Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Momentum Newsletter
June 2018

Administrator's Message: Successful Collaboration Is Key! June Is National Effective Communication Month

MDOT SHA family – June is Effective Communication Month. As you know well from our four priorities, I value open, truthful and transparent communication as an unshakeable pillar of our success. Thanks to advancements in technology, we are able to communicate quicker than ever before using more innovative ways than ever imagined. But is it effective? A quicker way to communicate doesn't necessarily mean a more empathetic and thoughtful one.

Effective communication sounds like it should be instinctive. All too often, when we try to communicate with others something goes awry. We say one thing, our audience hears something else, and misunderstandings ensue. This can cause problems - in your home, school, and particularly, here at MDOT SHA.

Greg Slater

Greg Slater

Our focus here is, and always will be, on customer service and communication. We will continue to serve and listen to our valued customers and partners, and we will provide communication and customer service with urgency, empathy and clarity. We will be open to all viewpoints and ideas and we will hold each other accountable for meeting our customer service goals.

In the same vein, we should all hold ourselves accountable for practicing what we preach. Setting an example of what it means to be a good driver, pedestrian and bicyclist is another extremely important method of effective communication. We should always lead by example. That’s why, this month the MDOT SHA family needs to sign the traffic safety pledge. Proving to our customers that we value their safety and lives encourages them to value the same while driving on our roadways.

Please keep effective communication in mind this month and always. This includes being vigilant with your social media posts to ensure you are representing yourself and indirectly, this organization, well.

Thank you.

Brand New Electronic Submittal Process for Stormwater Management As-Builts Brings MDOT SHA to the 21st Century!

Modernization - Brand New Electronic Submittal Process for Stormwater Management As-Builts Brings MDOT SHA to the 21st Century!

A Snapshot from the new Quality Assurance Toolkit that gives users the freedom to submit important documents electronically, closing out projects sooner.

With the recent heavy rains and flash flooding making national news - the proper planning, designing and building of stormwater management facilities have taken center stage. "Storm water management facilities" might not sound like MDOT SHA's most exciting products, but they are crucial to the success of our construction projects, commitment to the environment and the preservation and maintenance of our infrastructure. Bringing together the Office of Construction, Office of Environmental Design, Highway Development, Hydraulics Division and Plan Review Division, stormwater management facility construction involves a significant cross section of our organization. Thanks to a new modernized process, approvals for stormwater management facilities (SWM) will be dramatically improved - cutting timetables, delays and red tape.

The new SWM As-Built submittal process is now electronic. With this new streamlined process, the overall project closeout time frame is much shorter, expediting the projects and improving efficiency! Participation from MDOT SHA staff including Stephen Bucy, Sonal Ram, Steven Buckley, Joe Bartell, Tad Daniel, and Chunca Bittinger saw this agency-wide modernization effort to completion. Contractors and MDOT SHA staff are now able to submit detailed reports, written narrative, photographs, landscaping approvals and information on materials via a new electronic system: the Quality Assurance Toolkit.

The contractor prepares and submits the SWM As-Built package on the Toolkit and any employee with access can view all documents electronically instead of painstakingly tracking down paper copies which may have been lost or compromised. A new interim status called "Structural Acceptance" allows contractors to submit the SWM As-Built submittal package prior to waiting for final landscaping approval, taking months off the project closeout process. Looking to the future, the SWM As-Built submittal team hopes to ensure that the same reviewer is assigned to assess each iteration of a project's submittal package.

Coming to Maryland: Ramp-Metering Technology Saves Motorists Time and Money

Innovation - Coming to Maryland: Ramp-Metering Technology Saves Motorists Time and Money

When roadway congestion is at its peak, ramp-metering technology keeps traffic moving and saves motorists precious time.

The I-270 Innovative Congestion Management (ICM) Project will install the first ramp meters in Maryland next fall! Ramp metering is an established congestion relief tool used for more than 20 years in multiple cities across the country. Ramp meters resemble traffic signals and are installed along the entrance ramps to freeways where they regulate the rate vehicles enter the mainline highway.

Anyesha Mookherjee, Deputy Director of Planning and Programs with the Office of Traffic and Safety, explains ramp metering using a clever metaphor, "If the freeway was a big river into which several smaller rivers (the local roadways) feed into, then installing ramp metering would be like installing a dam at the mouth of each of the smaller rivers. This would then allow you to control the amount of water flowing into the big river and thereby prevent flood-like conditions."

Without metering, vehicles may enter the freeway in an uncontrolled manner. Consequently, traffic along the freeway is forced to slow down, or even stop, to allow traffic from entrance ramps to enter. Anyesha continues, "when this happens during heavy peak hours, traffic flow near ramps can come to a standstill which then has a ripple effect on freeway traffic for miles."

Fortunately, ramp meters control the number of vehicles entering the freeway and allow those vehicles to merge smoothly, keeping those traveling in the mainline from reducing speed. By increasing traffic speed and reducing travel time and crash rates, new ramp metering along I-270 - a vital commuter corridor - will deliver Maryland motorists to life's opportunities and keep them from sitting in frustrating gridlock.

MDOT SHA and the Oyster Recovery Partnership Join to Help Restore the Chesapeake Bay's Ecosystem

Customer Service Experience - Customer Service Experience - MDOT SHA and the Oyster Recovery Partnership Join to Help Restore the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem

Erin Knauer, (MDOT SHA Environmental Programs Division), with help from First Mate Bruce Retalik, recovers derelict crab pots (right) which pose a threat to marine life.

Recently, MDOT SHA performed mitigation efforts as part of the rehabilitation of the US 40 (Pulaski Highway) Bridges over the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls. In an effort to keep Maryland Open for Business and protect the Chesapeake Bay, OED’s Environmental Programs Division (EPD) partnered with our customers - including the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Versar and a fleet of boats including 11 local watermen - to remove old, rusted and lost crab pots from an area of about 3,000 acres near the mouth of the Gunpowder River where it meets the bay. An innovative, collaborative effort led by Mark Smith (OED EPD), he tells us the importance of removing these 'ghost pots' from the Chesapeake Bay, "When traps become lost, they actually continue to fish - their bait continues to attract crabs and other aquatic species (turtles, fish etc.), which may become trapped and die. These trapped species eventually become bait and the cycle goes on."

Derelict crab pots are a dominant form of marine debris riddling the bottom of the Bay, endangering the benthic community (clams, mussels, crabs etc.). By removing these decaying obstacles, aquatic life is less likely to become trapped, and natural life cycles continue. Not to mention, fishing for lost crab pots allows fleets of otherwise idle watermen to continue working during off-seasons. While we have a need to environmentally mitigate our built environments, our customers have one too, and this effort saw to it that their interests were met as well.

The project was a testament to MDOT SHA’s commitment to the customer service experience. Partnering with MDOT SHA’s customers to meet a common goal has led to significant Bay restoration achievements. The fleet collected approximately 1,451 derelict pots in just over 10 days. The entire mitigation effort took months of coordination with both the regulatory agencies and those involved with work on the water. OED EPD, including Smith, Erin Knauer, Cheryl Jordon and Todd Nichols, was the lead in securing the wetland/waterway permit for the US 40 bridge project and discovering this innovative mitigation solution.

Thank you to all MDOT SHA employees involved. You are the customer service experience.


Photo of the Month

The Office of Materials Technology received national recognition from the Federal Highway Administration for their Asphalt Density Specifications. Above, OMT Employees accept the Gold Medal Award from FHWA. From left to right, front to back: Eric Frempong (Deputy Director OMT), Bill Wade (Assistant Division Administrator FHWA), Sejal Barot (Director OMT), Marshall Klinefelter (President MAA), Azmat Hussain (Technology Services/Planning Team Leader FHWA), Jose Malheiro (D2/D7 Team Leader OMT), Chandra Akisetty (Division Chief OMT), Robert Voelkel (Assistant Division Chief OMT), Geoffrey Hall (Division Chief OMT).

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