In June, the Texas State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) met for the third time since its inception in 2016. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) co-hosted the Austin event, with 110 transportation personnel attending. The STIC brings stakeholders together semiannually to facilitate more rapid deployment and implementation of new technologies, strategies and methods that have demonstrated success in real-world scenarios.
Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers presented updates on eight out of thirteen projects selected by the STIC, all of which will likely receive additional TxDOT and FHWA support as their products and recommendations are adopted across the state. Four other universities participated as well.
“The STIC meeting is a great venue for research products to gain traction for implementation,” says TTI Associate Director Bill Stockton. “We’re always happy to have an opportunity to highlight innovations and get the word out about TTI research ready for the next steps.”
Co-chaired by TxDOT Director of Strategy and Innovation Darran Anderson and FHWA Texas Division Administrator Al Alonzi, the STIC is composed of 25 individual members who span the private and public sectors from across the state.
“We want to find ways to take innovative ideas and adapt them to the way we do things here in Texas, so it’s not just one large urban area using something,” says Alonzi. “Local agencies and the private sector are included, and we’re all coming together collaboratively to find the best ways to improve transportation for the citizens of Texas.”
The TxDOT Research Oversight Committee and the FHWA Texas Division Office review and recommend projects from their respective research programs to be discussed at the meeting. FHWA selects projects from its Every Day Counts Initiative to receive implementation support from the STIC. Recommended projects must be innovative and show the promise of significant benefits if implemented statewide, institutionally and across multiple transportation organizations.
FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation can award an incentive budget of $100,000 each year to a project nominated by the STIC. This year, the STIC selected the TTI-TxDOT implementation project Accelerated Traffic Incident Management Data Collection to Improve Overall Traffic Incident Management as its first project for which to request incentive funding. In Texas, traffic incident management (TIM) programs are being used to shorten the duration and impact of incidents through coordinated actions and policies among different first-responder agencies, including law enforcement, fire and EMS services, and medical examiners. Gaps in recording aspects of incident management performance remain, however, resulting from a lack of data integration and analysis tools.
Led by TTI Associate Research Scientist Jeff Kaufman, the project involves a team of researchers working with the multiple TxDOT districts, toll road authorities, the department’s Traffic Operations Division, the Texas Department of Public Safety and FHWA to increase the amount, consistency and quality of TIM data collection. Improving TIM data will support development of performance measures for evaluating and improving traffic incident response.
“While this project will identify how we can improve the quality of TIM data collected,” says Kaufman, “it will also give us a better understanding of how we respond to incidents throughout the state and what is truly needed to clear our roads faster.”