Add Virginia to the list of states testing out “plastic roads”

Engineers at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are studying a new type of asphalt mixture, called recycled plastic modified asphalt mixture (RPM), that could replace traditional asphalt mix. While limited research on the technology says it is a win-win for both improving longevity of roads and redirecting plastic waste from landfills, VDOT wants to confirm that the new mixture does not result in microplastic entering the environment through water runoff. 

PennDOT works to dismantle systemic racism

The Pennsylvania DOT recently unveiled a report from its Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities Working Group that details recommendations to establish anti-racist principles at the core of the work done by the DOT. Collecting input from the community, staff, leadership, and other DOTs, the report lays out strategies to balance the PennDOT workforce, invest in disadvantaged communities, reduce disparity in contracting, engage with communities of color, and increase diversity on advisory boards and commissions. 

DOTs are thinking beyond highways for keeping economies moving

Construction of the Interstate Highway System spawned decades of economic growth in the U.S., but building more of the same will have diminishing returns, according to research outlined recently in the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. If it’s true that “you can’t build the Interstate Highway System twice” and expect the same benefits, then it’s worth understanding the different ways that DOTs are investing and thinking about how they can keep the economy moving. 

Safer systems are needed to curb traffic deaths

The U.S. needs to adopt a “Safe System” approach to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries, according to the Institute of Transportation Engineers and policy experts at Johns Hopkins University. “Our current roadway system reflects a history of flawed decisions about land use, opportunity, investment, and racial and ethnic equity,” they write in a recent issue of ITE Journal, pointing to the impressive safety records in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, and other countries that adopted the approach early on.

Three steps toward smarter transportation investments

A new study by SSTI with researchers from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison looks at transportation project prioritization programs at 21 agencies across the U.S. The study identifies three overarching strategies to better align investments with policy goals: 1) establishing flexible funding programs; 2) evaluating key outcomes; and 3) maximizing benefits per dollar spent.