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Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Momentum Newsletter

Team MDOT SHA Rallies During Crisis

Things have certainly changed since our last Momentum newsletter. As a sports fan, I fully believe our stress this time of year should be coming from our teams not advancing in the March Madness basketball tournament. Instead we are constantly checking on the health of loved ones separated from us in their own home and figuring out who is taking over the home office for work vs. homeschooling the kids. Things are changing by the minute and now, more than ever, it is a time for us to come together as a team to help ensure we continue to provide our essential services to our customers.

And you certainly HAVE rallied as a team! Among others, MDOT SHA's construction, maintenance, finance and procurement remain resolute with keeping our highways operational and our programs moving forward. While the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we will remain on course as we balance the delivery of our core mission with proper health practices and social distancing in our operations to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

State and federal guidelines deem transportation an essential and critical function. As it relates to MDOT SHA, that includes state and consultant personnel who are supporting or delivering transportation functions. This includes, but is not limited to, construction, maintenance, dispatch, vehicle recovery, inspections, planning and design. We will continue to perform these critical functions while protecting the health and well-being of our MDOT SHA team.


For many, our "new normal" includes teleworking, conference calls, TEAMS meetings and the use of other virtual formats to help ensure social distancing while still delivering critical tasks such as Pre-Construction meetings, Partnering & Progress meetings, and so on. We also are continuing to advertise contracts and open bids; continuing to process invoices and monthly pay estimates. For others, your "new normal" includes minimal office time and staggered shifts to encourage social distancing. In some cases, lower traffic volumes have provided us opportunities to accomplish more in a typical work shift by allowing an extended lane closure with no impact to safety of mobility.

Simply put, we are getting the job done, continuing to provide our essential services to our customers and keeping Team MDOT SHA safe. We are also showing we can accomplish our core mission through innovative approaches which will make us stronger on the other side of this crisis. Thank you for your flexibility and dedication during these unprecedented circumstances. Please keep up the great work, and stay safe and healthy!

Tim Smith, P.E.
Acting Administrator

Tim Smith

Tim Smith

Good Time to Team Up Online

Participants in ALP, directed by Chief Learning Officer Yvette Harrison, have 'better ways to collaborate virtually,' says OIT's Keith Spraker.

Participants in ALP, directed by Chief Learning Officer Yvette Harrison, have "better ways to collaborate virtually," says OIT's Keith Spraker.

With many workers telecommuting because of the Coronavirus, MDOT SHA’s access to a newly-obtained Microsoft product, MS Teams, makes collaboration easier. If you haven’t already, make sure to give it a try!

Deputy Director IT Operations Keith Spraker says that in February, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) replaced Skype for Business with MS Teams, which, he says, has better features.

“MS Teams has 98% of what Skype has and more,” he indicated.

MDOT SHA employees were using Skype for Business primarily to make conference calls and not trying out other features.

MS Teams is more inviting. It also allows conference calls. More importantly, it lets people from the same department and those collaborating interdepartmentally share information, exchange ideas, and work through plans.

Users of the software come together as groups and teams.

Those working together on a project find it easier to interact virtually. An example, says Keith, is the way the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) classmates work closely. Team members can post important documents and books to Team Channels and discuss them. They can use the Chat feature to communicate with one another as they prepare an assignment and decide the details of their PowerPoint presentation.

Among the features are:

Customizable alerts
Email-style threaded conversations
Meeting scheduling
Office 365 connectors
Tabs for frequently used documents
Team lists

...and emojis.

More than 500 teams have sprouted across MDOT. So far, MDOT SHA has 137 MS teams and many individual users.

You can log in and explore MS Teams. For information, visit:
Or, contact the MDOT SHA Service Desk.

Easing Paperwork for Erosion and Sediment

Laura Ridler says she's proud of the team that reduced the control sequence of construction from 198 items to 22.

Laura Ridler says she's proud of the team that reduced the control sequence of construction from 198 items to 22.

Remember the old quip, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time."?

Writing concisely can be a challenge. Keeping standard operating procedures from ballooning can be hard, too.

That's been the case with erosion and sediment control, explains OHD Deputy Director Laura Ridler. OHD oversees project design, which includes an Erosion and Sediment Control sequence of construction aimed at preventing sediment-laden runoff and damage to the environment.

"Over the past decade, these sequences went from simple to very detailed," she observes. "The sequences have become so prescriptive and descriptive. It's like everything but the kitchen sink is put in there."

And that has led to a rise in contractor field modification requests – almost 1,000 in 2019 – delays, and frustration, both among contractors and OED field compliance staff.

"We lost sight of the purpose of the sequence of construction: letting contractors know the critical information so things function the way they're supposed to," she says.

Understanding the need for change, MDOT SHA launched a pilot in the fall, bringing together staffers to work out what should be in the sequence of construction and what shouldn't. The result: The staffers managed to reduce the sequence of construction from 198 lines down to a mere 22. Now the sequence of construction is flexible while complying with erosion and sediment regulations.

"I'm very proud of the team," says Laura, "and we should see far fewer field modification requests for this project than we would have before these changes were made."

The pilot project, located on MD 212A, was advertised in February.

MDOT SHA will monitor project feedback from districts, Quality Assurance, designers, and contractors.

Word is already getting around. MDOT SHA shared its accomplishments at MdQI and at a pre-coronavirus meeting of the American Society of Highway Engineers. Training – which will be moved online because of the COVID-19 emergency – will begin soon.

Thank you to the work group members and those who implemented the new program, including OHD Plan Review Division Chief Matthew Keenan, Highway Hydraulics Division Chief Dana Havlik, and the now-retired Stephen Buckley of Highway Hydraulics.

Secretary’s Extra Mile Award – Setting an Example, Saving a Life

Matthew Miller (left) and Steven Stinchcomb exhibited two kinds of excellence worthy of the Secretary's Extra Mile Award.

Matthew Miller (left) and Steven Stinchcomb exhibited two kinds of excellence worthy of the Secretary's Extra Mile Award.

Sometimes you distinguish yourself by the outstanding work you do every day, turning heads and earning the respect of your colleagues. Sometimes you set a mark with the extraordinary way you respond to an emergency. The newest MDOT SHA recipients of the Secretary's Extra Mile Award exemplify both.

FMT IV Matthew Mills of the Denton Shop has long had the reputation as a team leader who coaches new FMTs with compassion, kindness and care. Here's an example: When a new employee needed more in depth, one-on-one training, Matthew Mills was the go-to person for the job. At previous jobs, this individual struggled because of the pace of training, but when he arrived at the Denton Shop, Matthew taught this newcomer at an appropriate speed, taking the time to teach, modify, and explain safe practices.

Says D2 Administrative Chief Karen Russo, "Matthew took that employee under his wing and helped him obtain a commercial driver's license. Usually you just get six months. Matthew made sure the employee received the three extra months he needed. Now that recruit has a job with benefits...for the rest of his career."

Last October, CHART Emergency Response Technician Steven Stinchcomb arrived at a multiple-vehicle collision and began to secure the scene when he saw that the engine of one of the vehicles, an SUV, was on fire. He managed to put out the fire as two others pulled the passengers to safety. Steve saw that the driver, a woman, had a severe leg injury that was bleeding profusely. With time precious, he applied a tourniquet, stabilizing the injured woman as Baltimore County Fire Department medics arrived.

"Because of his quick thinking, lack of hesitation, multi-tasking, and maintaining his focus under pressure," wrote Acting Administrator Tim Smith, "I am nominating ERT Senior Steven Stinchcomb for the Extra Mile Award and recognition by the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State of Maryland."

Quiet heroism deserves recognition. MDOT Secretary Gregory Slater proudly presented Matthew Miller and Steven Stinchcomb with the Secretary's Extra Mile Award.


Thank you MDOT SHA for continuing maintenance, construction and support to keep Maryland moving! #mdotfrontline #Marylandstrong

Thank you MDOT SHA for continuing maintenance, construction and support to keep Maryland moving! #mdotfrontline #Marylandstrong

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