AASHTO Journal

Wide Range of Highway Research Projects Makes Association’s 2017 ‘Sweet 16’ List

​The association's Research Advisory Committee unveiled its "Sweet 16" list of high-value research projects for 2017, a list that includes four projects from state departments of transportation in each of AASHTO's four regional districts.

A task force chose the 16 projects earlier this summer, and officials from the winning state DOTs described each of them during a July 24-27 meeting in Louisville, Ky., of AASHTO and Transportation Research Board representatives.

The advisory group, or RAC, has been under the Standing Committee on Research. But as part of a broad overhaul of the entire AASHTO committee structure this year, that standing committee will transition into the Special Committee on Research and Innovation, and oversee both the RAC and the AASHTO Innovation Initiative.

Dale Peabody, director of transportation research for the Maine DOT and AASHTO's RAC chair, said the committee "has developed a fun and competitive annual process to collect high-value research projects from our members. This year we reviewed more than 107 projects from 40 states and the District of Columbia. From these, we selected the 'Sweet 16.' This annual process shows that research is truly making a difference" in helping state DOTs improve safety and efficiency, and save on infrastructure costs.

culvertinspect.jpg MnDOT's remote-controlled culvert inspection vehicle.

Following is information about the selected Sweet 16 projects by region. Readers can get additional details on these projects from a brochure titled "Research Makes the Difference 2017: Award-Winning Innovations from State DOTs."

From the Northeast:
-The Connecticut DOT made the list with research on using anti-icing technology to reduce motor vehicle crashes that produce nonfatal injuries.
-A Maine DOT project reported on testing of rivets taken from an aging truss bridge.
-The New York State DOT won with an analysis of energy-efficient highway lighting retrofits.
-Pennsylvania's DOT researched the effects of bridge deck cracking on in-service performance, plus prevention and remediation.

In the South:
-The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department researched alternative uses for ground-penetrating radar in highway construction.
-The Georgia DOT made the list for implementation of automatic sign inventory and pavement condition evaluation on its interstate highways.
-The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development researched the use of roller-compacted concrete over soil cement under accelerated loading.
-Virginia's DOT conducted a structural study of cold central-plant recycling.

2017 Sweet 16 projects from mid-America:
-The Indiana DOT researched site selection for new lighting technologies.
-At the Minnesota DOT, MnDOT hobbyists modified small radio-operated cars called hydraulics inspection vehicle explorers and used them to enhance culvert inspections by taking video deep into the structures.
-The Missouri DOT researched the use of online public surveys and Facebook ads to solicit customer feedback.
-The Wisconsin DOT, in partnership with five other state DOTs across several regions, financially supported the third generation of a Recycled Materials Resource Center to promote and develop technical

Out of the West:
-The Idaho DOT made the Sweet 16 list with a port of entry study.
-The Texas DOT researched use of proactive traffic signal timing and coordination to mitigate congestion on arterial roads.
-Utah's DOT delved into improving cold in-place recycling of asphalt pavements using solvent-less emulsion.
-The Washington State DOT researched use of "flexible bridge" materials – a shape memory alloy along with engineered cementitious composite – to enhance earthquake resistance in bridge support columns.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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