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Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop Stresses Safety, Innovation

By: 
Bill Cramer

Safety, resiliency, and innovation will be the watchwords May 21-23 when IBTTA convenes its annual Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop in New Orleans.

The meeting features a technical tour of the city’s post-Hurricane Katrina storm surge wall, as well as a weekend community service project at Bastion, an intentionally-designed neighborhood for U.S. war veterans with lifelong rehabilitative needs and their families.

From asset management and life cycle assessment, to disaster preparedness and resilience, the workshop program is an intensive tour through the challenges facing the industry’s maintenance and operations professionals.

Lessons from Katrina and Beyond

The program opens with a behind-the-scenes look at a devastating storm that was a massive professional challenge for front-line responders and their agencies. The moderated panel will be comprised of those who were directly involved in the response to Katrina’s devastation and the aftermath, reflecting on their personal stories and eyewitness accounts of some of the life-changing events that happened, as well as how people responded both immediately and in the long term.

Panelists from the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, and the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute will discuss the challenges that faced the public and first responders, and what lessons were learned during the process of cleanup and rebuilding.

The workshop will also feature an “open house” on resiliency and sustainability, where panelists and participants will explore emerging practices in response to the increasing frequency of hurricanes, major winter storms, wildfires, and other extreme events. When IBTTA members gathered a few years ago to share lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, one of the takeaways was the central role of highway infrastructure at every step of disaster response and recovery: toll roads are the escape route for people fleeing a storm, and the access point for personnel and materiel to begin the rebuilding process.

Toll systems must have the resiliency and capability to adapt and/or recover from the stress or changes that may be experienced during and after a major incident. With each response to every new incident/challenge, the collective understanding of how to be well prepared and to effectively react to these challenges continues to grow, especially when these experiences are shared.

Safety and Security

Day-to-day maintenance is where the rubber (along with other essential materials) hits the road, as toll road personnel perform the countless upgrades and improvements that keep a facility running smoothly and reliably. But to do their part to keep the driving public safe, maintenance teams must be able to get on with the job without fear of injury—even with vehicles streaming by at highway speeds.

That’s why the Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop features a session on work zone safety, drawing best practices from Italy, Pennsylvania, and Plano, Texas.

Maintenance departments are also an integral part of the response to cybersecurity threats that have received greater attention from the tolling industry in recent years because the surest way to make your organization vulnerable to a data breach is to assume it could never happen to you. The workshop program emphasizes training and awareness as cornerstones of the response to cyber threats, with emphasis on protecting toll system components and preventing identity theft.

Technology and Innovation

The program pays special attention to the big-picture innovations that are transforming surface transportation, from connected and autonomous vehicles to the widespread use of drones for asset inspection and incident management.

The future is accelerating toward us at an ever-increasing speed. Technology that once seemed only a science fiction storyboard is imminent. Getting a handle on those changes and what they mean for your agency might be the single best reason to attend this workshop.

You’ll also have a chance to dig into the many smaller shifts that are showing up on our roadways, from LED lighting to type XI retroreflective sheeting, from alternate fuels to new landscape maintenance options. Many of these simple, smart innovations open up opportunities to boost performance or cut costs. After attending this workshop, your maintenance team will return home with ideas and insights they can begin delivering on as soon as they’re back at work.

Register today for IBTTA’s Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop, May 21-23, 2017 in New Orleans, LA.