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

Administrator's Message: MDOT SHA Delivers the Customer EXPERIENCE

Greg Slater

Greg Slater

As January turned to February, we hosted the 25th annual Maryland Quality Initiative (MdQI) training conference in Baltimore, where we recognized the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for delivering outstanding transportation projects and hosted a series of breakout sessions, all geared toward posturing us for tackling the challenges that face transportation professionals today and in the future.

MdQI has served as the forum to bring state and private industry together with a shared vision of improving the quality of Maryland's transportation system. One of the areas I have personally identified for focus and improvement in MDOT SHA is the Customer Experience. On the last day of the conference, Communications Director Valerie Burnette Edgar and I presented at a session about enhancing the customer experience to make us effective and relevant for the NEXT 25 years, and how the private industry is part of that journey.

This is a NEW MDOT SHA. We are implementing processes and improvements which will have lasting effects on the transformative transportation solutions we are building and implementing across this state. Projects are truly complete only with outreach, empathy and engagement with our customers.

We need to provide an EXPERIENCE for the people of Maryland. Transportation affects almost everyone, and recent survey data indicates we are having as positive an impact on Marylanders as much as ever. Highways are a top priority for our citizens...recent survey data indicates it is the most important agenda item in the lives of Marylanders, eclipsing even education.

How do we capitalize on that positive public opinion? By delivering. We answer every call and every letter.

As Administrator, I field calls from citizens every single week. We owe that. We owe a customer experience by setting a high standard for our organization, holding ourselves to that standard and responding to our customers with empathy, transparency and understanding. We are doing that, and we'll continue to do it.

I talked about this at MdQI, but I also talk about it everywhere I go. The Customer Experience is inexorably tied to every project we execute and every day we spend in the office. It was critical that our industry and transportation partners heard this message at MdQI, but it is much more critical that the people of Maryland SEE and EXPERIENCE how much we care and how responsive we are every day. Thank you.

Thinking Outside the Box Reopens MD 355 Bridge over the Monocacy River Sooner

Innovation - Thinking Outside the Box Reopens MD 355 Bridge over the Monocacy River Sooner

The Office of Structures uses inventive jack towers to repair the MD 355 Bridge over the Monocacy River in Frederick.

On December 6, 2017, MDOT SHA received an urgent call about a heavy-duty tow pulling a garbage truck that had lodged in the MD 355 steel truss' overhead framework. The damage was extensive, and MDOT SHA bridge inspectors quickly determined the bridge needed to be closed until repairs could be made.

Applying an innovative and out-of-the-box solution, the Office of Structures (OOS) Deputy Director for Inspection and Remedial Engineering Division, Rod Thornton and his team - with a stroke of engineering genius - set up repurposed steel beam jacking towers to secure the truss and safely make repairs. The cold weather, approaching holidays, and the demand of the 12,000 vehicles that use MD 355 every day meant one thing – the pressure was on.

Beating the projected 60-day construction time and completing the project in 23 days, more than 30 employees worked 10-12 hour shifts to ensure the 88-year-old bridge's functionality. On January 11, MDOT SHA reopened the bridge to the public.

Without the Office of Structure's expedient, ingenious approach to addressing the bridge repair, there would have been extended impacts to the public. The MD 355 bridge repair is proof, once again, that no matter how difficult a project's scope, MDOT SHA delivers. Using recycled steel to build safe structures to access and assess damage is yet another example of MDOT SHA's efforts to challenge ourselves and continuously build upon innovative construction ideas.

What are Public-Private Partnerships?

Modernization - What are Public-Private Partnerships?

A Public-Private Partnership, or P3, is tomorrow's approach to addressing decades-old traffic congestion plaguing interstates like I-495 (Capital Beltway) and I-270. The nation's roads need maintenance and improvements to enhance safety and relieve traffic congestion. Partnering with the private sector helps Maryland secure the resources needed to make major, expensive road improvements possible.

For the first time ever, MDOT SHA is seeking proposals from the private sector to finance, build, operate, and maintain new lanes along two of the State's busiest interstates. Agreements between public sector and private enterprises are becoming worldwide transportation modernization initiatives, and countries including the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany have already adopted them to expedite roadway improvements, and other states such as Virginia are employing P3s as well.

The P3 opportunity will deliver – faster, better, replacing the traditional long process referred to as design-bid-build. This is the process in which MDOT SHA and private firms design the project, construction companies bid to build specific parts of it, and the state uses traditional federal and state financial resources. Design-bid-build requires internal and external collaboration that usually takes years to complete. P3 transforms this lengthy process into one transaction, in which private companies handle design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance.

The biggest benefit is that these projects will occur with no out-of-pocket costs for the State as the private firm tolls the new lanes to recover costs. The express toll lanes improve travel for those choosing the toll, and relieve congestion in free lanes as well. The P3 approach is another way MDOT SHA is modernizing bureaucratic processes and embracing opportunities to work differently and think out-of-the-box to improve the customer experience.

District 4's Construction Engineers Address a Business Owner's Road Construction Concerns

Customer Service Experience - District 4's Construction Engineers Address a Business Owner's Road Construction Concerns

Amy Andrews and Tom Briggs work together to deliver the customer experience as part of the complex US 40 widening project in Harford County.

When a car dealership owner expressed concern that the US 40 widening project in Aberdeen confused patrons and blocked access to his shop, Amy Andrews and Tom Briggs, the project's managing engineers, went the extra mile and delivered on the Governor's Customer Service Promise.

Concerned that the construction in front of the business convinced potential clients the shop was closed, the two Project Engineers set up Variable Message Signage reading, "Business Open During Construction." Keeping the owner informed and involved in their decisions, they explained that the new signal timing on the US 40 and MD 7 intersection would increase traffic flow, making the dealership more accessible. To address dust and debris that often made an unwanted home on brightly polished for-sale automobiles, they agreed to call the dealership owner when sweeper trucks were scheduled and limit their rotation of sweeping. Thanks to Amy and Tom, the business owner prepared by moving his vehicles prior to the sweeper truck passage.

The lengths Amy and Tom underwent to answer the business owner's concerns is the customer experience. They responded to the citizen's needs quickly, accurately, transparently and treated the customer with courtesy and respect. Amy and Tom also involved the owner in the decision-making process. They plan to follow up to ensure their solutions improve foot traffic. Thank you, Amy Andrews and Tom Briggs, for remaining dedicated, empathetic, and transparent to the public's needs. Aberdeen City Manager, Randy Robertson graciously praises them as well, writing:

"You were understanding and empathetic to the challenges [the dealership owner] faces as a result of the construction. I know you see much of this same thing on a daily-basis - that's the calling of public service."


Photo of the Month

At February’s Baltimore Country Regional Cabinet Meeting, Governor Larry Hogan and Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford presented District 4’s Maintenance team, represented by the Assistant District Engineer Andre Futrell (to the left of Governor Hogan), and Resident Maintenance Engineers (left to right, front to back) Alan Price (Golden Ring), Brian Gneiting (Hereford), Mike Wetzel (Maintenance), Terry “Wil” Clark (Churchville), and Aamir Khurram (Owings Mills) with the Governor’s Citation for Exemplary Service. As true Marylanders helping Marylanders, they keep motorists safe and roadways moving all while listening intently to citizen needs and offering quick, accurate solutions. MDOT SHA is delighted and proud to call them members of our team!

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