The Resilient Roads Roundtable announces infrastructure innovators and influencers in the public sector and government agencies.
The Resilient Roads Roundtable—a consortium of business, academia and government working together toward roads that are safer, smoother, more sustainable and better able to rebound from extreme conditions, without increasing the cost to build and maintain—has announced its inaugural list of Resilient Roads Innovators and Influencers. The objective of the Resilient Roads Innovators and Influencers list is biannual recognition of those whose advocacy is clear and effective among key transportation infrastructure decision-makers, as well as those who are creating and adopting new materials, methods and models to advance transportation infrastructure resilience. The program is intended to spur others to undertake similar leadership actions.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to those in the transportation infrastructure sector who are leading the effort to identify and implement innovative approaches to foster greater resilience,” says Paul Schmitz, market manager, public roads, Tensar International Corp. and co-founder of the Resilient Roads Roundtable. “The Resilient Roads Innovators and Influencers list spotlights those making a difference—and how they’re doing so.”
The inaugural Resilient Roads Innovators and Influencers list focuses on public and agency officials and their organizations that are leading the way in road resilience initiatives.
- Kirsten Clemens, environmental engineer and scrap tire program coordinator, State of Michigan, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Clemens is recognized for her leadership in testing alternative pavement materials that boost road resiliency. In 2021, Clemens helped lead the effort to pilot the use of rubber-modified asphalt (RMA) by installing 100 miles (161 km) of asphalt rubber chip seal on Michigan roads. A 2021 study by conducted by the University of Missouri, in conjunction with the US Tire Manufacturers Association and The Ray, found that rubber-modified asphalt is a resilient pavement solution to rebuild the nation’s roadways and a promising sustainable and circular end-of-life market for scrap tires.
- Peter DeFazio, Congressman (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. DeFazio is recognized for shepherding to fruition the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021, landmark legislation that will invest in America’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, resilience, broadband and more.
- Amir Golalipour, Ph.D., P.E, infrastructure resilience research program manager at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Golalipour is recognized for driving research on infrastructure resiliency—for instance, a recent investigation of the impact of wildfires on pavement conditions—and for consistently, clearly evangelizing the importance of improved road resilience. Golalipour’s recent presentation on FHWA’s road resilience efforts at the 2022 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting was especially instructive. He’s also involved with the upcoming FHWA release of a pavement resilience technical guidelines document which will help foster best practices.
- J. Alfredo Gómez, director, natural resources and environment, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Gómez is being recognized for his leadership of GAO’s 2021 study of climate resilience efforts for federally funded roads. The subsequent report, “Climate Resilience: Options to Enhance the Resilience of Federally Funded Roads and Reduce Fiscal Exposure,” examined FHWA’s climate resilience efforts and offered options to further enhance them including recommendations to “Condition eligibility, funding, or project approval on compliance with climate resilience policy and guidance,” and to “Link climate resilience actions or requirements to incentives or penalties.” The report findings were broadly covered by national media and provide strong support for incorporating resilience performance-based metrics into future road planning decision-making.
- Brian Keierleber, county engineer, Buchanan County, Iowa. Keierleber is acknowledged for his enthusiastic and ongoing efforts to incorporate proven innovations that enhance the resiliency of Iowa’s roads and bridges. Recently, he’s been piloting long-term concrete waterproofing protection in the form of a new wave of improved sealants aiming to protect not only at the surface, but deep below the surface where premature damage begins. Keierleber’s past innovation initiatives include early adoption of innovative bridge designs, materials and methods that enhance resiliency including installations where bridges have been built using retired railroad flatcars. Keierleber’s influence on road resilience extends well beyond Iowa: he’s past chair of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE) and has served on the board of advisors for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments at the University of Iowa.
- Keith Mozee, executive director and general manager, StreetsLA. Under Mozee’s leadership, StreestLA performs a wide range of planning, constructio, and maintenance activities to maintain Los Angeles’ public works infrastructure and street network of 23,000 lane miles (37,000 km). Mozee is recognized for championing the usage of innovative paving materials that improve durability while providing a productive use for recycled plastic. Working with TechniSoil’s Neo recycled plastic binder agent and recycled asphalt for pavements, StreetsLA has been testing Neo pavement in heavily trafficked road sections. Neo uses the equivalent of 2,200,000 plastic water bottles per lane mile and provides up to 60% more durable pavement than conventional asphalt. A future rollout promises to deliver significant cost savings for the city while reducing plastic waste in the environment.
- Todd Pelham, Lenexa, Kan., deputy city manager. Pelham is being acknowledged for his leadership on smart roads technology that improves design, technology and financing resilience for roads. With a vision of a smart city future, Pelham helped Lenexa join forces with Integrated Roadways—inventors of a smart pavement system comprised of durable, precast concrete sections embedded with digital sensors and fiber optic connectivity to track real-time road conditions. In addition to enabling predictive maintenance and providing traffic data to the public, the digital platform offers the potential to generate recurring revenue from private party app development, making it possible for road funding to be for the total cost of ownership and total life-cycle cost, helping shift owner assumptions away from the “up-front cost only” approach that low bid encourages to a more holistic appreciation of what the total ownership of the road will require. Pelham’s efforts are helping to bring on the digitization of transportation infrastructure and the improved insights needed to ensure resiliency.
- John Siekmeier, research engineeer, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT). Data shows that, to build more resilient roadways, start from beneath the ground and work your way up. Stabilizing soil and aggregate with tools like geogrid is part of the solution. Intelligent compaction also helps improve the geomaterials underneath the pavement. Intelligent compaction equipment also enables contractors and owners to use that documentation to make decisions in real time on how to build quality roads. Intelligent compaction provides the ability to measure 100% of build-quality on the job so that any weak links can be identified and rectified. Siekmeier is being recognized for his testing and implementation of geosynthetic products and intelligent compaction to raise the resiliency of Minnesota roads. Alongside MNDOT’s Advanced Materials Technology leader Rebecca Embacher and their colleagues, Siekmeier has helped to drive the deployment of intelligent compaction in 100% of the state’s new asphalt paving projects. Additionally, Siekmeier has been actively educating transportation infrastructure peers at industry events on topics such as “Enhancing Resilience by Applying Performance Based Asset Management to Pavement Foundations,” and “Enhancing Resilience by Improving Moisture Measurement during Construction.”
- Edwin Sniffen, deputy director of highways, Hawaii Department of Transportation, and chair, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Committee on Transportation System Security and Resilience. Sniffen has been a vocal evangelist for road-resilience initiatives including appearing before the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development in 2021, delivering industry talks like his 2022 TRB Annual Meeting session, “Senior Leadership’s Role in Embedding Transportation Resilience,” and making resiliency a key factor in critical Hawaii road designs.
- Jeb Tingle, senior research civil engineer and program manager, Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss. Through history, many products and processes that ended up having broader public applications began with the development of specific military applications. In particular, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has long been a proving ground for innovative approaches to vital infrastructure development and maintenance. Tingle is responsible for developing, planning, and conducting complex civil engineering research to improve the performance and resiliency of airfields and pavements. His individual areas of expertise include soil stabilization, unpaved roads and use of geosynthetics for pavement applications—all of which are resilience-related. Tingle is recognized for his overall research and, of late, for his work documenting the performance and resiliency benefits of geogrids for roads.
“Congratulations to all who were recognized in our first list,” says Schmitz. “We look forward to celebrating more innovators and influencers later this year. Our future lists will showcase resiliency leaders from other aspects of the transportation infrastructure sector including those advancing new materials and methods as well as programs and policies.”