Project Spotlight Archive

OTHER SPOTLIGHTS 2012 and older

ICT Helps Local Agency Implement Pavement Management System

ICT Deploys Pilot Project in the Cicero-Midway Smart Corridor to Evaluate Traffic Monitoring Technologies

ICT Developing Thin, Long-Lasting High Friction Surface Layer

ICT Promotes Green-Friendly Practices for Interstate Rest Areas

ICT Educates Responders about Highway Incident Management

ICT Provides Hands-on Training and Demonstrations to Prevent Negative Effects of Water Runoff and Erosion from Construction Projects

ATREL Test Pavements Will Provide Valuable Insight Into Hot-Mix Asphalt Designs

ICT Provides Recommendations to Improve Work Zone Layouts

ICT Study Aims to Reduce Wrong-Way Driving on Freeways

ICT Revisits Illinois Earthquake Resistance Strategy

Incident Management

Eroson Control

ICT Develops Sensor to Detect Scour Depth Under Bridge Piers

Bridge scour is caused by the interference of bridge piers with the flow of water and can cause bridge failure. ICT developed a simple and cost-effective fiber optic scour sensor capable of monitoring and providing quantitative characteristics of both scour depth and flow processes that will allow for better monitoring of scour and therefore better bridge maintenance.

ICT Evaluates Joint Durability from Early Entry Sawing


Early entry sawing is an attractive operation to expedite the construction of jointed concrete pavements, especially in urban areas where contractors need to “get in, get it done, and get out.” ICT investigated whether this method provides value to IDOT construction projects without affecting the pavement’s long-term joint durability.

ICT and USGS Develop Illinois StreamStats

ICT and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) teamed up to develop Illinois StreamStats (ILSS). ILSS is an accurate, reliable, and effective web-based tool for estimating flood quantile and determining a consistent set of basin characteristics which will reduce the time, resources, and costs required to determine flood plains, design bridges and culverts, and plan and manage the state's water resources to protect water quality and supply.

Minimizing Work Zone Crashes

ICT supports research to study driver behavior and improve the set-up of work zones. Currently, ICT is using statistically based research on work zone crashes in Illinois to recommend possible strategies to improve traffic control standards and specifications in our work zones. Examples of the strategies under investigation include innovative merge techniques and adding rumble strips prior to work zones.

ICT Introduces Erosion Control Research and Training Center

ICT recently established the Erosion Control Research and Training Center (ECRTC) on the UIUC campus to demonstrate erosion, sediment, and storm water control practices suitable to Illinois conditions. This facility will be used for hands-on training, to demonstrate proper installation and evaluation techniques, and to initiate research to assess the applicability of erosion control and best practices for storm water management for relevant IDOT construction site conditions.

ICT Develops Courses for Distance Learning

Online course delivery provides necessary training at lower costs and increased convenience. Therefore, ICT is developing course content for distance learning in an online environment for several key, high-benefit IDOT technology transfer courses and short courses.

ICT Validates Laser Scanning Technology

The use of laser scanning equipment to produce 3-D representations of objects and surfaces is a new technology that has significant potential for monitoring highway and bridge construction activities. The results of recent ICT research validated this technology for several applications in highway construction.

Thin is In with Asphalt Pavements

 ICT is developing a design for thin asphalt pavements that utilizes locally available aggregate materials as much as possible. Thinner pavements and shorter hauling distances will save time and money. Additionally, the new thin surface layer will be designed for better performance regarding noise, durability, and friction, which provides more engineering benefits in terms of life-cycle cost.

Spring is in the Air: ICT Conference Focuses on Air Quality

The ICT sponsored the Midwest Transportation Air Quality Summit at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois. The participants of this conference discussed the current and upcoming challenges affecting both transportation and air quality planning in the Midwest. The conference proceedings were recently published as a report on the ICT Publications Page.

ICT Evaluates Snowplow Simulation Training

 Ongoing ICT research is set to answer several questions about training IDOT snowplow drivers through simulation. Is simulation effective and, if so, how effective? How do drivers respond to simulation training and would they recommend it for other drivers? Is it cost effective versus other training methods? Does it improve driver efficiency and, if so, by how much?

ICT Evaluates Speed-radar Photo Enforcement (SPE)

ICT evaluated the effects of speed-radar photo enforcement (SPE) on speed and degree of speeding in work zones and compared them to the results from other speed-control methods that included law enforcement presence in work zones. The final report determined the net effects of using SPE to improve work zone safety.

Characterizing Illinois Aggregates

ICT characterized the strength, stiffness, and deformation behavior of three crushed and uncrushed aggregate materials, i.e., limestone, dolomite and uncrushed gravel, commonly used in Illinois for subgrade replacement and subbase. The study used both laboratory and field performance to develop aggregate thickness correlations with aggregate properties to modify and improve the thickness requirement curve in IDOT's Subgrade Stability Manual.

New Design for CRCP Pavements

 A continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP) is constructed without man-made transverse contraction or expansion joints and contains spliced longitudinal reinforcing steel bars. Illinois has used CRCP since the mid-1950s. However, this type of pavement has been known to develop transverse cracks. An ICT study developed a new CRCP design process based on mechanistic-empirical principles and recent findings.

IDOT Documentation Certification Training

ICT recently opened registration for the 2009-2010 Documentation of Contract Quantities class. This course assures well-trained, prequalified consultants to perform construction inspection in Illinois. This course is also offered to full-time IDOT and local agency personnel, which helps ensure that quality construction and documentation practices are followed throughout the state.

ICT Investigates Lifting Loops

 Prestressing strands, bent into loops and cast within beams, are the most common anchorage system used for handling precast deck beams during bridge construction. These embedded anchors are also known as lifting loops. A recent ICT study developed a standard for the fabrication, embedment, anchorage, and use of lifting loops in precast deck beams with an emphasis on shallow precast members that are 11 and 17 inch deep.

ICT Investigates Alternate Intersection Designs

Roundabouts, which work on a yield-at-entry principle, cause slow traffic instead of stopping traffic thus reducing the delay caused at the intersection and providing a much safer environment for pedestrians and bicycle users. ICT research developed design and site selection guidelines for roundabouts in Illinois.

ICT Research Develops Cost-Effective Scour Sensor

 Bridge scour, the erosion of steam bed material around the bridge foundation, is responsible for many of the bridge failures in the United States. An ICT project developed a fiber optic scour sensor capable of monitoring and providing quantitative characteristics of both scour depth and flow processes, i.e. rate. This sensor will allow for better monitoring of scour and therefore better bridge maintenance and safety.

Safer Rolling Lane Closures

Recent ICT research on moving lane closures identified the specific hazards that make this traffic control technique inherently dangerous and the effect of specific design features (such as truck spacing) on driver behavior. The research resulted in an improved understanding of traffic patterns and driver behavior near and around rolling lane closures.

Updating the Illinois Carbon Monoxide Screen for Intersection Modeling (COSIM)

A recent ICT project facilitated the release of an updated version of a computer screening model to accurately predict carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations for proposed roadway projects affecting signalized intersections.

ICT Investigates DeKalb County Bridge Collapse

ICT considers itself constantly "on call" to provide a quick turnaround when IDOT needs immediate answers. For example, ICT rapidly responded to conduct an evaluation of a bridge that collapsed in DeKalb County. ICT provided DeKalb County with the information necessary to determine the likely cause of the collapse of the structure and recomendations for future capacity analyses of bridges with timber columns.

Evaluation / Modification of IDOT Foundation Piling Design & Construction Policy

A pile is a heavy beam of timber, concrete, or steel driven into the earth as a foundation or support for a bridge. Accurately estimated pile lengths, before bridge construction, are important because an overestimated length results in wasted materials and an underestimated length results in delays and downtime while more materials are obtained. Recent ICT research on piling design and construction policy has resulted in recommendations for a more accurate pile estimating method that will reduce pile waste, save time, and reduce contractor uncertainty.

Signal Systems Testing

A video detection system (VDS) is an application based on video processing technology that detects vehicles within a camera's field of view. ICT research compared the detection performance of three commercial video detection systems (VDS) at a signalized intersection under a wide range of illumination and adverse weather conditions. The results will help IDOT to procure functionally compliant VDS at competitive prices and mitigate detection errors during adverse weather.

ICT Goes Green: Recycled Asphalt Pavement

 Agencies in Illinois are attempting to use up to 50% recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) in HMA to realize an economic savings. However, any structural behavior and durability differences from a standard IDOT HMA resulting from the recycling operation have not yet been addressed. Therefore, ICT is examining the effect of high RAP contents on mixture structural and durability properties.

ICT Evaluates Performance of Recycled Concrete

 The state of Illinois first used recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) twenty years ago to rehabilitate a section of I-57. A recently published ICT report summarizes and documents this pavement section's performance and compares it to similarly aged and trafficked continuously reinforced concrete pavements (CRCP) in Illinois.

Analyzing Warehouse Operations in the Chicago Metro Area

 Intermodalism is the movement of goods or products by two or more of the transportation system's components. Intermodalism has explosively grown in Northeastern Illinois over the last 15 years, which has led to an increase in warehousing, especially regional distribution center (RDC)-scale warehousing. As a result of these developments, ICT sponsored a study and recently published a report that provides primary research data and analysis on heavy truck trip generation and characteristics of RDCs and similar facilities.

Optimizing Tack Coats for Better Pavement Bonding

The overall strength and stiffness of a pavement depends not only on each individual pavement layer, but also on the bond between the layers. Tack coat material provides a necessary bond between an underlying cement layer and a new hot-mix asphalt layer. This bond ensures that various pavement layers work together to support traffic and withstand environmental conditions. A recent ICT study quantified the impact of several parameters on the bonding condition at the pavement interface.

Accurate and Efficient Pavement Evaluation Using ANN Models

 To improve the process of utilizing the Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD), which is shown to the left, ICT has proposed and tested the use of Artificial Neural Network (ANN) techniques to predict pavement layer properties from FWD deflection data and predict critical pavement responses to loading.

These newly developed models more rapidly and accurately determine existing pavement layer properties. Additionally, ICT developed user-friendly software for the ANN models.

Evaluation of HMA Overlays in Illinois

 A recent ICT study examined the performance of hot-mix asphalt (HMA) overlays in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has evaluated the performance of these pavements in Illinois in a variety of studies over the years. However, since those studies were conducted, several changes in IDOT practices, policies, and procedures have resulted in a need to reassess the performance of HMA overlays in Illinois.

Truck Parking Facilities Program Design

 The ICT recently completed a study to examine the current state of truck parking and rest area facilities in the Northeast Illinois Region to determine if and how problems from truck parking affect freight transportation infrastructure, safety, and the region's economy and environment. The investigators completed a taxonomic study of truck traffic volume and truck parking availability and conducted interviews with state, county, and municipal authorities, and truck drivers.

Reflective Cracking: Evaluating Control Systems in Illinois

 The ICT introduced a method to better identify reflective cracking in the field using digital imaging and ground penetrating radar (GPR)signal analysis. The outcome of this study is a better understanding of reflective cracking mechanisms; hence, enhanced simulation of crack development and field assessment, and the quantification of the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of interlayer systems used to retard reflective cracking.


Enhancing Pavement Design

 Recent ICT research optimized the structural design used for new hot-mix asphalt (HMA) pavements for the busiest Illinois highways. The research included examining numerous HMA designs and the construction of instrumented full-depth HMA test sections. Full-scale testing of the sections was conducted using nondestructive testing techniques and the Accelerated Transportation Loading Assembly (ATLAS). The researchers used the results to validate developed pavement models capable of predicting the pavement response to vehicular loading.

ICT Sponsors Successful Sixth RILEM International Conference on Cracking in Pavements

 The Sixth RILEM International Conference on Cracking in Pavements convened from June 15-19 in Chicago, Illinois, with the ICT serving as a major sponsor. The conference was truly an international one with nearly 200 attendees from 29 countries. This year marked the first time the conference was held in the United States, and the attendees enjoyed various sights of Chicago, including a private reception and dinner at the Shedd Aquarium.

Improving Motor Vehicle Regulation

 As a result of an ICT project, a Commercial Vehicle Information Exchange Window was developed to exchange motor carrier safety information with other federal and state agencies involved with motor carrier regulation. The ICT project also developed system requirements for a Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) to exchange motor vehicle information amongst the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of State, and the Department of Revenue.

Forecasting Truck Travel Activities

 Recent advances in intermodalism, the connections between various modes of transportation, have resulted in quantum leaps in transportation, logistics, and warehousing.

To gain insight into these activities, ICT sponsors research that includes surveying truck traffic and production at large warehouses in Northeast Illinois. This study will assist national agencies in determining the demand freight transportation has on infrastructure, forecasting travel activity, and anticipating needs for additional transportation assets.

Ultra-Thin Whitetopping Short Courses

 Ultra-thin whitetopping (UTW) is a pavement rehabilitation strategy where a thin layer of concrete is placed on top of an existing hot-mix asphalt pavement.

The ICT will disseminate the findings from its research on UTW through short courses where participants will learn:

1) Structural design and construction guidelines for UTW and appropriate concrete material requirements to achieve a design of the intended service life.
2) How to structurally design UTW pavement types and how to write construction specification to achieve the design life intended.

Wind-Powered Rest Areas?

The ICT investigated the viability of using wind power to provide electricity for rest areas and weigh stations along Illinois highways.

Wind power is an attractive option because it is a clean, renewable energy source that avoids greenhouse gases; it uses relatively little land or other natural resources; and it is a hedge against further increases in electricity costs.

Laser Technology for Bridge and Pavement Construction

ICT is conducting research to validate the feasibility of using laser technology to monitor IDOT construction activities and transportation structures.

Potential uses of laser scanning include:

1) Obtaining accurate terrain models for determination of earthwork quantities
2) Monitoring pavement smoothness and adherence to design grade
3) Monitoring ground movement

Controlling Nighttime Glare

 Nighttime highway construction is often advocated to minimize inconvenience for the traveling public and to reduce the potential for work zone accidents. However, poor utilization and placement of the lighting equipment to illuminate the work zone can cause glare that is dangerous to drivers and workers. The ICT recently published research that provides recommendations for lighting arrangements for nighttime work zones and identifies a practical method that can be used to measure and quantify glare during nighttime highway construction.

Mass Transit: Planning for an Aging Population

By 2030, the elderly population in the U.S. is expected to double. An aging population brings new challenges for transportation researchers, such as providing seniors with innovative transportation alternatives that help them maintain their independence while also assuring the safety and comfort of other travelers. An ICT study explored the usefulness of strategies that can encourage seniors' use of the public transit system.

Environmentally Friendly Tires

The new generation of wide-base tires (as an alternative to the conventional dual-tire system) has the potential to provide numerous benefits to the trucking industry, including improved fuel efficiency, hauling capacity, comfort, vehicle stability, and safety. Additionally, wide-base tires can lessen gas emission, initial tire cost, tire repair cost, and noise.

Speed Enforcement Technologies

 Rolling lane closures are a common traffic control technique in work zones; they consist of a convoy of traffic protection vehicles equipped with warning lights and arrowboards that alert drivers to the presence of work crews and guide them to the adjacent lane until they have safely passed the work zone.

Investigating Concrete Deterioration

 Some years ago, the cracking of concrete bridge abutments in Peoria, Illinois was shown to be caused by alkali-silica reaction (ASR), with the essential component for this reaction being chert in the sand. Alkali (from the Portland cement) and reactive silica (from the aggregate) can result in an expansive product that causes cracking in concrete under specific temperature and humidity conditions. Chert is a rock composed of microcrystalline quartz (quartz being a mineral composed of silicon and oxygen).

ATREL Researchers Test Thin Concrete Pavements

 The Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Laboratory (ATREL) is the site of cutting-edge research on a new design concept known as Thin Concrete Pavements (TCP).

ICT Sponsors Midwest Particulate Matter Hotspot Peer Exchange

 On October 23-24, subject matter experts on particulate matter (PM) gathered at Allerton Park in Monticello to exchange ideas and experiences in project level hotspot analysis of PM, including monitoring and compliance. The attendees included staff from five Midwestern state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations, the U.S. EPA, the Illinois EPA, University faculty, and the FHWA.