Trucks at Work

New highway improvement shop hangs out its shingle

A new “one stop shop” opened its digital doors this week to help state highway officials and others build better roads at lower cost, find ways to reduce traffic congestion, and beef up roadway safety.

Called the National Operations Center of Excellence or “NOCoE,” it will serve as an “electronic forum” for lack of a better term to provide what its founders describe as an “array” of peer exchanges, webinars, assessments, on-call assistance, and training on topics such as integrated corridor management, active traffic management, traffic management centers, and incident response.

“It’s our goal to provide support and information about effective operations and management practices, so transportation agencies can better utilize taxpayer dollars,” noted Dennis Motiani (at left), the former assistant commissioner for transportation systems management for the New Jersey Department of Transportation who will serve as the NOCoE’s first executive director. “The knowledge sharing benefits of the Center are critically important as we enter a period of rapid technological shifts in transportation.”

Formed in just two years by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the NOCoE is designed to serve the needs of both public and private entities working to improve the operational performance of the transportation system.

“Our expectation is that the Center will provide resources to improve the transportation experience of the traveling public to enable them to get where they want to go in a timely, safe, and reliable manner,” added Thomas Brahms, ITE’s executive director and CEO.

“This new partnership brings together the transportation community’s different perspectives by sharing best practices, good and bad experiences to form lessons learned as well as engaging a network of peers to improve the operation of the transportation system for all users,” he noted.

And boy oh boy is such information sharing needed, especially in light of the current state of our roadway infrastructure. Consider some of these stark facts collected The Road Information Program (TRIP):

  • About 14% of America’s major roads are in poor condition.
  • Driving on roads in need of repair costs U.S. motorists $94 billion a year; the tab for extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, which translates into some $444 extra per motorist annually.
  • About 25% of America’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
  • Some 44% of America’s major urban highways are congested, with traffic congestion costing American motorists $121 billion a year in wasted time and fuel.
  • Vehicle travel on America’s highways increased by 38% from 1990 to 2012, while new road mileage increased by only 4%.
  • By 2030, TRIP expects a further 25% increase in overall traffic and a 64% increase in large commercial truck traffic.

Let’s hope the new NOCoE shop helps foster some new ideas – and hopefully low cost ideas at that – to help our nation solve some of those pressing transportation issues.

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