Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Momentum Newsletter

Building Tomorrow's Transportation Leaders Today

Tomorrow's Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration begins today by communicating with young people from kindergarten through high school about the exciting ways they can pursue an education in the transportation fields.

We start young, illustrated by the Bring Your Child to Work Day event hosted here at Headquarters. That day grade school children watched demonstrations of urban planning and engineering, constructed bridges and learned about field operations and safety.

In May, we launched a new Maryland program for grade schoolers: Roadways in Developing Elementary Students (RIDES). RIDES, which was developed by AASHTO, shows Maryland students as young as five that Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) is fun and engaging. It's a hands-on program, the kind that lets kids do more than just learn from books and screens. Students apply their creativity to solving real-world problems in transportation and civil engineering.

For years MDOT SHA has worked with Maryland Middle and High Schools on programs and competitions in the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program. We're proud to congratulate TRAC teams from Chesapeake Math and IT North Middle School, Chesapeake Math and IT North High School, and Chesapeake Science Point. The three teams in the National TRAC Bridge Challenge became finalists and brought their leading projects to the finals in Utah. I had the pleasure of watching these amazing Maryland high schoolers present and test their bridges on the national stage, and I am so proud of them.

MDOT SHA also partnered in a career day for Baltimore area high schoolers, who we hope will join the various transportation and engineering fields we embrace here at MDOT SHA. MDQI's Construction and Engineering Career Day brought 400 students to the Baltimore War Memorial to learn how fulfilling a career in transportation can be.

At MDOT SHA we invest in our roads and bridges, but just as importantly, in our future road and bridge builders, engineers, professionals and leaders. The work we do every day matters to the success of our great state - we must focus on diversity-inclusion and helping the next generation for continued success!

We are an organization – a FAMILY – of many different cultures and backgrounds. When all of those diverse perspectives are at the table, we deliver the best for Maryland. Our people and our diversity are our greatest asset.

Greg Slater

Greg Slater

Communication - Building Tomorrow's Transportation Leaders Today

Administrator Slater (left) and MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn (right) at the AASHTO competition in Park City, Utah with students from Chesapeake Math and IT High School.

Study Looking to Solve Truck Parking Shortage

Modernization - Study Looking to Solve Truck Parking Shortage

A shortage of safe truck parking spaces led to a new study to understand and fix the problem.

As freight traffic continues to increase, MDOT remains committed to improving traffic operations to support safety, economic growth, and congestion mitigation. Now MDOT is embarking on a new strategic study of freight movement and truck parking across the State to address problems such as the shortage of overnight truck parking and the staging of trucks headed to the port and major freight hubs. Truck parking shortages result in trucks parked in unsafe locations.

"While MDOT SHA faces needs for transportation investments in many areas, we look forward to the outcome of the study and hope it leads to strategic improvements in truck parking in Maryland," said Karuna Pujara, Deputy Director for Data Collection and Performance in Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering.

The problem is national and has important implications for Maryland. Due to a good economy, proximity of the Port of Baltimore, and connections to major transportation corridors in the Northeast, Maryland is among the states with the worst truck parking problem in the nation. Maryland is taking the lead nationally to address the challenge.

The new, more comprehensive Maryland Statewide Truck Parking Study will:

Assess existing parking and utilization
Identify gaps in the system
Recommend solutions throughout the State
Identify funding (e.g., grants, Federal Freight Formula Funds, P3 opportunities, etc.)

MDOT, MDOT SHA and MDOT's TBUs will use the study to fulfill federally mandated requirements under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP 21) and Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), and support Maryland's growing economy.

The Thinner the Better

Innovation - The Thinner the Better

This innovative method reduces trucks' vibration interfering with the placement of bond coating.

There's a famous problem in physics known as the Heisenberg Effect – the very act of observing a particle affects its behavior and makes it hard to predict how that particle will behave next. If you build highways, this might sound familiar – when your trucks rumble onto the road, they interfere with the application of the very asphalt bonding that they're applying.

Enter an innovation that maintenance teams in districts 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 have introduced to Maryland – ultra thin bonded wearing course. The news is in the delivery system. Crews now place this very thin – 5/8 to 3/4 inches – course immediately onto a specialized tack coat, before any trucks can disturb it. This thinner layer replaces what was previously a 2-inch lift.

A bonded wearing course, explains one county DOT, is an asphalt mixture applied over a thick membrane. The high binder content seals the underlying road, protecting it from water, and reducing wear and tear.

It has one additional benefit. "This lets MDOT SHA realize an important cost savings," said Dan Houck, the District 7 Assistant District Engineer for Maintenance. "We can now treat more lane miles per year and increase the overall effectiveness of our system preservation operations."

District 7 started using ultra thin bonded wearing course on projects on MD 100 and I-70. In fact, D7 was the first to pilot an earlier version of this technology, placing it on MD 80 in 1999. It lasted for 18 years, whereas the adjacent section that had used a standard 2-inch overlay lasted just 13 years.

Ultra thin bonded wearing course was introduced to MDOT SHA after extensive testing by the Office of Materials Technology.

Bike to Work Day

Customer Service Experience - Bike to Work Day

OPPE RIPD Chief Samantha Biddle helps an enthusiastic bicyclist at a table filled with healthy snacks, water bottles and brochures with useful tips.

Customer Service Experience - Bike to Work Day

A bicyclist pumping the pedals on Guilford Avenue keeps a healthy distance from cars as he approaches the SHA Pit Stop.

There are many ways to commute along MDOT SHA roads and highways, and bicycling has the added advantage of providing some healthy exercise. On Friday, May 17, MDOT SHA showed its support for bicyclists by participating in Bike to Work Day #BiketoWork2019, which was organized by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

MDOT SHA volunteers staffed a Pit Stop outside headquarters, on Monument and Guilford, together with partners from MTA, RK&K and Z104.3/iHeart Radio. They offered cyclists breakfast snacks, attachable gyroscopes, t-shirts, a tire pump, and a station showing how to use a Bike-N-Ride, a rack that lets bicyclers safely store their bikes on MTA buses.

"People appreciated us being out there for them and encouraging them to take an alternative way to reach their desks," said Jon Mayer, the OPPE's Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator.

MDOT SHA emphasizes bicycle safety, both for bicyclists and drivers, urging "Drive Smart, Bike Smart." The safety campaign, which officially launches during May's Bicycle Safety Month, also reminds drivers that "A bicyclist might be someone you know."

Thanks to Samantha Biddle, Dale Edwards, Lindsey Franey, Meredith Hill, Winston Hughes, Daveda Johnson, Barry List, Jon Mayer, Stephen Miller, Elliot Plack, Peter Sotherland, Kay Underwood, and all the MDOT SHA volunteers who made the day special.


Photo of the Month

Bring Your Child to Work Day: Planning a new road or town, even in a tabletop demonstration, can offer some surprises. Zailynn Harper, the five-year-old daughter of Traffic Engineer Demetria Brown, agrees.

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