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Tolling Points

Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop Stresses Safety, Asset Management

By: 
Bill Cramer

Timothy Scanlon, Director of Traffic Engineering and Operations at the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and Larry Bankert, Jr., Associate Vice President of Toll Services at Michael Baker International, are Co-Chief Meeting Organizers for IBTTA’s Maintenance & Roadway Operations Workshop, June 24-26, 2018 in Harrisburg, PA. In this interview with Tolling Points, they discuss the significant new opportunities in roadway safety and asset management that are opening up for tolled facilities across the United States and beyond.

What are the most important dimensions of roadway safety in this year’s workshop program?

LB: Safety is obviously very important to us—every agency wants to make sure its workers and customers get home safe at the end of the day. The collaboration and partnerships piece of this continues to drive our incident numbers down, and the workshop program shows the importance of working with a mix of experts, from law enforcement to first responders to the agencies themselves.

TS: The most important dimensions include safety patrols, reducing the incident management timeline, connected vehicle applications, and the importance of collaboration and partnerships in operations and maintenance. Our staff is also offering SHRP2 traffic incident management training free of charge for participants in Harrisburg.

How have you seen maintenance and operations practices evolve over the last couple of years, and how is that evolution reflected at this year’s workshop?

TS: One of the interesting issues evolving right now is how we interact with vehicles on the roadway day in and day out, to make connected and autonomous vehicles safe—not only for our workers, but for drivers. There are so many innovative products creeping into our industry. One example is that we’re figuring out how to connect all work zone locations to GPS systems such as Waze, so that the systems can pinpoint the location of our equipment on the roadway.

LB: There are also some major innovations going on in project delivery. In one of our sessions, we’ll have two different agencies, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Maine Turnpike Authority, talking about accelerated bridge construction. We’ll also hear about predictive pavement management systems that can help inform decision-making. Over the last few years, asset management has moved far beyond keeping an inventory and being reactive, using technology tools to set maintenance priorities more pro-actively.

This year’s workshop devotes an entire general session to one very important bridge replacement. What lessons learned do you expect participants to bring back to their own organizations?

LB: It still amazes me to this day that we were able to get the Delaware River Turnpike Bridge reopened in seven weeks and feel comfortable that it was safe to traverse. The biggest thing people will take away is just how much can get done, quickly and effectively, in a short period of time. What it takes is a focused sense of purpose, regular, organized communication, teamwork and working toward that common goal.

What do you see as the key issues and opportunities for maintenance and operations professionals over the next 18 months to two years?

TS: One of the burning issues is how connected and autonomous vehicle technology can improve work zone safety by providing specific information to vehicles, avoiding distracted driving and reducing the number of crashes. I recently rode in an autonomous Uber in Pittsburgh, and when we encountered a work zone, it struggled with that because the information wasn’t readily available in the system map. That information has to be shared deliberately. We can’t assume it will just happen.

LB: Our meeting planning group had a long discussion about whether to organize a session on work force development and succession planning, and I’m glad we decided to. It’s a big challenge that ties in with everything we’ve been saying about using technology and data to make real-time decisions, planning decisions, and design decisions. All of that will require changes in the work force, finding our industry’s next leaders in maintenance and operations, and making sure they’re ready to go.

TS: My son just completed his automotive technician’s certificate, and he says he’s not a mechanic. He’s an auto technician. He uses his laptop at work a lot more than he uses a wrench.

The IBTTA Foundation’s annual community service project is a major highlight of the Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop. What makes Milk & Honey Farms such an important place for participants to contribute their time and resources?

TS: We’re in central Pennsylvania, there’s a strong local farming community, and IBTTA will be making an important contribution by helping a farm owned by a veteran, Tim Wallace, that provides food to local families in need. Tim is a new farmer and there are projects to suit everyone’s skill level.

LB: IBTTA is an international organization and many of our   members have been participating in this event over the past 10 years.  Many members also feel a connection to our military, and the work Milk & Honey Farms does fills a basic need in veterans’ lives. The fresh food harvested at this farm gets to families who need it in a short period of time, so it’s a unique opportunity for IBTTA and the Foundation.

Sign up to today for IBTTA’s Maintenance & Roadway Operations Workshop and/or the Service Project, June 24-26, 2018 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  The spring IBTTA Board Meeting take place June 22-23 prior to the Workshop.

 

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