Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Momentum Newsletter
July 2017

Administrator's Message

Greg Slater

Greg Slater

The reason we created Momentum is to communicate with the MDOT SHA team. Communication is one of our main MDOT SHA priorities because it impacts everything we do. The work we do matters, and within that communication matters. Last month I wrote about the Customer Experience and how important it is to our core mission; communication is a large part of that experience. Think about a citizen learning about one of our efforts when the contractors and equipment show up and start working, or a customer just looking to get answers to a question and he/she keeps getting transferred around; in these situations, no matter how much or well we communicate it may not be enough to give them a great customer experience because they started with a bad one.

When you truly personalize communication, it enhances the customer experience both internally and externally; it shows we took the time to listen to their information, request or concern and shows they are important to us and the work we do every day. Yes, listening to our customers is part of communication. When we communicate with our customers and each other we are not only more efficient, it shows our customers how much we care and how hard we work to deliver for them and build credibility. It's a story that we need to get out, and we cannot tell enough.

As with anything in life, good communication makes all the difference. Tone is important – I can tell over the phone if I contact a company and the representative is enthusiastic or miserable. When we consider the way we deliver a message and treat people with respect, explaining our decisions or the situation, even bad news is easier to accept. Similarly, just keeping our coworkers, bosses and customers informed of progress shows we care.

Clear communication is important as well. Most of us know as a listener to paraphrase back to clarify and as a sender, assure our message is received. We just need to take the time to implement the best practices. Our topics are often technical, so it is even more important for us to make sure our coworkers and customers are receiving the messages we intend.

When it comes to communication, the world has shrunk. Small-town America, where everyone knew what everyone else was doing, is here courtesy of social media. News travels fast, whether it is true or not. Our customers are engaged and social media is an excellent tool to communicate directly with them without the filter of traditional media or limitations of time or newsprint. MDOT SHA has more than 60,000 likes on our Facebook page and 43,000 Twitter followers. Customers embrace the highway system as part of their community and are interested in what is happening on the road. This issue's photo of the month shows how our Gaithersburg Shop rescued a fawn from I-270. Our Office of Communications posted the news on social media, showing our customers we have big hearts and take the time to do the right thing. I appreciate that the Shop shared their story, so OC could share it with the world. So please be sure to share information – brag a little and let people know what great things you and your team are doing. Recognize your coworkers in Kudos on the Intranet or with Customer Service Promise certificates – available for anyone to use right on the Intranet.

I've often said most of the troubles we have aren't related to our service, but how or if we communicated. It seems like an easy fix we can all improve if we make a concerted effort to talk to one another and our customers. Our credibility and people's trust in us are greatly enhanced when we do. If we don't tell our story others will, often with limited information and personal bias. Please join me in helping tell our story. We communicate for efficiency, for collaboration, for respect and so that we can deliver the absolute best for Maryland citizens. Let's communicate with empathy, with urgency, with an understanding of its importance; our customers expect it and we should expect it of each other!

New Auto-Flagging Technology Enhances Worker Safety

Innovation - New Auto-Flagging Technology Enhances Worker Safety

This summer, MDOT SHA Office of Traffic and Safety and District 6 will pilot Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (AFADs), an innovative technology that will make work zones safer for flagpersons.

AFADs are mechanically operated temporary traffic control devices that display "STOP" and "SLOW" signs during flagging operations, eliminating the need for a person to direct traffic from travel lanes. A worker will continue to guide traffic by operating the auto-flagging device via remote control away from the path of traffic. By positioning the AFAD operator away from traffic, the new device greatly reduces the risk for worker injury.   Also, by freeing one flagperson to join other construction activities, AFADs offer potential cost-savings.  At approximately 5.5  feet wide and 11.5 feet tall, drivers can readily detect and react to the AFAD, which could potentially enhance driver safety as well.

MDOT SHA is limiting AFADs to work zones of 1,000 feet long or less to ensure the remote control is safely within range.  Operators will be positioned off the roadway with an unobstructed view of approaching traffic in both directions.  Initially AFADs will function on low-volume roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.

Drivers should treat an AFAD as they would a human flagperson.  When a STOP sign is displayed, drivers should stop.  When a SLOW sign is displayed, drivers should look to ensure no conflicting vehicles are present and then proceed with caution through the work zone.

Flagging can be very hazardous, especially when drivers are speeding or not paying attention.  In January, MDOT SHA lost Rodney Chase, an extended member of its contractor family, who was fatally struck while flagging along Fort Smallwood Road.

Electronic Employee Expense Report Is Here

A new expense report is coming to a desktop near you!

Modernization - Electronic Employee Expense Report Is Here

The days of the big pink monster are coming to an end.  The Office of Finance is planning to deploy a new electronic employee expense report that will simplify submittals and hasten reimbursements.  A pilot phase is near completion, with a rollout of the new process planned for September.

"The MTrack Expense System (MES) is based on the MTrack Payroll System currently used by MDOT SHA employees so the transition should be user friendly," said Okey "Innocent" Odinammadu, Accounting Operations Division Chief, Office of Finance. "We think the new electronic expense process will save time and decrease user error."

Employees will access MES using their existing MTrack Payroll System log-on IDs and passwords.  Users will see a synchronization of expense pay periods with established payroll pay periods and a function that allows supporting documents to be scanned and attached.

Training classes are currently underway for select pilot offices.  As the MES deployment date draws closer, offices will receive additional information about training sessions and the system's "Go Live" date.

The Office of Finance appreciates your patience and support as this new technology is implemented. If you have any questions about of MES, please contact Okey "Innocent" Odinammadu at

Chris Hood Receives Highway Development Customer Service Promise Award

Customer Service Experience - Chris Hood Receives Highway Development Customer Service Promise Award

Congratulations to Chris Hood, the recipient of the Office of Highway Development Customer Service Promise Award last month. He was nominated for delivering excellent customer service to business partners, including one specific consultant surveyor in Cecil County for more than a decade and a half. Before there was a customer service promise, Chris has been setting the example, exemplifying the five customer service pillars while methodically assisting with research and cultivating strong relationships with external partners. Mr. Whiteman sent a letter (now posted on the Kudos page) stating his appreciation for having Chris as a reliable contact. "…Through the years Chris was my go to guy - always ready to help, and sending me all of the data I needed to complete my projects. Usually he would follow up with an e-mail asking if I needed any further information. This is the kind of dedication that helps establish a professional bond between people / companies, and nurtures trust."

This strong working relationship with the private surveying community promotes cooperation, communication and respect, and helps our projects to move along. Thank you Chris Hood for delivering the MDOT SHA customer experience that Maryland citizens and business partners deserve!

Photo of the Month

Photo of the Month

Gaithersburg Shop Employees Barry Naylor FMT II and Jose Amaya FMT III hold the rescued fawn.

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