IDOT’s Research Reset

The last year has been very eventful for IDOT’s research program, with many changes and opportunities.

The current intergovernmental agreement between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the University of Illinois’ Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) expires on June 30, 2017. Over the past 18 months, IDOT and ICT have been collaborating on a new agreement to allow IDOT to continue its long association with ICT to administer and manage the department’s state-level research program.

In February 2016, IDOT underwent a comprehensive restructuring to improve coordination and collaboration between the various modes, from planning to delivery to operations. This restructuring had a huge impact on the research program, as IDOT management of the program was moved to the new IDOT Bureau of Research. In August 2016, LaDonna R. Rowden, P.E., was named the Acting Bureau Chief of the new bureau. With a strong background in pavement design, materials, and management, Rowden is uniquely qualified to oversee the revitalization and expansion of the IDOT research program, including internal-, state-, and national-level research.  The Bureau of Research currently consists of the Research Coordination Unit which manages the federally funded research program; the Pavement Technology Unit which monitors pavement performance, including non-destructive testing, and maintains department policies on pavements; and the IDOT Policy and Research Center Library which provides knowledge and information management.

With the reorganization of the department, the membership of the IDOT-ICT Executive Committee has also changed.  Deputy Secretary for Program Development Aaron Weatherholt is the committee chair, and Office of Planning and Programming Director Erin Aleman is the vice-chair. A full listing of committee members can be found at (link to ICT page).

With the new IGA in its final negotiations, the IDOT-ICT Executive Committee approved 13 new projects for funding in FY18. These projects are in addition to the 22 currently active projects that are extending into FY18 and beyond.

Following are the new projects that will be starting in Summer 2017:

  • Alternative Noise Barrier Approvals
  • Dynamic Travel Time Estimation for Northeast Illinois Expressways
  • Bridge Decks: Mitigation of Shrinkage Cracking – Phase III
  • Effectiveness of Exterior Beam Rotation Prevention Systems for Bridge Deck – Phase II
  • PCC Pavement Mixes with High Cement Replacement Rates
  • Updated and Unified StreamStats Peak Flood Discharges for Streams of Illinois – Phase III
  • Size and Shape Determination of Rip Rap & Large Sized Aggregates Using Field Imaging

Following are the RFP projects that will be advertised after July 1, 2017 and are scheduled to start January 1, 2018:

  • Evaluation of On-site and In-situ Treatment Alternatives for Contaminated Soils
  • Evaluating the Beneficial Effects of Winter Maintenance Best Practices on Water Quality
  • Evaluation of the Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) Resurfacing Policy for State Maintained Highways Other Than Interstates
  • Work Zone Fatality and A-Injury Crashes “Density” and/or “Exposure” Quantification
  • Pavement Surface Treatments for Ice-Prone Locations in the Illinois Highway System
  • Evaluating the Accuracy and Use of Drilled Shaft Integrity Testing Methods in Illinois

Even as new projects start, the department is planning technical advisory group (TAG) meetings for Summer 2017. At these meetings, TAG members will discuss potential research needs for our next funding cycle. These needs will be posted on the ICT website by August 15, 2017, allowing potential principal investigators to submit research problem statements until October 1, 2017. The TAGs will meet again in Fall 2017 to review proposals and select the projects for Executive Committee review and approval in February 2018.