines refer to these as “delta costs” and identify three basic categories of features that may generate such costs:

* Replacement or substitute for a

conventional technology. The

delta costs would be the costs

for the replacement or substitution,

minus the cost of the

conventional technology. An

example would be a new binder

used as a substitute for asphalt

or portland cement.

* Existing technology that has

been modified. The delta costs

would be the costs of the

additional technology and its

incorporation into the project.

An example would be the use

of an asphalt modifier with the

delta costs calculated as the cost

of the modifier and the labor or

equipment cost incurred in

adding the modifier. If the

modification also required an

increase in preparation, handling,

or placement costs over

conventional costs, these increases

would also be considered

delta costs and would be

eligible for funding.

* Entirely new technology added

to a project The delta costs in

this category would be all of the

costs for the new technology to

be incorporated in the project,

such as the installation of a

system for heating a bridge deck

or the installation of a cathodic

protection system for a bridge


Note that delta costs do not include those costs normally associated with project construction, unless they are unique to the new technology in cost and character. For instance, restriping surfaces after overlays or redecking in conjunction with the installation of a bridge deck heating system would not be included in delta costs; however, traffic control during construction might qualify if the duration of construction was increased because of the incorporation of a new technology.

Evaluation Plans

If a technology requires a full-scale field T&E project, HITEC–working with the states–will assist applicants in developing and submitting evaluation plans for T&E projects to FHWA for possible ART Program funding.

Reporting Requirements

Annual progress reports will be required for each project during the third quarter of the calendar year. These reports will provide details about each project with statistical results and summaries of project activities, along with any proposed changes or modifications of the project plan. Both interim and final reports will be required. Final reports will document the project, the data collected, and the testing and evaluation results.

Selection Process and Criteria

HITEC will receive all proposal applications and will perform an initial screening to determine which are technically feasible as T&E projects. Incomplete or unacceptable applications will be returned with a debriefing; others may be routed to more appropriate federal programs. Standard processing for feasible proposals will include the establishment of a review panel, evaluation planning, and an applicant cost-sharing plan. HITEC will then recommend to FHWA those technologies to be tested and evaluated under the ART Program.

Selection by FHWA will be based on the following eight criteria, which are listed in descending order of priority:

1. Applicability of the project to

one or more of the priority or

general technologies.

2. Timeliness of the proposed

project as part of an approved

and funded construction project

involving new construction,

rehabilitation, upgrading, or


3. The clarity of focus and applicability

of the new technology

being evaluated relative to the

areas of need.

4. The level of funding to be

provided by the applicant.

5. The appropriateness of project

costs and budget to the potential

return on investment in terms

of safety, serviceability, productivity,

durability, economy, and

environmental quality.

6. Completeness and technical

quality of the project plan and


7. Suitability of the proposed

location(s) for the technology

being studied.

8. Quality, clarity, comprehensiveness,

and applicability of the

proposed technology transfer



FHWA will announce which T&E projects have been selected for funding under the ART Program early in the first quarter of each fiscal year. FHWA will notify the states of the approved project(s) and the funding amount(s). The states will be requested to develop plans, specifications, and estimates for project construction, which will be the basis for the allocation of federal funds. Funding of the approved projects will be through the normal federal-aid procedures, and funding will be processed through FHWA field offices.


As detailed in the ART guidelines, T&E projects routed through HITEC will provide the funding and technical assistance needed to channel innovative technologies quickly into the highway system. The ART Program has the potential to improve the quality of U.S. highways significantly by matching, testing, and evaluating technologies and projects to accelerate the use of innovative technologies on a national scale.

For more information about this program, please contact Richard A. McComb at the Office of Technology Applications (HTA-2), (202) 366-2792.

Richard A. McComb is a special assistant to the director of the Office of Technology Applications (OTA). McComb manages the Applied Research and Technology Program. A career highway engineer with FHWA, McComb headed the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) Implementation Staff upon the creation of OTA in 1990. In that capacity, he coordinated and planned a national and international marketing program to identify, develop, and promote adoption of innovative technologies and products from SHRP He was chief of the Engineering and Operations Implementation Division at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., from 1987 to 1990. From 1985 to 1987, he was assigned as loaned staff to the SHRP McComb received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the University of Connecticut.

Daniel F. Larson is transportation programs director at Tonya, Inc., a consulting firm that provides full program support to FHWA for the Applied Research and Technology Program. Mr. Larson has more than 20 years of experience managing technical programs for such clients as the Federal Judiciary, the Federal Aviation Administration, AT&T, Baxter International, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. He was a study director and operations analyst at the Pentagon and he directed a government command and control center. He received his bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his master’s degree from the University of Rochester.

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