Project Spotlight Archive
OTHER SPOTLIGHTS 2012 and older
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.