Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Momentum Newsletter

What is MdQI and Why is it Important to You as an MDOT SHA Employee?

At MDOT SHA, we often focus on how our internal teams work together to deliver our program. However, in order to continue to deliver innovation, modernization, communication and an outstanding customer experience, we must also take into consideration the role our industry partners have in contributing to driving change for Marylanders. That is why it is important for us to tap into industry resources and organizations such as the Maryland Quality Initiative (MdQI).

For those of you who are not familiar with MdQI, it is a cooperative of agencies and associations representing Maryland's transportation industry that was founded by MDOT SHA and private sector representatives in 1993 with a mission of continuous quality improvement to ensure a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation system that meets the needs of all stakeholders. Since its founding, the group has expanded its membership and partners to include all MDOT transportation business units and the MDTA, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), local government transportation and public works agencies, the private sector and industry associations.

MdQI sponsors ten subcommittees: Awards, Conference, Innovation, Partnering, Project Development, Public Relations, Outreach, Transportation Operations, Safety and Utility. Each subcommittee works throughout the year to support the consortium's mission, goals and activities; facilitate productive discussion and problem-solving; recognize industry achievements; and provide technical sessions on industry practices and issues. These activities include the statewide Annual Conference, Awards of Excellence program and a transportation-related Minority Business Enterprise networking event.

At MdQI, OPPE Assistant Division Chief Dennis Atkins checked out two competitors in the annual Pinewood Derby.

At MdQI, OPPE Assistant Division Chief Dennis Atkins checked out two competitors in the annual Pinewood Derby.

This year, it was my pleasure to serve as Co-Chair of the 2020 MdQI Annual Conference, which took place last month at the Baltimore Convention Center. The two-day Conference kicked off with technical sessions and a highly attended MBE Meet and Greet, which offered minority-owned firms the opportunity to meet with Prime Engineering Firms and Prime Contractors/Suppliers, introduce their firms and discuss upcoming projects and connect with potential teaming partners.

But MdQI is more than the Annual Conference and Awards Program. One of MdQI's goals is to educate Maryland students about the transportation industry and associated careers. Student outreach events include middle school and high school visits, the annual Engineers Week program for middle school and high school students at the Engineers Club of Baltimore, and the MdQI Transportation Career Day for high school students at the War Memorial Plaza in Baltimore coming up on April 2, 2020.

THIS is where MdQI can make a difference, and I hope you join me in getting involved! To learn more, visit and see how YOU can make a difference.

Tim Smith, P.E.
Acting Administrator

Tim Smith

Tim Smith

Pilot Project To Ease Overflow to US 1

Tom Costello, Mohammed Raqib, and Warren Henry (left to right) are introducing an Intelligent Traffic System on US 1.

Tom Costello, Mohammed Raqib, and Warren Henry (left to right) are introducing an Intelligent Traffic System on US 1.

Picture our current limitations when there's a significant crash on I-95 in Howard County, for example. If several lanes are closed, motorists will divert to the nearby arterial, US 1. Then what happens? Bumper-to-bumper traffic—not only on I-95, but also on the narrower US 1, where traffic signals are prevalent.

A pilot program beginning in Howard County, explains Mohammed Raqib, Chief for the Programming, Planning & Development Division in the Office of CHART & ITS Development, will help MDOT SHA actively manage the arterial traffic and alert drivers with information that's not yet available on popular GPS mapping apps.

The installation of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology along the US 1 Innovative Technology Deployment Corridor is the first of its kind for MDOT SHA in that it will facilitate enhanced freeway-arterial operations along parallel corridors.

"We never had the ability to see exactly how diverted traffic affects the arterials and make on-the-fly adjustments," he explains. This project serves to manage sudden changes in traffic patterns to and from major routes, such as I-95, MD 295, and US 1.

CHART, working with OOTS, plans to deploy 12 CCTV cameras, 9 dynamic message signs (DMS), and 19 travel time/origin-destination sensors on US 1. The new equipment will provide MDOT SHA with new capabilities: detailing how many cars and trucks are diverted by an incident on I-95 or MD 295; getting a broader picture of where these vehicles are originating and where they're destined to go; adjusting the timing on US 1's traffic signals so traffic moves; posting instructions to drivers on DMS; and providing enhanced information on driver apps such as Waze to improve situational awareness for the agency as well as the traveling public.

By installing this equipment for use in the short-term, MDOT SHA also is positioning itself for the future and communications with Connected and Autonomous Vehicles that are being developed and, once on roads, will respond more quickly than drivers.

The project is scheduled to begin this spring and staff expects the project to be complete within two years of the notice-to-proceed.

"Based on the lessons learned on US 1, we will be in a much stronger position to make similar deployments on other corridors statewide," says Raqib.

TSMO First-Stage Implementation Expected in Next Two Years

Seen the video? What did you think? Take the survey!

Seen the video? What did you think? Take the survey!

Reducing highway congestion within an existing footprint takes modernized approaches: using new technology to maximize existing infrastructure use by monitoring traffic, communicating with partners and customers and rerouting/managing traffic.

MDOT SHA has been working for some time on developing and mainstreaming the technology-based Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Program and, according to TSMO & CATS Deputy Director Subrat Mahapatra, the first stage of the program should become active within two years.

TSMO leverages Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) infrastructure, telecommunications networks and computerized decision-support platforms to focus their powers on building a "System of Systems." TSMO experts factor in all the ways that people and goods travel, with a focus on the origin-to-destination trip experience. Imagine your commute: you might drive to a rail line, take a bus after that, then walk the final few blocks. TSMO will help commuters and commercial drivers alike plan faster and reliable travel. For example, TSMO can intervene during peak congestion to keep vehicles moving by temporarily using shoulders as traffic lanes or by installing smart traffic signals to support integrated freeway-arterial operations.

As part of TSMO deployment, MDOT SHA is implementing a system that covers I-70 and US 40 between MD 32 and the Baltimore Beltway that carries commuter and commercial vehicle traffic. At peak hours, drivers on I-70 and US 40 experience frustrating congestion levels. While some of this congestion is recurrent and results from normal morning and evening commutes, 50 - 60% is non-recurrent and sporadic, and results from crashes, weather-related issues and construction projects that subsequently divert additional traffic onto Frederick Road, Old Frederick Road and local roads. To manage this congestion and improve safety, MDOT SHA is adopting a tiered approach to deploy various TSMO strategies on the I-70/US 40 System.

Tier 1, the first "live" phase of TSMO, will include applying strategies such as:

Dynamic Speed Advisories based on more quickly obtained traffic information
Queue Warning Systems that let drivers spot slow-moving traffic early enough to slow down or change routes
Automated Incident Detection that will be relayed earlier to traffic operators and drivers
Smart Traffic Signal Operations that look not only just look at bottlenecks at signal intersections, but traffic along the entire route
Integrated Freeway Arterial operations, which allows TSMO practitioners to manage traffic along area routes using automated systems

With the flexibility of technology, says Subrat, the lessons learned from this first phase will lead to improvements in subsequent phases that will debut around the State in the future. These are exciting times for MDOT SHA, as we deliver the next generation of transportation solutions to our customers.

First Maryland Bridge Challenge Readies TRAC Students for Nationals

OPPE Director Scott Pomento encouraged students to consider future transportation engineers at the TRAC 2020 Challenge.

OPPE Director Scott Pomento encouraged students to consider future transportation engineers at the TRAC 2020 Challenge.

On January 31, Maryland's 14 Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) teams squared off at the Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore for the chance to represent Maryland in the upcoming National TRAC Bridge Challenge, hosted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). This year's competition will be held in Kansas City, MO.

In the first Maryland Bridge Challenge, student teams competed against their peers from throughout the State. They recorded measurements for their bridge performance test and practiced oral presentations about their bridge designs. Students competed in three divisions, including Middle School, Junior Varsity (grades 9 and 10) and Varsity (grades 11 and 12). The teams tested their bridge designs by placing them on a special scale. With each addition of weight to a bridge, students cringed in hopes they would hit the top mark before hearing the tell-tale sound of their bridge finally cracking under the load.

Middle school students built truss bridges, Junior Varsity built deck arch bridges and Varsity built cable-stay bridges, which are the most-demanding design. The goal: construct the lightest possible bridge that can bear the heaviest possible load. The strength-to-weight ratio determines bridge efficiency, which is a team's key feature and the criteria for the winning teams.

Was it the influence of nearby TSO and the MDOT SHA Hanover complex? The Varsity Division winner was Hanover-based Chesapeake Science Point High School for its Grade A Balsa Only (GABO) bridge.

Office of Policy Research Special Projects Manager Aaron Jones coordinated the event with assistance from the Office of Communications' Chisa Winstead and Kerry Brandt and Office of Structures Project Manager Justin Mohr served as a mentor. As a testament to MDOT SHA's TRAC reputation nationally, this year Aaron was named as one of only a handful of judges from participating TRAC DOT's for the National Bridge AASHTO Challenge.

"It seems like our teams become more and more competitive every year," says a proud Aaron Jones. "We are really looking forward to bringing our future civil engineers to Kansas City to face off against the nation's best this spring."


Assistant Principal Donna M. Buppert (left) and Principal Rachel J. Davis welcomed the Orioles Bird to an MDOT SHA pedestrian safety program at Grange Elementary School in Baltimore on Feb. 14.

Assistant Principal Donna M. Buppert (left) and Principal Rachel J. Davis welcomed the Orioles Bird to an MDOT SHA pedestrian safety program at Grange Elementary School in Baltimore on Feb. 14.

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