The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and Federal Highway Administration sponsor the annual State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Excellence Awards to promote innovation nationwide. This year, three STICs—New Jersey, Ohio, and Idaho—received the award for demonstrating success in fostering a strong culture of innovation in their transportation communities.
New Jersey was recognized for its proactive communication strategy and planning for organizational improvements to support institutionalizing innovations statewide. The New Jersey STIC developed a communications plan to identify strategies to share exemplary innovation technologies and disseminate lessons learned with the broader transportation community. This has led to new member engagement and a steady increase in attendance at their quarterly STIC meetings.
Additionally, the New Jersey DOT created a full-time innovation coordinator position to build upon the culture of innovation and strategically plan an enterprise-level innovation program. The New Jersey STIC created a new core innovation area related to organizational improvement and support to implement strategic workforce development, virtual public involvement, and other innovations that do not fall into typical discipline areas.
The Ohio Transportation Innovation Council diversified their STIC membership and developed a new process to evaluate innovations while also striving to save $100 million in operational costs over a four-year period to reinvest back into the state’s infrastructure. The Ohio STIC expanded its membership to rural transportation planning organizations and higher education institutions while strengthening its ties with the DOT Lean Team and Research Programs. This expanded membership brought more diverse viewpoints and developed a long-term collaborative approach to promote innovative ideas statewide.
The Ohio STIC developed a transparent process with standardized criteria to select STIC Incentive projects, which resulted in more project submittals. They created a subcommittee that consisted of Ohio DOT, County Engineering Association of Ohio, an RTPO, and an MPO to better understand the impact that the projects could have statewide. The Ohio DOT is also capturing cost savings through their internal processes, with over 2,000 suggestions received, 201 implemented and 271 under further analysis – the savings to date totals $72.2 million that can be invested into Ohio’s infrastructure.
The Idaho Transportation Innovation Council increased outreach, diversity, and real-world career opportunities with its ICONIC training program. They supported the Idaho Career Opportunities – Next in Construction (ICONIC) training program, and this support allowed the program to triple in size and take a geographic approach. With the training closer to home, more students could attend the five-week training while maintaining contact with their families. Fifteen students graduated from the Idaho Falls class in 2022, 40% female and 60% minority. Eleven (73%) were employed in the highway construction industry within 30 days of graduating.
The ICONIC training program expanded to include heavy equipment operating and concrete cement masonry as well as provided opportunities to network. Incorporating classroom instruction and in-field training prepared the students to partner with Idaho’s district staff to replace a sidewalk at a local rest area. Inviting contractors to observe the students gave contractors peace of mind that they were hiring the right person. To learn more about the STIC program, contact Sara Lowry, STIC Program Coordinator. Information courtesy of AASHTO.