TRP Chair Spotlight: Thomas Winkelman

Tom Winkelman, Local Program Development Engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Central Bureau of Local Roads and Streets, has served on a number of Technical Review Panels (TRPs) for studies conducted by ICT on behalf of IDOT, including the following recent projects:

  • Drainage Laws Update (R27-SP23): The goal of this special project was to update IDOT’s guidelines on highway drainage laws. The ICT research team, under the guidance of Winkelman and the project’s TRP, developed a manual, Illinois Drainage Law Related to Highways and Adjacent Landowners. The manual addresses general legal principles related to drainage and drainage improvements and is intended for use by local public agencies.
  • Development of Low-Water Crossing Design Guidelines for Very Low ADT Routes in Illinois (R27-148): The low-water crossing project resulted in guidelines for determining the best design for low-water crossings that meet traffic needs of low-volume routes; maintain the natural channel function; permit free passage of water, sediment, debris, and wildlife; and are both safe and cost effective. These design guidelines will be modified and incorporated into IDOT procedures at some point in the future.

In recognition of his work, Winkelman received the TRP Chair of the Year Award in March at the 2017 Transportation and Highway Engineering Conference. According to colleagues who nominated him for the award, Winkelman is a thoughtful, focused, and organized TRP chair who guides IDOT research toward an implementable outcome and in achieving results that offer significant benefits.

Winkelman graduated from the University of Missouri–Rolla with a B.S. in civil engineering in 1999. He worked at IDOT for eight years in the Central Bureau of Materials and Physical Research, leaving in 2007 for a job in private industry. He returned to IDOT in 2010. In his current position at IDOT, Winkelman oversees the Local Planning and Programming Unit and the Local Policy and Technology Unit.

The Local Planning and Programming Unit is responsible for distributing federal and state funding allotments to local public agencies, including monthly motor fuel tax distributions. This unit also maintains the annual and multi-year local program portions of IDOT’s Multi-Year Highway Improvement Program. In addition, it serves as the central clearinghouse for all highway jurisdictional transfers between IDOT and a local public agency or between two local public agencies.

The Local Policy and Technology Unit maintains and updates IDOT’s Bureau of Local Roads and Streets Manual—including updates to design and construction policies and changes in material requirements or specifications. This unit reviews all experimental features for materials or construction practices proposed by local public agencies. It is also home to the Technology Transfer Center, which is responsible for education and training of local public agency staff on the latest changes in IDOT policies and procedures, as well as providing many standardized training courses.

“My capacity in all this,” says Winkelman, “is to oversee these functions and make sure we are meeting external deadlines established by the Federal Highway Administration as well as internal deadlines for various planning and programming functions.

“I try to ensure we are using the funding and appropriation assigned to the local portion of the annual and multi-year programs to the fullest extent. I also try to make sure we are up to date on the latest policies and procedures and in offering courses to local public agencies on topics they would like to learn about.”