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Tolling Points

IBTTA Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

By: 
Bill Cramer

Jim Wilson is Chief Meeting Organizer for IBTTA’s 2015 Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop, May 31-June 2, 2015 in Oklahoma City, OK. In this interview with Tolling Points, Wilson talks about the issues, challenges, and opportunities tolling agencies face on the front lines, where the rubber hits the road.


Tolling Points: What do you see as the biggest issues facing maintenance and roadway operations in today's tolling agencies, across the U.S. and around the world?

Jim Wilson: There are three main concerns that have an impact on tolling agencies, and on all surface transportation agencies around the world. The first is an increase in traffic, especially truck traffic. More vehicles traveling more miles put a greater strain on our infrastructure. The increase in shipping due to the global economy only adds to that strain. The second is a lack of funding, which when coupled with the first concern really creates a number of challenges that have no simple solutions. The third is safety. It remains our highest priority to get our patrons from point A to point B in a safe and efficient manner.

Tolling Points: How does the workshop program address those issues?

Jim Wilson: The workshop is all about information sharing. IBTTA President Javier Rodriguez’ theme for this year is The Business of Mobility, and that theme is advanced in part by the industry practitioners who are the backbone of our industry. We face common challenges that we can address head on by exchanging ideas, approaches, and lessons learned. When we look holistically at the biggest issues facing maintenance and roadway operations, it’s really about doing more with less, which is why we have a specific session dedicated to doing just that.

Tolling Points:
What will participants take away from the technical tour during the workshop?

Jim Wilson: The technical tour is an opportunity for our host agency, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, to showcase some of its projects, and for participants to learn from the Oklahoma experience. Tour participants will get to see the new six-lane expansion project on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike, the reconfiguration of the Hefner Parkway Bridge to accommodate six lanes, the PIKEPASS Customer Service Center, a fully equipped Oklahoma Highway Patrol vehicle and motorcycle, and OTA’s newest snow removal equipment. The technical tours always provide a more in depth and up-close view that you just can’t get through a PowerPoint presentation.

Tolling Points: What are you most looking forward to seeing, hearing, or learning while you're onsite?

Jim Wilson: We’re trying out a new format this year. In years past, we produced separate tracks for maintenance and roadway operations, but attendees were truly interested in both aspects. To provide a cleaner delineation, cover more topics, and appeal to a wider audience, we’ve set up an equal split of general, technical, and management sessions. The technical sessions provide specific, on-the-ground details on how problems are addressed. The management sessions focus towards higher-level approaches, policies, and issues facing the industry. The program as a whole covers a broader spectrum of topics, while still delivering the valuable information this workshop has been known for.

Tolling Points: What are the most important opportunities and lessons learned that keep participants coming back to the annual Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop?

Jim Wilson: I think it’s that “light bulb” moment when you can take something you just heard, apply it to your specific situation, and immediately see the benefit shine through. I look for it in every session and I experience it every year. I also see it in others, whether they’re sitting in the sessions, standing in the exhibit hall, or just in random moments surrounding the social events. This workshop brings together industry experts and individual practitioners who are all passionate about their work. The light bulb moments are inevitable, and it’s a great feeling to not only experience one, but to see it happening for colleagues.

Tolling Points: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Jim Wilson: I’m very excited about this year’s service project. We’ll be going to White Fields, a 140-acre campus of residential cottages and facilities that cares for abused and neglected boys under the custody of the State of Oklahoma. For the first time, we’ll be able to work alongside the same people we are helping, and a tremendous amount of work and planning has already gone into the event. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Turnpike Authority have really stepped forward to ensure this will be a worthy and valuable contribution. It’s our way of saying thanks to the host community and serving as stewards of our industry, and this year’s service project will be a great opportunity to be a part of something truly special.

Sign up today for IBTTA’s 2015 Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop, May 31-June 2, 2015 in Oklahoma City.

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