RESEARCH – A Hallmark of IDOT’s Guiding Principles

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Strategic Planning Initiative identifies the department’s guiding principles as Safety, Integrity, Diversity, Responsiveness, Quality and Innovation. Through the lens of IDOT’s guiding principles, we have highlighted several federally funded contract research projects administered and managed through the Illinois Center for Transportation that have had a lasting impact and led to changes in IDOT policy, specifications and guidelines.

SAFETY: Improving the safety of workers and the traveling publicnewsletter

R27-002 (2008) Nighttime Construction: Evaluation of Lighting Glare for Highway Construction in Illinois

This project studied the glare experienced by motorists in lanes adjacent to nighttime work zones. Practical models were developed to enable resident engineers and contractors to measure and control the levels of glare. The results of this study led to the incorporation of Article 702, Nighttime Work Zone Lighting, in the Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction. A major advantage of this new method is that it saves significant costs by not requiring a pavement luminance meter.

INTEGRITY: Doing what’s right and protecting our environment

R27-143 (2015) Tree Establishment in Response to Hydrology at IDOT Wetland Mitigation Sites

The findings of this research identified appropriate tree establishment in restored floodplain forests and created specifications and planting schedules for establishing flood plain forests and standards for planted tree survival. The results of the research were presented to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Lab, Vicksburg, Mississippi.  IDOT’s goal in presenting the research findings was to invoke change in the regulatory agency’s long-held one-size-fits-all approach to restoring forested wetlands.

RESPONSIVENESS: Proactive measures to prevent accidents

R27-090 (2013) National Wrong-Way Driving Summit

The first National Wrong-Way Driving (WWD) Summit was sponsored by the Illinois Center for Transportation and IDOT in July 2013 on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The purpose of this summit was to provide a platform for practitioners and researchers to exchange ideas, evaluate current countermeasures, and develop best practices to reduce WWD incidents through a 4E’s approach (Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Emergency Response). Approximately 130 attendees from 23 states participated in this summit, including states that had already implemented and tested various countermeasures and states in which WWD has been found to be a major concern. Since this original summit, IDOT has gone on to be a national leader in addressing wrong-way driving.

QUALITY: Ensuring high performance and increased service life

R27-077 (2014) Evaluating Pavement Markings on PCC & Various Asphalt Surfaces

The purpose of this project was to develop a pavement marking selection guide based on performance results on both Portland cement concrete (PCC) and hot-mix asphalt (HMA) pavements. The results of this study produced a comprehensive Pavement Marking Selection Guide that is posted on IDOT’s Materials website and used by the Bureau of Construction as check-sheets during construction. The Bureau of Operations also updated its pavement marking policy in Memorandum TRA-14.

INNOVATION: Improving the state of practice

R27-172 Roadway Lighting’s Impact on Altering Soybean Growth

This project is currently ongoing and has been undertaken to investigate the relationship between roadway lighting and its effect on the growth and maturation of soybeans. This project will evaluate light spill into soybean fields in situ and then compare those levels of light to the development, growth, and yield of the soybeans planted in the same field.  The results of the proposed work are expected to produce new recommendations for lighting level based on light source. These recommendations will need to be communicated to lighting practitioners and agronomists in North America and worldwide.


By Ryan Culton, Research Implementation Engineer, Illinois Department of Transportation