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Tolling Points

IBTTA's Maintenance, Engineering and Roadway Operations Workshop Delivers Innovation, Adaptability

By: 
Bill Cramer

It’s an exceptional package of innovation, adaptability, and commitment to stewardship, all brought together on a single online platform: When you register for IBTTA’s Maintenance, Engineering and Roadway Operations Workshop July 12-14, you’ll get the benefit of the dozens of years of knowledge and hands-on experience the planning group brought to the task of organizing an exceptional online program.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shifted IBTTA’s annual Maintenance, Engineering and Roadway Operations Workshop to a virtual format, we knew two things: That we would want to offer the workshop free to members to give everyone a clear picture of how good the online experience could be. And that the program would have to exceed all expectations, not only for the session content, but for the networking and connections with vendors that have always been so important to roadway operations teams when they’ve been able to meet in person.

“Thanks to our member volunteers and staff, the content is there. The challenge is packaging the sessions, so they come across in a powerful and effective way in a virtual environment. Fortunately, we have three months’ worth of experience delivering shorter webinars and meetups with an audience as large as 350. Producing 10 hours of programming over two days is challenging, but I think it’s going to work out great,” said IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones.

Pandemic Demands More Bang for the Buck

With agencies across the tolling industry and the wider transportation sector facing serious revenue shortfalls, the pandemic has brought new attention to the importance of a structured asset management program. A Monday afternoon breakout session chaired by John O’Neill, Chief Operating Officer of the Maryland Transportation Authority, will look at strategies for getting more value out of every dollar.

Effective asset management has always been “critical to understanding the true cost associated with our infrastructure assets, including buildings, vehicles, heavy equipment, IT equipment, and tolling systems,” he says. Now, “there has to be a renewed focus on proper asset management as resources and dollars need to be stretched more than ever due to COVID-19 and the resulting shortfalls in revenue.”

“Once an organization has gone through the process of identifying and building attributes for its assets, it can begin utilizing a life cycle approach with guidelines for optimal and minimal condition levels.”

Eric Becker, Director of Roadway Operations at the Kansas Turnpike Authority, says his session on technical trends in maintenance and engineering will bring together innovative ideas on keeping a tolling system in peak operating condition. “We’ll start off thinking about winter, then turn to a tracking system for repairs and preservation of assets.”

Becker points to a standard practice for maintenance and roadway operations professionals that is even more important in a moment of extreme urgency. “Everyone is constantly trying to get better and learn from each other,” he says. But this year’s session topics “are all focused around productivity and savings. With the changes in driving patterns our agencies are seeing, these will be especially important to everyone.”

Adapting on the Fly

Kristi Van Ooyen, Engineering Program Manager with the Maine Turnpike Authority, will lead a session on how agencies can “build a better mousetrap.” She says the pandemic experience demands new forms of innovation to maximize efficiency, safety, and the overall success of the tolling enterprise.

“Transportation agencies have been innovative in the way they deal with weather events and growing traffic demands,” she notes. “But during this pandemic, most agencies saw less traffic, the office work model changed, if only temporarily, maintenance staff had to use new types of PPE and change their routine procedures, and we had to change the way we interact with our customers.” The experience demonstrates that the trend toward “building back better” is all about “exploiting innovative solutions that help toll agencies be flexible and prevail against all the challenges we face, even those we can’t predict.”

Concurrent with Van Ooyen’s session, Craig Bettmann, Senior Vice President, Client Solutions at Schaumburg, IL-based Cogensia, will lead a breakout discussion on using roadway and customer data to drive decisions.

“Data continues to become easier and cheaper to generate, collect, and store,” he said, “at a time when agencies need to leverage data to make better decisions, produce more accurate maintenance plans, get the most out of their assets, and introduce new processes when they’re justified by the data. Many toll operators are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data that they have available. The challenge is to figure out how to use the data to make better-informed decisions.”

“Never has that been more important than during a pandemic that has dramatically altered the traffic volumes and usage of the tolled facilities,” Bettmann adds. “Data is essential to understanding how maintenance schedules and capital projects can be adjusted while still maintaining the safety of the tolled facility, helping to pinpoint areas where budget reductions are possible and where they are non-negotiable.”

With a steady flow of breakout discussions, general sessions, a dynamic vendors’ forum, meeting virtually with exhibitors, and lots of opportunity for networking, the Maintenance, Engineering and Roadway Operations Workshop will give you the information and professional connections you need to keep your facilities safe and your agency thriving—and it’s all on your desktop July 12-14. Please register and alert your colleagues so that they have the opportunity to participate as well.

Register today for IBTTA’s Maintenance, Engineering and Roadway Operations Workshop.

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 11:15

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